Probate is a legal process that occurs after a person dies, and it includes:
- The determination of a will’s validity
- The identification of a decedent’s property
- Taking inventory of a decedent’s property
- The appraisal of a decedent’s property
- The payment of a decedent’s remaining debts and taxes
- The distribution of a decedent’s property
Many estates go through the probate process. However, if a decedent develops an estate plan with the help of an experienced Mississippi estate planning attorney, probate can often be avoided. The avoidance of probate is often desirable, as it can be a costly and time-consuming process. Below is an overview of the probate process in Mississippi.
Opening the estate
Probate begins with the opening of an estate. The process proceeds as follows:
1) The estate is opened in court via the filing of specific documents by a Mississippi probate attorney.
2) The court then appoints an individual to act on behalf of the estate and tend to any open affairs of the decedent.
3) Following the appointment of an executor or administrator, the administration of the estate begins. This process begins with creditor notification, which involves notifying known creditors of the estate that the probate process has begun. Following notification, creditors have 90 days to submit claims against the estate. After this period, the estate may pay or contest any claims.
4) After all debts have been paid, the estate’s assets are valued and distributed according to the decedent’s will.
Closing the estate
After all assets have been distributed, the estate is ready to close. The estate closing process proceeds as follows:
1) A petition to close the estate is presented at a hearing at the court.
2) If an heir disagrees with the estate’s closing, the executor or administrator of the estate must present evidence at hearing of why the estate should be distributed as requested. Any heirs with objections can oppose the proposed distribution.
3) The court issues an order directing the distribution of estate assets.
4) Following court approval of estate distribution, the executor or administrator of the estate distributes the estate assets as ordered by the court. Following distribution of the estate’s assets, the executor or administrator is relieved from duty.
5) The estate is officially closed.
Mississippi Estate Planning Attorneys
As noted above, an estate plan can help you avoid the probate process. At Palmer & Slay, we take pride in creating customized estate plans that fit the needs of our clients. Our Mississippi estate planning attorneys utilize our years of experience to identify and avoid potential pitfalls, including excessive taxation and creditor interference. In addition, we understand that not everyone is familiar with Mississippi estate planning, so we always take the time to answer any questions our clients have while making sure that they are involved in each step of the process. If you’d like to begin the Mississippi estate planning process, please contact us today for a consultation.