After a loved one passes away in Mississippi, his or her estate typically goes through the probate or estate administration process. When someone passes away with a properly funded and well-drafted trust, the probate process won’t be necessary. Instead, the successor trustee must administer the distribution of the deceased individual’s assets. When a person dies without appointing an executor, the probate court will appoint an estate administrator.
If you’ve been appointed as an estate administrator in Mississippi, you have specific legal responsibilities. You are legally responsible for categorizing the estate’s assets, paying creditors of the estate, and distributing the remaining property to the beneficiaries. The estate administration process is complex and can be confusing. The estate administration lawyers at Palmer & Slay, PLLC, can help you carry out your legal duties under Mississippi law. Contact us today to learn how we can protect your interests and guide you through the process.
The Benefits of Hiring an Estate Administration Lawyer
You may be wondering why you need to consult with an estate administration attorney just to fulfill your duties. Most Mississippi residents are not familiar with the estate administration process. If you’ve been appointed as an estate administrator, you may not be aware of all of the tasks you need to fulfill during the estate administration process. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our estate administration lawyers assist our clients in the estate administration process. We will make sure you follow all of the steps required under Mississippi law and perform all of your fiduciary duty.
Our estate administration lawyers represent clients throughout all stages of the process. We will help you petition to open the estate and assist you with every step you need to take until you close the estate and distribute the assets. We will provide experienced legal advice throughout the probate process.
As the estate administrator, you are possibly opening yourself up to potential legal challenges.
For example, a family member who is a beneficiary can bring a legal claim against you personally for breach of fiduciary duty. Should the family member succeed, the court could force you to pay damages to the family member from your personal assets, not the estate’s assets. Consulting with a lawyer will help you decrease your potential liability and protect your personal assets.
Understanding the Estate Administration Process in Mississippi
The probate process will look different depending on what type of estate planning documents your loved one used. For example, if your loved one had a last will and testament, his estate assets will go through the probate process. During the probate process, a Mississippi probate court will oversee the distribution of his or her assets according to the will. The deceased individual will have appointed an executor in his or her will, or the court will appoint an estate administrator when no executor has been named.
The Duties of the Estate Administrator
If you’ve been appointed the estate administrator, you will need to manage and distribute the deceased individual’s assets. The probate court will supervise the process, but you will be in charge of moving the process forward and fulfilling your duties. Estate administrators owe the beneficiaries a fiduciary duty, and you can expose yourself to liability for not fulfilling your duty. Even if you unintentionally forget to complete a step in the process, you will expose yourself to liability. Our estate administration lawyers can help you complete the following probate steps efficiently and according to Mississippi law:
- Filing all required documents with the proper probate court
- Obtaining the necessary court orders to determine the lawful heirs of an estate
- Filing a petition to appoint an administrator for the estate
- Conducting an inventory and appraisal of the estate assets
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors
- The sale of estate assets
- Payment of estate taxes, when applicable
- Final distribution of the assets to the heirs
Trust Administration in Mississippi
Trusts are becoming more popular than ever in estate planning. If your friend or loved one has passed away, and you’ve been appointed as the successor trustee, you may be feeling overwhelmed by your new responsibilities. Trust administration can be complex, especially when the trust owns significant assets. There are certain steps you should take after becoming appointed a trustee. You will need to be impartial as the trustee who is in charge of the estate. The death of a loved one can be an emotional time, and family conflicts often emerge.
If your loved one transferred his or her assets into an estate and you’re the trustee, you will be in charge of your loved one’s estate. Managing the trust fairly and honestly should be your primary goal, and you can’t let family conflict interfere with that goal. Working with an experienced trust administration lawyer can help you navigate complex family situations as you administer the trust. A trust administration lawyer will help you protect yourself from liability.
A trust administration lawyer can also help you protect the assets in the trust. For example, we can help you get insurance on the trust assets if they are lost or destroyed. We can also help you ensure that the trust produces an income so the assets can generate an income for the beneficiaries. Mississippi law requires you to make prudent choices when it comes to investing in trust assets. Speaking with financial advisors and an attorney will help you achieve that goal.
As the trustee, you will need to use interpersonal skills and business savvy to manage the trust’s assets and handle potentially difficult situations between the beneficiaries. When a beneficiary questions the trustee’s decisions, he or she can file a lawsuit against the trustee. Our law firm regularly advises trust administrators, providing guidance through routine matters as well as complex issues..
Contact a Mississippi Estate Administration Lawyer Today
Being appointed as an estate administrator or a successor trustee can be overwhelming. Trustees and estate administrators open themselves up to liability that could put their personal assets in jeopardy. If you’ve been appointed as a successor trustee or estate administrator in Mississippi, contact the estate planning lawyers at Palmer & Slay, PLLC, today to schedule an initial consultation.