Dealing with the Mississippi probate process can be challenging, especially after losing a loved one. When you want to concentrate on remembering your loved one, you may feel burdened with estate administration issues arising from your loved one’s passing. Trying to manage your loved one’s estate can often seem overwhelming, especially during the grieving process. Whether you are navigating the probate process as a surviving family member or you’ve been appointed as an estate executor, you need an experienced estate planning lawyer at your side.
At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our skilled Mississippi probate lawyers will guide you through the process. Our top priority is to help our clients get through the probate and estate administration process as quickly as possible. We make any legal issues as straightforward as possible, so you can focus on mourning and celebrating the life of your loved one. If you are interested in discussing a probate or estate administration matter, contact our law firm today for an initial consultation.
The Mississippi Probate Process
In Mississippi, probate is a legal process that happens after someone dies. Typically, a loved one will petition the court to validate the deceased person’s last will and testament. Mississippi chancery courts determine the validity of the will and appoint an executor if there is a valid last will and testament or an administrator if there is no valid last will and testament. The executor or administrator is responsible for identifying and taking inventory of estate property and may be required to appraise the property and pay any remaining taxes or debts owed by the deceased person from the deceased’s assets. Finally, the probate court will oversee the property’s distribution to the beneficiaries according to the deceased individual’s will.
When someone’s estate is going through the probate process, disputes among beneficiaries often arise. Many probate disputes revolve around the deceased individual’s last will and testament. Disputes usually involve one of the following:
- Another person unduly influenced the writer of the will
- The will was not executed according to Mississippi laws
- It is questionable who has a legal right to inherit the estate since there is no will
- The executor is incapable and needs to be removed
- The executor’s decision should be challenged
- Creditors are making claims to the estate
- The interpretation of the will is in dispute
- Tax and property claims are questionable
Probate vs. Non-Probate Assets
The probate court will only govern the distribution of probate assets. In other words, certain kinds of property do not go through the probate process in Mississippi. Probate courts should determine which assets are probate assets and which are non-probate assets. Beneficiaries who are named in the will are only entitled to probate assets. When there is no will, family members who have a right to inherit property under Mississippi’s intestacy laws will only receive probate assets.
Using non-probate assets is an important estate planning strategy that will allow your loved ones to receive property immediately after your death, avoiding the often costly probate process. Non-probate assets include all of the following:
- Property jointly owned by “tenants with the right of survivorship”
- Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries (e.g. IRAs and 401(k) accounts)
- Bank accounts with a “pay on death” (POD) designation
What Happens When a Person Dies Without a Will?
When a person passes away without a will, Mississippi’s intestacy succession laws will determine who inherits the estate’s property and assets. When a spouse and one child survive the deceased individual, the child will inherit one half of the estate, and the spouse will inherit the other. When the deceased individual is survived by a spouse and more than one child, the spouse and children will inherit the probate estate in equal portions, and so forth.
Many different types of disputes can arise when someone passes away without a will in place. In some cases, surviving family members you don’t even know will try to make an inheritance claim. In other cases, a family member may find a will that other family members didn’t know about once the probate process has begun. Alternatively, a dispute may arise regarding who should inherit the estate under Mississippi’s intestacy laws.
Estate Administration Services
During the estate administration process, the probate court will appoint an executor or administrator of the estate, as mentioned above. The probate process can become incredibly complex. If you have been appointed as an executor or administrator of someone else’s estate, we recommend hiring an experienced lawyer to help you fulfill your duties.
Once you take on an estate executor or administrator’s role, you have a fiduciary duty to manage the estate well and meet certain legal requirements. When executors or administrators breach their fiduciary duty, they become exposed to penalties, lawsuits, and possible criminal charges. Obtaining the legal services of an experienced attorney will help you undergo the probate process smoothly. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, we offer cost-effective and competent estate administration services, such as:
- Preparing and filing all necessary petitions, pleadings, and other required documents
- Guiding the fiduciary through their legal responsibilities
- Marshaling all the assets of the estate
- Determining which assets are probate assets
- Resolving any potential disagreements and disputes between beneficiaries
- Transferring and distributing assets of the estate promptly
Contact an Experienced Probate Lawyer Today
Dealing with probate can be extremely difficult, time-consuming, and costly. One of the best things you can do if you are involved in a probate matter is to hire an experienced lawyer. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our lawyers have an in-depth knowledge of Mississippi probate laws. We are prepared to help advocate for your best interests, whatever your probate matter may be. Our clients rest easier, knowing that they have a strong counselor and advocate on their side throughout the probate process. Contact us today for a consultation.