Mississippi Probate Attorneys

When someone dies in the state of Mississippi, his or her estate must go through a legal process known as probate. The court makes sure the deceased person’s debts and taxes are paid and okays the distribution of any remaining assets.

This often comes as a surprise to families in the Brandon, Mississippi area who assume that managing their loved ones’ last requests will be a private matter. Finding out that a judge is going to be looking over your shoulder as you wade through mountains of paperwork and possessions can make probate seem like an insurmountable hurdle. 

At Palmer & Slay PLLC, we help local families tackle the probate process. We routinely represent estate executors and administrators who need assistance completing their tasks and also work with families whose loved ones died without a will in place. We do everything from filing the necessary paperwork to dealing with anxious creditors and beneficiaries. Sharing the workload with our experienced legal team can give you space to grieve while honoring your loved one’s legacy.

Top Probate Lawyer in Gulfport

The Mississippi Probate Process

Probate is the official name of the legal process that is followed when someone dies and the court oversees the distribution of their assets and settlement of their debts. 

If the deceased person had an estate plan in place, a judge will:

  • validate the will, 
  • appoint an executor, 
  • approve an inventory of estate assets, 
  • oversee the settlement of debts, and 
  • ensure all remaining assets are distributed to the appropriate heirs or beneficiaries. 

When someone dies without an estate plan in place, the court will appoint an estate administrator instead of an executor. After the administrator pays taxes and settles the estate’s debts, he or she must distribute any remaining assets according to Mississippi state law instead of guessing at the deceased person’s preferences. 

In Mississippi, probate is typically initiated in the Chancery Court of the county where the deceased person lived. Except under very rare circumstances, all probate cases are open to the public. 

Going through the courts for this may seem burdensome, but it ensures that the deceased person’s wishes, as outlined in their will — or determined by state laws — are carried out.

Mississippi Probate attorneys at Palmer & Slay, PLLC.

How Long Does it Take to Probate an Estate in Mississippi?

The duration of a formal probate proceeding depends on factors like the size of the estate, the type of assets it includes, and the number of creditors claiming the estate. 

Most cases can be wrapped up in about a year, but it may take longer if the estate includes real estate, business holdings, or other unique or high-value assets that must be sold or transferred to new owners.

The Role of the Executor or Estate Administrator 

Estates do not take themselves through probate. The person who is nominated in the will as executor or appointed by the judge as the estate administrator is the one who drives the case forward.

Families will often ask the court to appoint an attorney to serve as the estate administrator because the task involves a lot of paperwork and estate administrators may be held personally liable for any mistakes they make. However, non-attorneys can and do serve in this role. 

Palmer & Slay’s experienced team of attorneys are often hired to serve as estate administrators or counsel people who want to take on the task themselves. We assist with:

  • Preparing and filing all necessary petitions, pleadings, and other required documents 
  • Advising the executor or administrator to ensure they uphold their fiduciary duties and meet all legal responsibilities
  • Marshaling all the assets of the estate
  • Determining which assets are probate assets
  • Transferring and distributing assets of the estate promptly
  • Resolving any potential disagreements and disputes between beneficiaries

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Our team of compassionate professionals is here to assist in whatever way we can so our clients can grieve in peace. 

Probate Disputes 

The loss of a loved one brings families together, but it can also tear them apart. 

Heirs who end up receiving less than they expected will often allege their loved one was unduly influenced or incapable of making sound decisions at the time their estate plan was executed. Or they may suggest the executor is doing a poor job and should be removed. 

Disputes may also arise when:

  • The will was not executed according to Mississippi laws
  • The interpretation of the will is in dispute
  • Creditors are making claims to the estate
  • Tax and property claims are questionable

The longer probate disputes drag on, the more money it costs and the more heartache it causes. Depending on the situation, the Palmer & Slay team can step in to negotiate an agreement to keep the peace or aggressively advocate for a resolution that respects the wishes of the departed. 

Avoiding Probate 

Probating an estate takes time, exposes private family business to the public, and invites challenges from people who are dissatisfied with the assets they are (or are not) inheriting, so it is no surprise that many people craft an estate plan intending to avoid probate. This is a bit of an exaggeration since all estates must be probate, but there are ways to reduce an estate’s exposure to the legal system. 

A well-crafted estate plan will keep your business out of public view by limiting the private information included in your will and passing assets or items to loved ones outside of the probate system. This can be as simple as adding a payable on death (POD) beneficiary to your checking accounts. More advanced estate planning involving the use of trusts can keep almost all assets out of the probate system. 

Determining which assets must go through probate, and what can be passed without court supervision can be a challenge. Palmer & Slay can provide families in the Brandon, Mississippi area with clarity and guidance as they navigate this difficult task. 

Preserving Your Wealth. Protecting Your Loved Ones. 
If your loved one has recently passed away and you are struggling to figure out what to do, or you find the idea of serving as an estate administrator or executor was overwhelming, Palmer & Slay PLLC can help. Our experienced team of attorneys has been probating estates in the Brandon, Mississippi area for many years. Please contact us today to schedule a meeting.

Palmer & Slay, PLLC, is dedicated to assisting clients within Mississippi, including Scott County, Rankin County, Brandon, Flowood, East Jackson, and beyond.