When a resident of Mississippi dies without having made a last will and testament, Mississippi’s intestate succession laws will govern how their assets are distributed. Without a last will and testament, intestacy laws dictate which family members and descendants will receive a portion or all of the assets in the deceased individual’s estate. When disputes are related to who is considered an heir under Mississippi’s intestate laws, the probate court has the authority to rule on the disputes.
The best way to ensure that your assets are distributed to the people or charities you choose is to create a will-based or trust-based estate plan with the help of an estate planning attorney. At Palmer & Slay, PLLC, our experienced estate planning attorneys can help you create an estate plan that protects you, your assets, and your loved ones. Additionally, if your loved one has passed away without a will (intestate) and you have questions about whether you are an heir entitled to part of your loved one’s estate, we can help. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC, to schedule a consultation.
What Does Dying Intestate Mean in Mississippi?
Residents of Mississippi have the right to dictate where their assets should go after they pass away. A person’s estate includes all of the property and assets they own at the time of their death. Estate planners can create a last will and testament clearly stating which people or charities should receive their assets when they pass away. They can also create one or more trusts and fund the trusts with their assets.
The trust agreement states who will be entitled to the assets in the trust when the trust creator passes away. Without a legally valid will or trust agreement, the probate court will distribute the deceased individual’s assets according to Mississippi intestacy laws. This process is called intestate succession. Mississippi’s intestacy laws govern the distribution of the deceased person’s assets, including their real estate.
Mississippi’s Intestate Laws
Mississippi’s intestacy laws state how the decedent’s assets will pass to their “heirs at law.” “Heirs at law” are a group of relatives, including the decedent’s spouse and relatives. Blood relatives include relatives descended from common ancestors as well as legally adopted children.
The Deceased Person Is Survived By a Spouse and/or Descendants
When the decedent is survived by a spouse and/or descendants, such as children, grandchildren, and.or great-grandchildren, the spouse and children will receive most of the estate. If a spouse and a single child survive the decedent, the spouse will inherit half of the estate, and the child will inherit the other half. If the decedent is survived by a spouse and more than one child, the spouse and children will inherit the estate in equal shares. For example, suppose a spouse and three children survive the decedent. In that case, the spouse would inherit 25 percent of the estate. The children would also receive 25 percent of the estate each. When the decedent is survived by a spouse and has no descendants, the spouse inherits all of the decedent’s estate.
What Does “Per Stirpes” Mean?
When the decedent is not survived by a spouse but is survived by descendants, the Descendants will inherit all of the estates, per stirpes. Per stirpes refers to beneficiaries and what happens if they pass away before the decedent. For example, suppose a parent of three adult children passes away. One of the adult children passed away before the parent passed away. In that case, the children of the deceased child, the grandchildren of the deceased, would inherit a share of the estate in place of their deceased parent.
What Happens When the Deceased Person Isn’t Survived By a Spouse or Descendants?
Mississippi intestacy laws set forth how the decedent’s estate should distribute the property when the decedent isn’t survived by a spouse or any descendants. If the decedent is survived by one or both parents, the parents will inherit equal shares of the estate if they are both living. If only one parent lives, the surviving parent inherits all of the decedent’s estate. If the decedent is survived by siblings or descendants of siblings and neither parent is alive, the siblings and their descendants inherit the probate estate, per stirpes. When the decedent is not survived by any family members, the entire estate will escheat or be transferred over to the state of Mississippi.
My Relative Died Without a Will. Will I Inherit Assets?
If your relative died without a last will and testament, you may be entitled to all or part of their her estate through Mississippi intestacy laws. What you may inherit depends on whether you are an intestate heir in Mississippi and how you are related to the deceased. For example, suppose you are a sibling of the decedent, and the decedent passed away without a last will and testament. The decedent was unmarried and had a child living at the time of his or her death.
In that case, you would not be entitled to any inheritance because the adult child is entitled to the entire estate. If you believe you may be entitled to some or all of your loved one’s estate under Mississippi intestacy laws, it’s crucial that you speak to an attorney. If you are a legitimate heir under Mississippi law, you can petition the probate court to enforce your rights through an heirship suit.
Estate Taxes in Mississippi
If you are an heir in Mississippi, you may have a right to recover all or part of the estate. However, the probate court requires that you pay your relative’s debts before any assets are distributed to the heirs. If your relative had significant debts, there might not be assets left over in the estate after the debts are paid off. Additionally, although Mississippi does not have a state-based estate tax, the inheritance may be subject to an estate tax at the federal level. You may owe income taxes at the state or federal level on specific types of assets you inherit.
Contact a Mississippi Intestate Succession Attorney
The attorneys at Palmer & Slay, PLLC have extensive experience representing clients in a wide range of estate planning matters, including intestate succession matters. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC, to schedule a consultation.