What Is Probate?

If you have ever seen a movie or tv show where a family gathers to hear an attorney read a deceased loved one’s will aloud, you know what the Hollywood version of estate administration looks like. In reality, there is no dramatic family gathering in a black-draped parlor where family secrets are revealed. Instead, there is a legal proceeding known as probate. 

Estates go through probate, whether they had a will or not. If a will existed, then the process is called probate. If there is no will, then the process is called administration. In both processes the court makes sure a deceased person’s debts and taxes are paid, and okays the distribution of any remaining assets.

Many families in the Brandon, Mississippi area hire Palmer & Slay, PLLC to help them probate their loved one’s estate. 

When There’s No Estate Plan in Place 

If your loved one died without an estate plan in place, Mississippi state law will dictate what happens to your loved one’s property. 

In a straightforward case, the probate court appoints an estate administrator to pay taxes, settle debts, and divide up whatever is left among living heirs according to our state’s laws. The entire proceeding is open to the public.

The estate administrator may be an attorney or a non-attorney. If the administrator is not an attorney, then one must be hired to represent the administrator during the court process. 

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

If your loved one had an estate plan in place, the probate court will validate the will, and appoint an executor to manage the estate according to the estate plan. The executor will pay taxes and debts owed by the estate, then distribute the remaining assets according to the estate plan. Executors must hire an attorney to assist them with the important task of carrying out their duties in probate and in distributing their loved one’s last requests. 

Avoiding Probate 

One of the main benefits of crafting an estate plan is that it can help you “avoid probate.”  

Probate documents and proceedings are open to the public. Anyone can pull the records filed with the court, or attend a probate hearing. A well-crafted estate plan will keep your personal business out of public view by limiting the private information included in your will (a public document), and passing assets or items to loved ones outside of the probate system. This can be done by setting up trusts, but simple acts like adding a Payable on Death (POD) beneficiary to your checking accounts, means that money will pass outside of the probate system. 

If you want to keep your personal information private, the Palmer & Slay team can help you craft an estate plan that does just that. 

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 overwhelming, Palmer & Slay PLLC can help. Our experienced team of attorneys has been probating estates in the Brandon, Mississippi area for many years. 

If you want to figure out how to “avoid probate” we can help you with that as well. We regularly draft estate plans with the primary goal of keeping a family’s personal information out of public view. 

Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation.