Clinton Probate Lawyers Guiding Clients Through the Probate Process in Clinton, MS
The task of probating your loved one’s estate can seem intimidating, but in Mississippi, the probate process can be somewhat straightforward if you file the right forms and observe all deadlines. Here is an overview of the state’s probate process and some key insights on why working with a probate attorney may be in your best interests.
What Are the Steps to Probate in Mississippi?
When someone dies and leaves a will, the first step is for the estate’s personal representative to submit the will to the probate court. If the will is deemed to be valid, the probate judge will usually issue letters of administration that give the personal representative (or executor) named in the will the authority to act on behalf of the estate. From that point, the estate’s executor is in charge of completing several important steps, including locating all estate assets and making a complete inventory of them, locating and notifying all named beneficiaries, and managing the estate’s assets.
In addition, the executor may need to obtain an exact valuation of estate assets through appraisals, as well as open a checking account for the estate, as money belonging to the estate should be kept separate from the executor’s personal income. All creditors that may have a claim against the estate should be notified and debts paid, as well as any applicable estate taxes. The final steps of probate include submitting a final account to the probate court, distributing all assets according to the decedent’s wishes, and closing out the estate. This process can take several months depending on the size and complexity of the estate and could last even longer if there are any disputes among beneficiaries or if the decedent did not leave a will.
Does Mississippi Have Simplified Probate for Small Estates?
In Mississippi, heirs to estates valued under a certain dollar amount may be able to utilize simplified probate procedures in some cases. For eligible estates, heirs may be able to use an affidavit and avoid the probate process altogether.
Estates valued at less than $50,000.00 may be eligible for an out-of-court probate procedure in which a beneficiary of the estate simply prepares a legal document affirming that the estate is valued at less than $50,000.00, that no personal representative has been assigned, and that he or she is entitled to inherit the asset. The affidavit should also have the reasons why that beneficiary believes he or she should inherit the asset. In addition to the affidavit process, there are other alternatives for small estates to avoid probate or enter a simplified probate process, depending on the size of the estate and the type of assets it contains. If you are unsure about whether your loved one’s estate qualifies for simplified probate or one of the out-of-court alternatives, consult a probate attorney as soon as possible so as to avoid any costly mistakes.
How Does Intestate Probate Work in Mississippi?
Intestate probate takes place when a decedent passes away without leaving a will. Without a will, you cannot have any control over how your assets are distributed after you pass away. Estates belonging to someone who did not have a will go through the intestate probate process in Mississippi, which relies on intestate succession laws to determine who inherits your assets.
If the decedent was married but had no children, their spouse will likely inherit everything. If the decedent had children, the estate is divided into equal parts among the spouse and the children. If the decedent had no spouse, the children inherit everything. If the decedent had no spouse and no children, their property goes to their closest living relatives – usually siblings or parents.
Is There Anything You Can Do to Avoid Probate?
Many people would rather keep their affairs private and speed up the process of transferring assets to their beneficiaries, choosing to avoid probate or minimize the number of assets that need to be probated. A common strategy to bypass probate is to place a portion of one’s assets into a trust. Trusts allow for assets to be automatically transferred to beneficiaries according to trust terms once the trust grantor passes away.
It is important to mention that not all assets in an estate are required to go through probate. For example, life insurance proceeds, retirement accounts, investment accounts, and other financial assets with a named beneficiary can be transferred to that person without going through probate. The same may apply to real estate and other property owned by the decedent and another owner (such as his or her spouse). In that case, the property may automatically go to its co-owner.
If your goal is to avoid probate, speak to an estate planning attorney. There are many strategies and tools you can use to achieve your goals, but choosing the right ones may make all the difference for your estate.
How Can a Probate Attorney Help?
Consulting with a probate attorney can be helpful for clients who are still at the stage of creating their estate plans as well as those who have been given the task of administering a loved one’s estate. In both situations, being able to rely on the knowledge of a professional who understands the probate process in Mississippi is fundamental for the entire process to go smoothly.
At Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our probate attorneys have assisted many clients in Clinton, MS by providing legal services and advice to help them navigate the probate process in Mississippi. We are here to answer all your questions. Contact our office at (601) 353-8504 to learn more.