How to Divide Property Among Heirs in Mississippi

By Heather Frances J.D.

When a person dies with a valid will, his estate’s executor distributes his property according to the terms of his will, though state laws govern some aspects of the distribution process. When someone dies without a will in Mississippi, state laws determine how his estate is administered and who inherits from the deceased person.

When a person dies with a valid will, his estate’s executor distributes his property according to the terms of his will, though state laws govern some aspects of the distribution process. When someone dies without a will in Mississippi, state laws determine how his estate is administered and who inherits from the deceased person.

Probate

If a person dies owning assets in his name alone, his estate typically must go through probate before it can be distributed. If the decedent owned property jointly, that property may pass automatically to the other owners without probate. During probate, the Mississippi court appoints a representative to act for the estate; often the person nominated in the will. That representative gathers the decedent’s assets, pays his final debts and distributes the remaining assets. In Mississippi, if the person appointed as the estate’s representative is not an attorney, one must be hired to act as an advisor.

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Probate with a Will

When the deceased leaves a will, the court must determine its validity, usually before anything else happens in the probate case. If the will fully complies with Mississippi requirements, it is considered valid and the court can appoint the executor nominated in the document. The executor will manage the estate’s property and, after the decedent’s debts are paid, distribute the decedent’s property to the beneficiaries named in the will.

Absence of Will

When a person dies without a will -- or his will is invalid -- he is said to have died intestate, and Mississippi’s laws of intestacy direct how his property is to be distributed. Under these laws, a person who inherits property is called an heir instead of a beneficiary, but the estate administration process is very similar to the process used when the decedent has a will. Since there is no will to guide the court’s appointment of an executor, the court must select someone for this role, usually the decedent’s spouse. This person is called an administrator rather than an executor, but has many of the same responsibilities.

Heirs

Mississippi law divides heirs into four groups who may inherit: spouse and children; parents, siblings and descendants of siblings; grandparents, uncles and aunts; and other blood relatives. The court looks at each group, in order, to determine the first group that contains someone who survived the decedent. The individuals in that group are called heirs at law and share the decedent’s estate. For example, if the decent left a spouse and children, the court would name these individuals the decedent’s heirs at law, and the spouse and children would receive equal shares of the estate.

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Dying Without a Will in Delaware

References

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Do All Wills Have to Go Through Probate in Mississippi?

The assets -- money and property -- of a deceased Mississippi resident must go through probate to transfer those assets pursuant to his will’s instructions. If the person dies without a will -- called intestate -- then the laws of Mississippi intestacy govern how the assets are distributed. Probate can be an expensive process. In Mississippi, however, there are several alternatives to probate.

Death Without a Will in Michigan

Under Michigan law, when a person dies without a will, it is said the person died intestate. The law has rules for what happens to a person's property when a person dies without a will. These rules are necessary because there is no will to provide direction as to how the deceased wished to distribute his property. The probate court will distribute property that was not owned jointly, as well as property that did not have a named beneficiary, according to Michigan law.

Probate Laws on the Next of Kin

When someone dies without a will, state laws -- the so-called "laws of intestate succession" -- determine who inherits the estate. If the deceased left a surviving spouse or children, these people are considered "next of kin" and generally inherit the entire estate. Although state laws vary, there is a common descent and distribution scheme that applies to determine who is next of kin -- that is, next in line to inherit -- if there is no surviving spouse or children.

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