Do All Wills Have to Go Through Probate in Mississippi?

By Joseph Scrofano

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.

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.

Small Estate Affidavit

Mississippi, like most states, has a simplified procedure for small estates. If an estate is worth less than $50,000, a decedent’s tangible personal property can be transferred by affidavit. This exception does not apply to real property like houses and land.

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Muniment of Title

“Muniment of title” is another simplified alternative to full probate in Mississippi. If a person dies with a will that transfers real property in Mississippi, the will can be filed for probate as “muniment of title.” To do this, all beneficiaries listed in the will must sign a petition and present that petition to the chancery court. The personal property of the estate cannot be worth more than $10,000, and all debts and applicable taxes must be paid on the estate first.

Bank Account Transfer

Mississippi law allows individuals to transfer bank account assets without probate to designated individuals, such as spouses. The account, however, cannot exceed more than $12,500.

Joint Ownership

Joint ownership can help avoid probate for some, but typically not all, assets. A person can hold property as joint owner with another person with rights of survivorship. Under this arrangement, the property transfers automatically upon one of the joint owner’s death. Using joint ownership arrangements as part of the estate planning process for all assets in an estate is often, if not always, impractical or impossible. Therefore, joint ownership can help minimize the amount of assets that must go through probate, but does not avoid it all together.

Living Trust

To avoid probating a will, a person in Mississippi can draft and execute a living trust. A living trust is effective while a person is alive. In the trust, the asset holder usually appoints herself trustee and maintains control over her assets while she is alive. Upon death, the successor trustee distributes the estate according to the trust’s directions.

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When Don't You Need to Probate a Will?

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Can a Will Get an Estate Out of Probate?

State laws regarding probate procedure vary, and many states offer a streamlined procedure for very small estates. However, as a general rule, wills must be admitted to probate. Wills are not executed as a means to avoid probate. In fact, it's generally the opposite--wills are designed to guide the probate court's administration of the estate. Trusts, life insurance policies and pay-on-death accounts are all intended to be used to avoid probate, but wills are not.

Does Property Have to Go Through Probate Court?

Probate court handles wills and estates, and the disposition of a deceased person's property according to state law. Probate is necessary whether or not you have a will, but most states allow simplified probate for estates under a specified value. Anytime an estate is subject to probate, all forms of property within the estate are involved, with some important exceptions.

Is it Necessary to Probate a Last Will & Testament?

A will is a statement of your intentions for the division of your estate after your death. When circumstances demand an examination of the will by the legal authorities, a state probate court becomes involved. The probate court makes the final decision on the distribution of assets through the work of a court-appointed trustee, or the executor named in the will. Many wills and estates are not subject to the probate process, however.

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