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.

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.

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.

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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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What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in Nebraska?

References

Related articles

New York Estate Law When the Executor Dies

New York, like all other states, recognizes a written will as the proper method for making your wishes known as to the distribution of your assets when you die. The executor is the person named in the will to see that the terms of the will are carried out. If an executor dies before she has completed her duties, the court must appoint a new executor.

If Your Spouse Dies With a Will, Does It Need to Be Probated?

Your spouse’s estate must generally go through your state’s probate process regardless of whether your spouse had a will. However, some assets, such as life insurance, can be distributed without going through probate at all. Additionally, most states have a simplified or abbreviated version of probate for estates that qualify.

Probate Laws in Missouri

When someone dies in Missouri or dies owning property in Missouri, Missouri’s probate laws outline the procedures for processing the decedent’s estate, including determining whether the decedent’s will is valid, how to prove its validity in court, and who receives a decedent's property if he died without a valid will. These probate laws are located in Missouri Revised Statues, Chapter 474, formally known as the Missouri Probate Code.

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