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.


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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

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.


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.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in Nebraska?


Related articles

What Can I Do if the Executor of the Estate Doesn't Pay Me as an Heir?

You are due an inheritance, but you have a problem with the way the executor is doing his job. Depending on the estate in question and the laws of the state, the probate process can be quite complex, but there is a structure to the process. Distribution of the assets of the estate to beneficiaries named in the will or to heirs under intestate succession usually come at the end.

How to Appoint an Executor of an Estate Without a Will

An estate that does not have a will is considered intestate. One of the probate court’s duties with regard to intestate estates is to appoint an administrator. Like an executor, the administrator manages the day-to-day business of settling the estate. This includes paying off the decedent’s debts with the estate’s assets and distributing what property remains to the decedent’s heirs. Probate is subject to state law, so the process of appointing an administrator will vary, depending on where the decedent lived.

Can the Executor of a Will Put Property in Probate?

When a person dies, his assets must be distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs. To accomplish this, most of these assets go through the probate process first. This process, often administered by the courts, varies according to each state’s laws. Typically, title to a deceased person’s property cannot be changed without first going through the probate steps.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

Types of Heirs

In general, an heir is a person who is entitled to inherit all or part of a deceased person’s estate. However, in legal ...

California Law on Failure to Notify Heirs

To heir is human: These are the individuals who inherit an estate if the deceased did not leave a will. Most people ...

Probate Laws for Dying Without a Will in Minnesota

Even when people don’t write a will that dictates how they want their assets distributed when they die, most do leave ...

Who Enforces the Execution of a Will?

In drafting your will, you may appoint a person to serve as your executor, also known as a personal representative. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED