Mississippi Law for Writing a Will

By Beverly Bird

Mississippi covers most eventualities in its laws regarding wills, often to a complex extent. Any person 18 years of age or older can make a legal will in Mississippi if they are of sound mind, but how they can do so -- and the potential for some provisions to be overturned -- vary according to circumstance.


Mississippi requires two witnesses for all printed wills, and they must sign it in the presence of the testator, or the person who is making it. Beneficiaries and creditors are not prohibited from being witnesses, but there are restrictions. If a beneficiary is a witness, she loses anything you left her in your will unless there is one more witness in addition to her who is not a beneficiary. However, if she is next of kin, she is still permitted to inherit any part of your estate that she would have received if you had died without a will. If a creditor is a witness, any mention of the debt in the will becomes null and void.

Format Requirements

If a will is entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed by her, called a holographic will, it is legal without any witnesses. Nuncupative, or oral, wills are legal with one witness, the person hearing the bequest, but only for bequests valued at less than $100 and if the testator either spoke her last wishes at home or was transported to a hospital and died there before she could return home. Otherwise, nuncupative wills also require two witnesses to be legal in Mississippi.

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Elective Share

You cannot disinherit your spouse, but his recourse depends on whether or not you left him anything in your will at all. If you left him a nominal amount, he can renounce and reject your will up to 90 days after it has entered probate and elect to take a state-prescribed share of your assets instead, up to one half. If you omitted him from your will entirely, he is still entitled to a share of your estate, but he does not have to formally make a claim for it. If he owns any property in his sole name, Mississippi appoints three commissioners to value his property and weigh it against the elective share of yours that he would be entitled to. If his property is worth more than his elective share of yours, he loses his right to it. If it is worth less, he is only entitled to the difference in value. Mississippi's elective share laws are extremely complicated so if you think they apply to you, you should consult with an attorney.

Effect of Children

If you have a child after you make your will or if your spouse is pregnant at the time you die, certain laws apply. If you do not specifically disinherit the child, your will is void for as long as he lives. He is entitled to the same share of your estate as he would have received if you had died without a will. If he passes away before the age of 21 but he has a child, then your grandchild is entitled to his share of the estate just as if you had died without a will. The only way your estate is safe from a claim by him is if he dies before he reaches 21 and has no children. If you are considering disinheriting a child in Mississippi, you should speak with an attorney to make sure it happens as you intend.

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How to Exclude People When Making a Will

Most states will not allow you to exclude your spouse from your will. According to the American Bar Association, this stems from the days when wives had no source of financial support except their husbands, and were left destitute without an inheritance. Some states, such as Louisiana and Florida, will not even allow you to disinherit your child. When you exclude anyone who would normally be an heir under your state’s law, it is considered “negative intent.” Consult an attorney to make sure you include the proper wording in your will to prevent your excluded heir from contesting it.

Rules in Nebraska for Holographic Wills

Nebraska is one of 26 states as of 2009 that accept holographic wills if they meet certain requirements. A holographic will is one handwritten by the testator, or the person who is making it. If you handwrite your will, it may be to your advantage to have an attorney look it over to make sure it achieves everything you intend so that the probate court will not have problems interpreting it after your death.

Tennessee Laws on Wills

Tennessee’s laws regarding wills are specific and exact. If your will is deemed invalid by the court for not meeting one of the state’s many requirements, your possessions will be distributed as though you had left no will at all. Although you can certainly write your own will, it is advisable that an attorney look at it to make sure it conforms to Tennessee’s statutes so your chosen beneficiaries receive exactly what you intended them to.

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