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.

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.

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.

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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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Inheritance Laws & Marital Property in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, a married person can make a will and leave everything to his spouse, if he chooses. However, if a married person dies without a will, known as dying "intestate," Pennsylvania's laws of intestate succession provide protection to the surviving spouse by granting her a portion of the estate. The portion to which a surviving spouse is entitled depends on whether the deceased spouse has surviving children or parents.

Do Wills Have to Be Probated in Kentucky?

Probate is the process in which a court validates a will and supervises the distribution of a decedent’s estates. The testator, or person who drafts the will, normally names an executor in the will to carry out the will's instructions upon the testator’s death. Generally, the first step an executor takes in executing a will is filing it with the decedent’s local court for probate. In Kentucky, however, not all wills have to be probated.

What Happens to Joint Property When Someone Dies Without a Will in Pennsylvania?

One of the advantages to holding property in joint names is that it may avoid the probate process. In Pennsylvania, estates must pass through probate even when a decedent dies intestate, which means without leaving a will. The probate process moves ownership of a decedent's assets to his heirs or beneficiaries, so it's necessary when no other way exists to effectuate the transfer. When title vests with another individual automatically, as with some types of joint property, probate isn’t necessary. Disposition of the joint property when there is no will is often determined by how title to the property is held.

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