As a Mississippi estate planning law team, we understand that thinking about the future can be overwhelming, but planning for it is essential. One of the most critical elements of planning for the future is ensuring that our loved ones are taken care of after we pass away. This is where the probate process plays a role. Let’s look at what that process is, what you can expect, and how to navigate or avoid the process altogether.
Probate is a legal process that involves the distribution of a deceased person’s assets to their beneficiaries or heirs and ensures the payment of any outstanding debts or taxes. Let us guide you through the probate process in Mississippi, making it as easy and stress-free as possible.
The Steps of Probate:
- The first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the Chancery Court in the county where the deceased person lived. This petition must include the original will – if there is one. The court may set a hearing date for the petition.
- The court will appoint an executor who may be required to create an inventory of all of the deceased person’s assets; this includes real estate, personal property, and additional financial accounts.
- It’s the executor’s responsibility to pay off any outstanding debts and taxes owed by the estate. This can include credit card debt, medical bills, and income taxes. The executor must also file a final income tax return for the deceased person.
- Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the executor can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries/heirs of the estate. If there is a will, the assets will be distributed according to the instructions in the will. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to Mississippi’s intestate laws.
The probate process in Mississippi can be lengthy and complicated, but with the guidance of an experienced probate attorney, it can be a smooth, quicker process. Your trusted estate planning attorney will ensure that all the necessary steps are taken, and all legal requirements are met.
While the probate process is necessary in many cases, it can be time-consuming, expensive, and can cause stress for your loved ones. Proper estate planning measures can preemptively help to avoid the probate process.
Here are some estate planning strategies that can help you avoid probate:
- Create a revocable living trust: A revocable living trust is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you are alive. By doing this, your assets will not go through probate upon your death, and they will be distributed to your beneficiaries according to the instructions in the trust.
- Name beneficiaries for your financial accounts and life insurance policies: Many financial accounts and life insurance policies allow you to name beneficiaries. By doing this, the assets in these accounts will pass directly to your beneficiaries upon your death, without going through probate.
- Joint ownership: Joint ownership is a way to hold property with another person. If you own property jointly with the right of survivorship, the property will automatically pass to the surviving owner upon your death without going through probate.
- Make gifts: Making gifts to your beneficiaries while you are alive can help reduce the size of your estate and avoid probate. However, it is important to keep in mind the potential tax implications of making gifts.
The team at Lancaster Law Firm can help you determine which strategies will work best for your individual situation. By taking steps to simplify or even avoid probate, you can ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after your death.
While the probate process is necessary in many cases, there are estate planning strategies that can help you avoid it. By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can create a plan that will ensure that you have the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and get started on your estate planning journey.