The probate process for an estate can seem daunting, causing those who are faced with the prospect to want to run the other direction. While the probate procedure is time-consuming and tedious, the logistics are actually quite simple. Once you can understand what goes into each step, then the legal practice will be much less overwhelming for all involved. Mestayer Law Firm is here to explain the general outline of the probate process in Mississippi.
Establish a Need for Probate
When asking the general question ‘Must all estates go through probate in Mississippi?’, the answer is yes. There are exceptions, although they are very rare. These exceptions come in the case of small estates that concern no physical property. Ask your attorney (YES - you must have a specialized Mississippi Attorney to represent your case) if your situation applies. Even if neither you nor the deceased lived in Mississippi, if they owned any assets in the state, then you must go through the process.
Determine Type of Estate
If the deceased passed with a Will in place, then the estate is recognized in court as testate. If there was no Will, then it is intestate. A testate estate has an executor who will handle the wishes of the Will. With intestate there will be an administrator assigned to the estate.
At this time, your attorney will gather all necessary documents such as a Petition for Grant of Letters Administration and Issuance of Letters of Administration for intestate estates; or Letters Testamentary for testate estates.
Present in “Chancery Court” for Opening
Once the aforementioned documents have been filed with the court clerk, your attorney will attend a hearing. During this time, the Judge will sign an order granting that the petitions and letters be opened. What this essentially means is the estate is now ready to be distributed.
Notify Creditors/Heirs and Sign Affidavit
Once the estate is open, the first step is for the attorney and executor to notify all known creditors, allowing them time to come forward and probate a claim—meaning they request their due payment. You must also post a notice in the local newspapers for unknown creditors; creditors have 90 days to come forward. This newspaper posting also serves as a way to alert any unknown heirs who might want to come forward and contest the will. You then sign an Affidavit with the chancery court that both of these steps have been completed.
Value and Distribute Assets
Once all creditors have been satisfied, the rest of the estate’s assets are valued (as they were on the date of the deceased’s death) and then distributed as per any Will. Any remaining or contested assets are taken care of per information in the last step. After placing the value and tallying any income that was received during the probate process, this will also be the time to take care of any taxes still owed.
Heirs Sign to Close
The attorney will now prepare a petition for heirs to sign to close the estate. If there is no dispute against the distribution or Will, the petition is the last step. At times your attorney may wish to file a Statement of Compliance, simply saying every required step has been taken without issue.
Set Hearing for Disputes (judge will determine distribution)
If there are disputes—usually in the form of an unknown heir who has come forward—then a hearing will be set. The judge will hear all arguments and determine how the remaining assets shall be distributed.
At long last the court will issue an order stating how the administrator or executor shall disperse the remaining parts of the estate. A judge will sign off and you are relieved of all legal responsibilities.
All in all this will take, at best, four to six months. The time commitment may be large but once you have familiarized yourself with this general outline of the probate process in Mississippi the ordeal will be far less intimidating.
Would you like to know more about what you can do to secure your family & household for the future? Then contact the law offices of Mestayer & Associates. We provide civil litigation for clients throughout the Gulf Coast area including Pascagoula, Biloxi, and Gulfport. Call us at 228-762-1193 or visit www.pascagoulalaw.com. You can also visit our office located at 2128 Ingalls Ave. in Pascagoula, Mississippi. We look forward to talking with you!
No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.
This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. I am licensed to practice law in Mississippi and have based the information presented on US laws. This article is legal information and is for entertainment and informational purposes only and should not be seen as legal advice. You should consult with an attorney before you rely on this information. Any information provided in this blog is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge, but that there may be omissions, errors, or mistakes.
Services Offered at Mestayer Law Firm: