If you don’t create a formal document stating how you’d like your property and assets to be passed on once you pass away, then the state will use intestate succession laws to make that determination on behalf of your estate. Typically, this means your surviving spouse inherits most of your assets (after taxes and expenses). There are additional options if there is no spouse or if only certain descendants exist.
In any case, the easiest way to avoid any messy succession is to create a will. In Mississippi, Code Title 91, Chapter 5 outlines specific rules and requirements for creating and maintaining such a document.
What are the Legal Requirements for a Mississippi Will?
First, the creator must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. This person must sign the will, and have another person sign it in his or her presence. If the creator is not 100% responsible for the will (for example, if an estate planning attorney helps drafts it), there must be two signatory witnesses present.
It’s important to note that witnesses should not be anyone that could receive a gift from the will. This matters if the witness is part of a group receiving inheritance as opposed to the solitary person receiving anything.
Are Oral Wills Valid in Mississippi?
Although not recommended, an oral will is valid in the state. It must be made at the creator’s residence where he or she resided 10 days prior to death and at the time of his or her last illness. (The exception is if the creator is brought home deceased from a hospital.) The most that an oral will can offer is $100 unless two witnesses can testify the wishes of the creator.
An oral will can’t be taken to probate can’t for at least 14 days and if the surviving spouse or next of kin is a Mississippi resident and has been summoned to contest the will. It must begin probate within six months of the spoken word unless those words were put in writing within six days of being said.
Why a DIY Will is Bad
What it comes down to is proving the validity of the document. A will needs to be self-proving, which will likely require the signature of a notary public. If it’s not self-proving, that could expose potential heirs to additional issues while trying to claim the deceased’s property and assets. Ultimately, this means more time and more legal fees.
It’s worth your time and money to consult a qualified estate planning attorney in Mississippi to create a well-rounded will that adheres to all state laws and requirements. The Law Offices of Rusty Williard is well-versed in this and is here to help. Call (601) 824-9797 to learn more.