Understanding Probate in Mississippi: What Goes Through Probate and What Doesn't

Posted by Matt Perkins | Nov 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

Probate is a legal process that ensures a deceased person's assets are distributed according to their will or, if there's no will, according to Mississippi's laws. If you're dealing with the estate of a loved one in Mississippi, it's crucial to understand which assets are subject to probate and which are not. This knowledge can help streamline the process and save time and resources. In this blog, we'll guide you through how to determine whether assets are required to go through probate in Mississippi.

What is Probate?

Before diving into asset classification, let's briefly review what probate is. Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person's assets, paying their debts and taxes, and ensuring the proper transfer of property to heirs or beneficiaries. It's essential to follow Mississippi's probate laws to ensure a smooth and legal transfer of assets.

How to Determine if Assets Must Go Through Probate

  1. Ownership Structure: One of the key factors in determining whether assets need to go through probate is how they are titled. Assets held in the deceased person's name alone are typically subject to probate. This includes assets such as bank accounts, real estate, and vehicles.

  2. Beneficiary Designations: Assets with designated beneficiaries usually do not go through probate. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts (such as 401(k)s and IRAs), and assets with payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations are examples of assets that pass directly to the named beneficiaries outside of probate.

  3. Joint Ownership: Assets held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety automatically pass to the surviving co-owner(s) without going through probate. However, if all owners pass away simultaneously, these assets may still be subject to probate.

  4. Revocable Living Trust: Assets held in a properly funded revocable living trust bypass probate. Creating a trust allows you to transfer ownership of assets to the trust, and the trust's terms dictate how the assets are distributed upon your death.

Assets That Go Through Probate

Now that we've discussed the general principles, let's look at common assets that typically go through probate in Mississippi:

  1. Solely Owned Real Estate: If the deceased person owned real estate in their name alone, it generally goes through probate. This includes homes, land, and investment properties.

  2. Bank Accounts: Individual bank accounts without designated beneficiaries are subject to probate. This includes checking, savings, and money market accounts.

  3. Personal Property: Tangible personal property, such as furniture, jewelry, and artwork, usually goes through probate if there's no specific provision for its distribution in a will or trust.

  4. Vehicles: Cars, boats, and other vehicles titled solely in the deceased person's name are typically part of the probate estate.

Assets That Don't Go Through Probate

Here are some examples of assets that usually do not go through probate in Mississippi:

  1. Life Insurance Policies: Proceeds from life insurance policies go directly to the named beneficiaries.

  2. Retirement Accounts: Funds in retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, pass outside of probate.

  3. Transfer-on-Death (TOD) and Payable-on-Death (POD) Accounts: Bank accounts and investments with TOD or POD designations transfer to the named beneficiaries upon the owner's death.

  4. Property Held in Joint Tenancy: Real estate and other assets held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship automatically transfer to the surviving co-owner(s).

  5. Assets in a Revocable Living Trust: Assets held in a properly funded revocable living trust avoid probate and are distributed according to the trust's terms.

Understanding which assets go through probate and which do not is essential for efficient estate planning and administration in Mississippi. Keep in mind that while this information provides a general overview, individual circumstances may vary. Schedule a call with us to navigate the complexities of probate and ensure that your loved one's assets are handled correctly and according to their wishes.

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