Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Mississippi wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will) in creating valid Mississippi wills and in assigning a person (called the executor in most states) to administer a Mississippi last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements of a Mississippi Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years of age or be a minor emancipated by adjudication, marriage or entry into active military duty into the military.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) and disposing mind.
Signature: A Mississippi last will and testament must be signed by the testator, or by another person under the testator's direction and presence.
Witnesses: At least two witnesses must sign the Mississippi last will and testament in the presence of the testator if the will was not written entirely and signed by the testator.
Writing: A Mississippi last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Nuncupative wills: Under certain circumstances provided by Mississippi laws, an oral will may be recognized. However, the legal requirements for an oral will are specific and need to be strictly followed.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Mississippi laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Mississippi wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Mississippi wills form may be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until the estate is settled.
Our Mississippi wills form may also pass on property to a charity.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
A beneficiary in a life insurance policy may not be changed through a will.
If a spouse is excluded from the will, the surviving spouse may renounce the will and take a portion of the estate within a certain period of time as allowed by Mississippi laws.
Providing for Pets
Mississippi law currently does not have specific statutes pertaining to providing care for pets. However, the testator may specify a beneficiary as the new owner of a pet. Legalzoom's Mississippi wills form gives you the choice of providing for your pets in this manner.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
A Mississippi will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
A Mississippi will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Mississippi laws.
Revoking a Will
A Mississippi will and testament, or any part thereof, may be revoked:
(a) by a subsequent will in writing; or
(b) by burning, canceling, tearing or obliterating the will either by the testator or in his presence, and by his consent and direction.
Probate and Estate Taxes
After the testator has died, probate procedures prove the validity of the Mississippi last will, pay off debts and taxes of the estate, appoint a personal representative to administrate the will, and distribute property as designated in the Mississippi last will.
Mississippi estate taxes encompass the Federal estate tax credit for state death taxes, and hence no additional taxes are owed. Within 9 months of the testator's death, an estate tax return must be filed with the Mississippi State Tax Commission. The estate taxes owed from probate of your Mississippi last will are determined using these guidelines.
It is extremely important to make a Mississippi will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Mississippi laws.
If a husband does not make a Mississippi will and dies intestate and does not leave children or descendants of children, his widow shall be entitled to his entire estate, real and personal after payment of his debts. If the deceased husband leaves a child or children by that or a former marriage, or descendants of such child or children, his widow will have a child's part of his estate as determined by Mississippi laws. If a married woman dies owning any real or personal estate, the property will descend to her surviving husband and her children or their descendants in equal parts, according to the rules of descent.
If you make a Mississippi will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.