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Who inherits when a parent or a spouse dies without a will?

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Most folks fail to make plans for their estates while they are alive. Despite concern for dependents, they fail to articulate how they would like their assets to be distributed when they are gone. As a result, Mississippi intestacy laws are left to determine how their estate is inherited.

What are Mississippi intestate laws and how do they work?

If you die without a valid will, you will not be able to determine how your assets are distributed. Mississippi inheritance laws label these assets “intestate,” meaning the will does not exist or is invalid. As such, the court is obliged to refer to the intestate succession laws when determining how your assets are distributed.

Generally, in Mississippi intestate succession, assets are inherited by the deceased’s close family members, starting with the surviving spouse and children before widening out to parents, siblings and distant relatives. However, in situations where the deceased’s relatives cannot be found, their property goes to the state.

According to intestate laws, if you do not have a child at the time of drafting your will or if your partner is pregnant with your child at the time of your death, your will is rendered invalid unless your child dies before turning 21, and does not have a surviving spouse or children. If you do not leave a will, or if you do not name an executor in your will, the court will have to appoint someone to oversee the distribution of your assets.

What property is excluded from intestacy law?

Mississippi’s intestacy laws only apply to assets that would have been passed by a will (if the deceased had one). These laws do not apply to assets that pass to people at death through joint tenancy or beneficiary designation such as:

  1. Life insurance
  2. Retirement accounts
  3. Payable and transfer on death accounts
  4. Actual property held in joint tenancy
  5. Property held in living trusts

One of the most sensible things you can do for yourself and your loved ones is preparing a valid estate plan while alive. A qualified estate planning attorney will create a plan just for you, ensuring that you do not subject your loved ones to a dramatic succession process.