Mississippi Inheritance Laws: What You Should Know

Sarah Fisher
Oak Alley Historic Plantation in Mississippi

Mississippi does not have either an estate tax or an inheritance tax, but there are other things you need to know about the state’s inheritance laws, including what happens if you die without a valid will. If you want professional guidance for your estate planning, or if you’ve just inherited a substantial amount of money, it’s a good idea to work with a financial advisor. The SmartAsset advisor matching tool will pair you with capable financial advisors in your area.

Does Mississippi have an Inheritance Tax or an Estate Tax?

Mississippi collects neither an estate tax nor an inheritance tax. Residents will still have to take into account the federal estate tax if the estate is more than $11.18 million. However, if a resident of Mississippi inherits property from a state with an estate tax, the estate would be subject to that tax before he or she could inherit the property. You will also likely have to file some taxes on behalf of the deceased.

Other Necessary Tax Filings

When you die, there are a number of tax returns that need to be filed.

  • Final individual federal and state income tax returns: The federal and state tax returns are due by Tax Day of the year following the individual’s death.
  • Federal estate/trust income tax return: Due by April 15 of the year following the individual’s death
  • Federal estate tax return: Due nine months after the individual’s death, though an automatic six-month extension is available if asked for prior to the conclusion of the nine-month period
    • This is required only of individual estates that exceed a gross asset and prior taxable gift value of $11.4 million

Dying with a Will in Mississippi

In order for your will to be legitimate in Mississippi, you must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and your witnesses must sign your will in front of you and each other. You do not have to notarize your will in order to make it legal. However, you can make your will “self-proving” by going to a notary. A self-proving will speeds up the probate process because the court can accept the will without contacting the signing witnesses. You can make your will self-proving if you and your witnesses go to a notary and sign an affidavit that states who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will.

If the will is determined to be valid, the next step is the probate process. Probate proceedings are usually only required if the deceased person owned any assets in their name only. Other assets, also known as “non-probate” property, can generally be transferred to the other owner without probate.

Mississippi has a process that allows heirs to entirely skip probate if the total value of the estate, after liens and encumbrances have been subtracted, is $50,000 or less. All an heir must do its prepare a short affidavit, stating that they are entitled to a certain asset, or assets. When the person or institution holding the property gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset to the inheritor. The affidavit must state that the net value of the estate is $50,000 or less, that a personal representative has not been appointed, that the heir is entitled to the asset, and why the heir is entitled to the asset. There is a 30-day waiting period to use this simplified procedure.

There is another, similar process for bank accounts with values of $12,500 or less, if there is no will. The inheritor must sign a bond agreeing to pay any lawful debts of the deceased person to the extent of the withdrawal.

Mississippi also offers a simplified probate procedure for small estates. An executor files a written request with the local probate court requesting to use the simplified process. The court can decide whether or not to allow the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate. You are eligible to use the simplified small estate process if the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.

There is also another process called “muniment of title.” An inheritor can also ask the court for a transfer of real property without formal probate if the decedent had a will, owned real property, owned less than $10,000 our less in personal property, and named who the heir(s) of the real property were in the will. The heir making the request, the surviving spouse, and the rest of the inheritors in the will, if any, must sign a petition under oath. The petition must state that all known debts of the deceased person have been paid and the estate is under the value stated above.

Dying without a Will in Mississippi

The Mississippi River

If you die without a valid will, you won’t be able to decide what happens to your assets after your death. Mississippi inheritance laws label these types of estates “intestate,” which means there is no will, or no valid will. The court will then follow intestate succession laws to determine who inherits your assets, and how much they get.

If you didn’t have a child at the time you made your will but you do at the time you die, or your wife is pregnant with your child at the time you die, your will is revoked unless your child dies before turning 21, and doesn’t have a surviving spouse or children. In that situation, intestacy laws apply as though you never made a will.

If there isn’t a will, or if you haven’t named an executor in your will, the court will appoint someone to handle tying up loose ends for your estate. There are usually extenuating factors when someone dies intestate. However, if you can help it, it’s best not to put your loved ones through that kind of stress. If you’re not sure what kind of estate plan you want to make, you can seek the help of a financial advisor specializing in legacy planning.

Spouses in Mississippi Inheritance Law

If you pass away intestate with a spouse, the amount your spouse inherits depends on whether or not you have children or descendants, and how many you have. If you have no children or descendants, your spouse inherits everything. However, that changes if you have children, depending on how many children you have.

Children in Mississippi Inheritance Law

If you die with children but no spouse, your children will inherit everything. If you die with one child, your spouse gets half of the intestate property and your child gets the other half. If you die with two or more children, your surviving spouse and children each get an equal share of your intestate property. However, if the child dies before you do, but has children of their own, your grandchildren can claim your child’s share.

Intestate Succession: Spouses and Children Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property Children but no spouse – Children inherit everything Spouse but no children – Spouse inherits everything Spouse and one child – Spouse inherits half of intestate property
– Child inherits half of intestate property Spouse and more than one child – Spouse and children inherit equal shares of intestate property

In order for your children to inherit under Mississippi intestate laws, they must legally be your children. Legally adopted children have just as much right to their intestate share as biological children do. In addition, if the decedent placed their child up for adoption and that child was adopted by another family – other than your spouse – they are not legally eligible to receive intestate inheritance from the decedent. However, foster children and stepchildren that were never legally adopted by the decedent are not eligible to receive a share as the decedent’s child.

Children born outside of marriage still receive their share as long as paternity was established by a court or if you participated in a marriage ceremony with their mother that later turned out to be void. Any child born to the decedent’s wife during their marriage is assumed to be his child.

Posthumous children, which are the decedent’s children born after the decedent’s death, are also eligible to receive a share. Grandchildren will receive a share only if their parent is not alive to inherit.

Unmarried Individuals Without Children in Mississippi Inheritance Law

Magnolia flowers in full bloom

If you die without a spouse or descendants, your property passes to your closest living relatives in the order listed below.

Intestate Succession: Extended Family Inheritance Situation Who Inherits Your Property Parents – Parents inherit everything Siblings, but no parents – Siblings inherit everything

Although there’s an intestate process designed to make sure your family inherits, it is usually best to write your own will and ensure your property goes to your chosen heirs.

Non-Probate Mississippi Inheritances

The probate process can be difficult and expensive, so you may want to look into the non-probate options available in Mississippi. These assets are also not affected by intestate succession laws, and instead go directly to the named beneficiary. Listed below are some of the assets that will not have to go through probate and instead go directly to the beneficiaries.

Other Situations in Mississippi Inheritance Law

There are a few other rules to know about with Mississippi inheritance laws. Half-relatives inherit as much as “whole” relatives. For example, your half-sibling would get the same share as any other sibling. Posthumous relatives conceived before you die but born after the decedent’s death are eligible to inherit as if they had been born while the decedent was alive. However, posthumous relatives must survive at least 120 hours after birth in order to be eligible.

Immigration status is irrelevant when it comes to inheritance. If a relative of yours is entitled to a share of your assets, they can inherit no matter what their citizenship status is. In addition, any person who willfully causes the death of another person cannot inherit from that person.

Resources for Estate Planning

Managing your own or someone else’s estate entails many complex factors. It can be an overwhelming venture that can include taxes to file, possible court proceedings to go through and more. You might want some help with the process from a financial advisor, who can also help you invest your inheritance.

Finding the right financial advisor who fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

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