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Mississippi Probate and Estate Tax Laws

When the court helps administer and distribute a deceased person's property, the process that the estate goes through is called probate. During this process all debts, claims, and taxes that the estate owes are paid off and the remaining estate is distributed according to the deceased's will (if the deceased dies testate). If the deceased dies intestate (or without a valid will), then his or her estate is distributed according to Mississippi's laws of intestate succession (see Mississippi Code sections 91-1-1 through 91-1-31).

The charts below outline the basic rules of succession in Mississippi.

Mississippi's Rules of Intestate Succession

If You Die With a Surviving Spouse

Spouse and no children

The spouse receives the entire estate.

Spouse and one child

The spouse and the child share the estate by splitting it in half.

Spouse and more than one child

The estate is divided among the spouse and the children in equal shares.

Mississippi's Rules of Intestate Succession

If You Die Without a Surviving Spouse

Child(ren) and no spouse

The child(ren) share the estate in equal shares.

Parent(s) but no spouse and no child(ren)

Parent(s) receive the entire estate.

Sibiling(s) but no spouse, no children, and no parents

The sibling(s) inherit the entire estate.

The Slayer Rule

What happens under if a son murders his fathers in order to collect his inheritance early? Under Mississippi's probate laws the son wouldn't inherit a cent. Mississippi's slayer rule states that anyone who willfully causes or procures the death of another can't inherit from the victim's estate.

Property that Passes Outside of Probate

For estate planning purposes it is important to note that not all property passes through the probate process. For example, all assets that are jointly-owned or assets that have a designated beneficiary pass outside of probate. The probate process can take time and be costly, therefore, it may be prudent to keep assets out of probate where possible.

Estate Tax

The federal and state governments have the right to collect an estate tax when a deceased person's estate passes to his or her heirs. Most states, including Mississippi, no longer collect an estate tax. Mississippi previously collected a sponge tax, but on January 1, 2005 federal tax law changed and essentially eliminated Mississippi's estate tax.

Additional Resources

State laws change frequently. For case specific information about Mississippi's probate and estate tax laws contact a local tax attorney or a probate and estate administration lawyer.

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