Most of us would like our property and assets to go to our loved ones when we die. If you don’t have a will listing your desired heirs, the state you live in when you pass on will use its intestate succession laws to determine who inherits from you. This may not be a problem from some people, but for others it can be. For example, if you have no biological or adopted family members still alive, your friends and favorite charities won’t inherit from you through intestate succession. Also, you may need a will if you have a child with a gambling problem that you’d like to disinherit, but want to give money to his or her children, your grandkids.
Mississippi law regulates how a will can be created, revoked, updated, and probated (administered or assets transferred). The following table outlines the main will laws in Mississippi.
||Mississippi Code Title 91: Trusts & Estates, Chapter 5: Wills & Testaments
||Anyone at least 18 years old and of sound mind can create a will in Mississippi.
|Legal Requirements for a Valid Will
||To execute a valid will, the “testator” or creator of the will must:
- Sign the will or have another person sign it at his or her direction and in his or her presence
- If not completely written by the testator, there must be two or more credible witnesses who attest to the will in the testator’s presence
||There must be at least two credible witnesses. Witnesses should NOT be persons that will receive anything from the will. If the will can’t be proven without a witness (for example, he or she is one of two witnesses rather than the only one of five who’s getting a gift), the bequest or gift to the witness will be void.
|Revocation of Will
||A will can be revoked by the testator destroying, canceling, or obliterating it or having someone else do it in his or her presence.
|Oral or Nuncupative Wills
||Mississippi is one of the few states where oral or nuncupative wills are valid. An oral will must be made at time of the last illness of the deceased at his or her home or where he resided for 10 days prior to death (except when sick and he or she dies before returning home).
The most that can be given by an oral will is $100, unless the nuncupative will can be proved by two witnesses that the testator called on to bear testimony that this was his or her will.
A nuncupative will can’t be taken to probate court for at least 14 days and the surviving spouse or next of kin, if Mississippi residents, have been summoned to contest the will, if they think it’s appropriate. Also, it must be brought to probate court within 6 months of the testamentary words unless the words were put in writing within 6 days of being said.
|Holographic or Handwritten Wills
||A holographic or handwritten will is valid in Mississippi if it’s testamentary in character (i.e. intended to be a will, not just a letter to a friend) and is wholly written, dated, and signed by the testator or creator of the will.
If you’re ready to draft a will, you can do so on your own or through the help of a will clinic through a local law school, senior center, or other organization. You can also start with the samples available at FindLaw Estate Planning Tools and Forms Section to create a will. However, if you have a lot of assets, it’s usually a good idea to consult with an experienced Mississippi estate planning lawyer. A lawyer can explain your estate planning options, such as trusts, living wills, and more.
Note: State laws are updated frequently, so it’s best to contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these estate planning laws.
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