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How to Avoid Probate Administration in Mississippi

Coping with the passing of a family member or loved-one is a difficult process. When the deceased (or “decedent”) leaves behind assets, dividing and distributing them can be challenge. Mississippi courts oversee how the assets and liabilities of the decedent’s estate are divided and distributed (probate administration). But probate administration can be a drawn-out process that consumes a lot of time and resources. However, there are ways to avoid probate altogether for certain assets. A proper estate plan accomplishes this by ensuring that certain assets do not become part of the decedent’s estate. At Shows & Smith Law Firm, PLLC, our Jackson, MS estate planning attorneys can help design an estate plan that avoids probate administration and litigation.

Living Trust

A trust is an estate planning tool that places certain assets in the control of a person or entity (trustee) for the benefit of others. A trustee has a fiduciary responsibility to manage and maintain the assets (trust estate) for the trust’s beneficiaries. Any asset can be held in trust, including real estate, financial accounts, securities, motor vehicles, etc. Under a living trust, the trust estate does not revert back to the decedent’s estate upon their death, and therefore is not subject to probate. Instead, the decedent names a successor trustee who distributes the trust estate according to the trust’s terms.

Jointly Owned Property

Jointly owned property with the “right of survivorship” is not subject to probate because the property does not revert to the decedent’s estate. Such property passes to the surviving joint owner upon the other owner’s death. Mississippi recognizes the following joint tenancies:
  • Joint tenancy. Property that is jointly acquired between two people without regard to marriage. Each owner has an equal share in the property.
  • Tenancy by the entirety. Property that is jointly acquired by married couples. Like a joint tenancy, each owner’s share is equal to the other owner’s share.

Accounts Payable-on-Death

Certain savings and checkable deposit accounts are designated as “payable-on-death” (POD). The bank account’s owner has full control over these accounts during their lifetime. Upon their death, the account passes to a named beneficiary.

Assets Transferable-on-Death

Financial securities like stocks and bonds can be registered as “transferable-on-death” (TOD). Like POD accounts, the owner of a brokerage account for stocks and bonds will designate a beneficiary to whom the account is transferred upon the account owner’s death. Real estate deeds and car registration do not have TOD methods in and of themselves. However, these assets can be placed in a living trust.

Other Assets Not Subject to Probate

Like the examples above, several other assets do not revert back to the decedent’s estate upon their death. The following assets are, or can be, designed to pass to named beneficiaries upon the owner’s death:
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • IRA, 401(k) and other retirement accounts
  • Annuities

Hire Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in Jackson, MS

Probate litigation can be an intense and drawn-out process. That is why having a well-crafted estate plan is important. Our legal team at Shows & Smith Law Firm, PLLC has over 7 decades of collective experience in estate planning in Jackson, MS. We can fashion an effective estate plan for you to simplify or avoid probate administration. Please contact us online, or call (601) 664-0044 to schedule a free consultation with a Jackson, MS probate lawyer today.


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