Wills, Estate & Probate
Most people know they need a will but for many they put it off because they do not understand what a will is or do not think they need one.
What does a will do?
A will is a set of instructions to be carried out after your death. Most often people think a will assigns property or other physical items to heirs. You may also use a will to assign the person in charge of the estate when you die (executor), name guardians for your children and who will manage their property, how debts will be paid, provide for pets, and can serve as a back up to a living trust.
A few misconceptions are putting conditions on your gifts, instructions for final arrangements, leave property to a pet, etc.
Frequently Asked QuestionsCan I write my own will?
Yes. The State of Mississippi does recognize hand-written wills but it must meet specific criteria for the will not to be contested.Why should I use a Will Attorney?
There are many websites out there with do-it-yourself Wills, but many of these aren’t specific to your state and do not explain certain issues such as estate tax or the importance of signing and/or witnessing a Will correctly. In order to answer all your questions and make sure all issues are addressed, it is necessary to have the assistance of an experienced attorney.
You have heard friends or family talk about the need for estate planning and asked the question: Do I need to do any estate planning?
An estate is a person’s money and property in its entirety at the time of their death. Your estate plan is how your money and property will be distributed after your death. If you do nothing, the Mississippi legislature has prepared an estate plan for you which is set out in the inheritance statutes. Is it the best estate plan for your particular situation?
The best estate plan is the one you prepare in advance taking into consideration your family circumstances. The best estate plan is one that is reviewed periodically as your circumstances change as a result of marriage, birth or adoption of children, change in occupation, inheritance or the death of a spouse or child.
What do I need to put together an order to start the process of preparing an estate plan? Answer – nothing. An initial consultation with Thomas M. McElroy will help you make the determination as to any specific items or property which need to be gathered and mentioned in a last will and testament.
Basically, a last will and testament, an intervivos trust or testamentary trust and a durable power of attorney are documents commonly needed in order to establish a viable estate plan. The exact documents needed depend upon your circumstances. Consultation with Thomas M. McElroy will determine what documents are needed to establish your estate plan.
Probate is the process for determining what assets a person’s estate consists of, and determining the creditors to whom any money is owed and distributing the balance of money and property according to the person’s estate plan.
This procedure is called probate if a person died with a last will and testament and it is called administration if the person died without a last will and testament. The process is basically the same with or without a last will and testament.
Thomas M McElroy can represent and advise you throughout the process of a probate or administration when your spouse, relative or child dies. He will guide you through all the necessary steps in the Chancery Court of the County in which the decedent lived. In some instances, probate of a last will and testament may not be necessary depending on how assets are titled.