Probate Attorney in Gulfport, MS
When you lose someone that you love, the last thing that you want to think about is talking to lawyers or the legal details of handling the person’s debts and possessions, but it is necessary. If the loved one left a “Last Will and Testament,” such details can be handled through a legal proceeding by opening and probating the person’s “Estate.” The “Estate” refers to the financial assets and debts left by your loved one. The “Last Will and Testament,” or more commonly referred to as the “Will,” is a legal document which acts as a set of instructions and states the person’s final wishes as to what happens with his or her assets upon death. There are legal requirements that must be met to make the Will valid. Some assets may be conveyed outside of the Will and we will be happy to discuss your particular situation and whether some particular assets will be automatically conveyed upon death. In general, however, you must have a Will if you wish to leave assets to your friends, distant relatives, or charities that would not typically receive such assets in the absence of a Will. By creating a Will, you can include the following:
- Exactly how and to whom you want to distribute your assets after you pass away;
- Name a Guardian to care for your minor children and their property; and
- Name an Executor or Executrix to make sure that your last wishes are followed.
If you do not have a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of the State of Mississippi which go by degree of blood kinship and do not take into account the decedent’s desires, special circumstances, nor do they consider the family member’s need. Therefore, we recommend that, at a minimum, every person should have an effective “Will” and a “Healthcare Directive” before they pass away. A “Healthcare Directive,” formerly referred to as a “Living Will,” provides information to medical providers about your wishes if you are unable to speak to state such wishes. You can state specific directions, for instance regarding whether you want to name someone else to make the medical decisions for you, whether you wish to be kept alive by “life support” or artificial means, what type of life-prolonging medical procedures you do not want, or other directions, such as whether you wish to receive the “Last Rites,” in medical situations where you would be unconscious and not able to recover enough to convey your wishes. Such documents are inexpensive for us to draft for you or we will give you information on free resources so that you can prepare your own.
Unfortunately, all too many Americans died without a Will. According to a 2007 survey:
- Fifty-five percent (55%) of all adults in the United States will die without a Last Will and Testament.
- Only one in three (1 in 3) African-Americans will have a Last Will and Testament.
- Only one in four (1 in 4) Hispanic-Americans will have a Last Will and Testament.
If a loved one has passed away without leaving a Last Will and Testament, and she or he has no real property or a large estate, you may be able to transfer small financial assets without opening an Estate; but, if that loved one owned real property in his or her name, you will need to open an “Intestate Estate” (meaning without a Will) and the assets will be convey according to the intestate succession laws of the State of Mississippi.
If the loved one had a Last Will and Testament, then we can take the Estate through the legal probate process in order to arrange for the distribution of the assets and to transfer title for the real property to the beneficiaries as stated in the Will.