Probate is a process that will legally prove a will, and confirm that all applicable taxes and debts are paid on an inheritance. Mestayer & Associates prefer that your family not be subjected to the tiring process of probate court when you may already be coping with the death of a family member. Probate is a time-consuming process that takes, on average, 13 months to complete. The longest probate in history took 18 years. For family members with urgent financial needs, such as medical bills or tuition, probate can be particularly detrimental. The cost of probate is often unpredictable, any assets and wills subject to probate become public record, and probate makes it easier to challenge the terms of a will.
The Mississippi probate process begins with an examination of a will, if applicable. Mestayer will “prove” a will in court, a process that requires different processes depending on the document. Verification can be a relatively simple process if the will is self-proved with witness’ signature during the creation of the will, or its execution. Inaccessible or missing witnesses can complicate the process. Holographic, or handwritten, wills will require that the handwriting be proven to belong to the benefactor in court, usually by witnesses with nothing to gain from the proceedings.
Mestayer prepares the will and other necessary documents for the court. The documents are then filed with the court and include different papers depending on the type of estate. A court will always require a Petition for Probate of Will. Testate estates will require an Issuance of Letters Testamentary. An intestate estate will require a Petition to Establish Heirs.
A will allows you to name your personal representative, or an executor, after your death to help ensure that your assets are distributed per your wishes during the probate process. At times, it is possible to bypass the probate. Mestayer will determine the most advantageous trust and estate planning process to protect your inheritance and assets. Probate will make it easier to challenge the will, nor will it protect a trust from creditors. Certain assets naturally bypass probate. Nonetheless, one of the few advantages of probate is that once the case is closed, creditors may not file any additional claims against the will or trust.
Bypassing probate is usually advantageous, but it does not circumvent estate taxes or make the distribution of assets quicker. All taxes, whether estate or income, must be paid before any property can be transferred. Certain family inheritance rights are generally unavoidable. Mestayer can evaluate your inheritance needs and compare different probate-avoidance routes based on the types of assets you wish beneficiaries to receive. Call Mestayer & Associates today so we can guide you through the estate planning process most beneficial to yourself and those who you intend to inherit your property.