Estate Planning & Probate Attorney in Gulfport, Mississippi
Our Firm Has Experience In:
Wills - Simple and Complex
Powers of Attorney
Probate of Wills
Administration of Intestate Estates (without a Will)
WHAT IS PROBATE?
Simply put, probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies to settle their final affairs and transfer their property either to their beneficiaries as their last will and testament directs (referred to as a "testate" estate) or to their heirs at law as state law directs (referred to as an "intestate estate). It involves the following basic items:
proving that the person's will is valid
identifying the person's property
paying debts and taxes, and
distributing the remaining property.
While the steps in both a testate and an intestate estate are similar, the form of the process is a little different. Typically the attorney will prepare the following documents:
Petition to Open Estate (intestate) or to Probate the Will
Depending on the county, a Probate worksheet and Fiduciary Affidavit may be required.
Order Opening the Estate or Granting Probate of the Will and Granting Letters to the administrator (intestate) or executor (testate).
Oath of Administrator/ Executor
Letters Testamentary or of Administration - these are the documents that give the administrator or executory the power to act on behalf of the Estate.
Affidavit of Notice to Creditors - it must be filed, by statute, prior to the publication for creditors
Notice to Creditors for publishing in the paper (must run in the paper once a week for 3 consecutive weeks. The Estate cannot be closed for at least the next 90 days
Determination of Heirs - typically of concern only in intestate matters - a Summons to Unknown Heirs must also be published in the newspaper.
A hearing is held to determine the heirs
Petition to Close
Order to Close, disburse and pay attorney fees
The individual circumstances of the proceeding will dictate the amount of time required, but it can be a very lengthy proceeding.
There are alternatives to probate, including, with proper estate planning, the avoidance of probate. Our firm can help you choose between the alternatives after considering your situation. We utilize a variety of estate planning techniques including wills, which direct how you want your estate distributed upon your death; trusts (both revocable and irrevocable) which hold your assets for the safe keeping of you and your loved ones; joint tenancies, which transfers title to your property "by operation of law" upon your death; life estates, which gives you the present interest in your property and leaves a remainder interest as you direct; transfers on death; scheduled gifting; and others. We also believe that a complete estate plan includes a durable power of attorney and a healthcare directive so that others can make important decisions about your property and your health if you can't.
Contact me today in Gulfport to request a free consultation. I also represent those who need a estate planning and probate attorney in Harrison County, Jackson County, and Hancock County, Mississippi.