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How to Avoid Probate in Mississippi

A couple reviewing an estate plan checklist to avoid probate in Mississippi.

Probate in Mississippi refers to the legal process in which the court oversees the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and settles their debts according to state law. Whether you’re an executor, a beneficiary or simply planning ahead, it’s important to understand this process so that you can save your beneficiaries time and money. If you need help protecting your assets or creating an estate plan, consider working with a financial advisor.

How Probate Works in Mississippi

The probate process in Mississippi typically begins with the filing of the deceased person’s will (if one exists) and a petition for probate with the appropriate county court. This initiates the court-supervised proceedings for estate administration, which will distribute assets following both state law and the directives outlined in the will.

Upon filing the petition for probate, the court is tasked with appointing an executor or, in the absence of a will, an administrator. This person will shoulder the responsibility of managing the estate’s affairs during probate. Their duties can span from gathering the decedent’s assets to satisfying outstanding debts, and ultimately distributing what remains to the heirs.

Mississippi probate laws may differ from those in other states due to variations in statutory regulations, court procedures, and estate administration requirements.

Benefits of Avoiding Probate

A couple reviewing their estate plan to avoid probate in Mississippi.

You may want to avoid probate for many reasons, including minimizing costs. Court and legal fees, as well as other associated expenses could potentially range between 3% and 7% of an estate’s total value. These costs, along with the considerable time investment required, contribute to the common grievances associated with probate.

Using estate planning strategies to bypass probate can help you save time and money, in addition to maintaining your estate private. While the process makes your estate part of public record, non-probate distribution remains private and this can give you and your beneficiaries greater control over how you want to distribute your assets.

Furthermore, avoiding probate may also help you reduce estate taxes. By passing assets directly to beneficiaries through trusts, lifetime gifts and joint ownership with rights of survivorship, you may be able to lower the tax value of the estate. These assets may be excluded from the estate’s calculation for tax purposes, which could potentially result in a lower overall estate tax liability.

Ways to Avoid Probate in Mississippi

Common estate strategies to avoid probate in Mississippi include establishing a living trust, ensuring proper titling of assets with joint tenancy or survivorship rights, and using payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations for bank accounts and securities.

Living Trust

A living trust, also known as an inter vivos trust, serves as a legal framework within which a grantor can place assets to be managed by a trustee for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Mississippi recognizes the living trust as an effective tool for estate planning, mainly because it enables the immediate transfer of assets within the trust to beneficiaries upon the grantor’s death, circumventing the need for probate. A living trust can also keep your estate private as it is not part of the public record. Additionally, it can help you manage assets during periods of incapacity and thereby avoid guardianship or conservatorship proceedings.

Joint Ownership

Joint ownership establishes a legal framework in which property is held by two or more individuals together, and offers another way to bypass probate in Mississippi. Upon one owner’s demise, their share of the property is automatically transferred to the surviving owner(s) through the “right of survivorship,” thus avoiding the need for court involvement.

The primary forms of joint ownership recognized in Mississippi are joint tenancy with the right of survivorship and tenancy by the entirety, the latter being exclusive to married couples. Joint tenancy grants equal property ownership to two or more parties, whereas tenancy by the entirety provides married couples with certain creditor protections.

Payable on Death Designations

The use of payable on death (POD) designations presents a straightforward solution for those seeking to transfer assets without probate in Mississippi. By naming beneficiaries on financial accounts such as savings, checking and retirement accounts, the assets within these accounts can be directly transferred to the beneficiaries upon the account holder’s death, avoiding probate altogether.


Mississippi residents can also take advantage of transfer-on-death (TOD) registrations for the transfer of securities and vehicles upon their passing. When it comes to securities such as stocks and bonds, the owner must work with a brokerage firm to complete the necessary TOD registration forms.

Bottom Line

A senior couple researching how to avoid probate in Mississippi.

You may want to avoid probate in Mississippi to expedite the transfer of assets to your beneficiaries, minimize costs and delays associated with the probate process, and keep your estate private. Estate planning strategies like establishing a living trust, using payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designations for financial accounts, and owning property with joint tenancy or survivorship rights could help you avoid probate.

Tips for Estate Planning

  • A financial advisor can help you create an estate plan for your specific needs. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • If you start your estate planning on your own, you can utilize this checklist to help you get off on the right foot.

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