Mississippi Wills and Estate Planning Lawyers
Thinking about creating a will or an estate plan may sound uninteresting, or even morbid. Especially for those who are in good health, the idea of planning for what happens after one’s death is often unappealing and may feel unnecessary. But creating a will and an estate plan is an important part of responsibly planning for the future.
At the law office of Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, P.L.L.C, our wills and estate planning lawyers in Oxford, Mississippi can help you to create a robust and comprehensive legal plan that addresses what will happen in the event of your death. To learn more about our estate planning services and how we can help, reach out to our law firm directly today.
The Importance of a Will and an Estate Plan
Creating a will—which is one piece of an estate plan—is a critical part of planning for your future and having control over your assets when you die. When you die without a will, your assets will be subject to the state’s intestacy laws. This means that the state, not you, will determine who gets what.
According to intestacy laws in Mississippi, if a person dies without a will, then their assets will be divided in the following manner:
- Any children will inherit everything if there is no spouse;
- The spouse will inherit everything if there are no children;
- If there is both a surviving spouse and a single surviving child, each will inherit half of the intestate property; and
- If there is a spouse and multiple children, the property will be divided into equal shares.
Of course, property will only be divided amongst beneficiaries after any debts and creditors have been paid.
By creating a will, you get to control who gets what. You can leave all of your property to your spouse, for example, or make a contribution to charity. You can also ensure that a minor child, disabled adult in your care, or even a pet has a named guardian and that resources are set aside for continued care and support.
Having a will can also make inventorying your estate, paying creditors, and dividing assets easier for the executor of your estate after your death. While a will must go through probate, having a valid will may mitigate disputes between beneficiaries or questions about where or what property exists.
As mentioned, a will is just one piece of a broader estate plan. Creating an estate plan can assure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, can mitigate taxes, ensure that loved ones are provided for, and can also include documents that speak to your preferences for medical and end-of-life care. While creating a will and an estate plan may feel intimidating or unappealing, no one knows when an unexpected tragedy could occur. By creating a plan now, you’ll have peace of mind that all of your ducks are in a row should the unexpected happen.
What’s Included in a Will?
A will is primarily used to do the following:
- Name an executor of your estate. This is the person who will execute the will/administer your estate upon your passing.
- Provide directions for paying off debts and creditors. A will should outline all debts that exist.
- Distribute assets to beneficiaries. Again, you can use a will to leave certain assets to whomever you see most fit, including any charities.
- Name a guardian for any minor children. If you are a parent of a minor child, this is one of the most important reasons to create a will.
How to Create a Will
The hardest part of preparing a will is creating an inventory of an estate and deciding how you want your estate to be divided. Once you’ve done that, the actual process of forming the will is easy. To write a will, you must be of sound mind and at least 18 years of age. The will must be made in writing and you must sign your will in front of two witnesses. An attorney can walk you through all of the logistics and help you to think about what to include in your will.
What to Include in an Estate Plan
Creating a will is an essential part of an estate plan, but it’s only one piece of a strong estate plan. Other documents that should be part of an estate plan include:
- Trust. A trust is similar to a will in that it can be created for the purpose of leaving certain assets to certain beneficiaries. It’s different, however, in that assets held in a trust are managed by a trustee, that a trust can have certain tax advantages, and that assets held in a trust do not need to pass through probate.
- Powers of attorney. There are two common types of powers of attorney: a healthcare power of attorney and a financial power of attorney. Both types of documents are used to provide another person with the lawful authority to make decisions on your behalf regarding healthcare or finances in the event that you are unable to do so.
- Living will/advanced directive. Creating a can be challenging for many people, as it forces one to think about the type of healthcare and treatment they want to receive—and don’t want to receive—at a critical moment. A living will/advanced directive is used to tell your doctor your wishes regarding feeding tubes, resuscitation, palliative care, organ donation, and end-of-life measures.
Do I Need a Wills and Estates Lawyer?
There is no legal requirement to create a will or an estate plan, nor a requirement that you work with an attorney should you choose to do so. However, wills and estate plans can have a significant impact on the future of your estate and your loved ones; it is smart to have these documents carefully crafted and reviewed with the help of an experienced wills and estates lawyer.
At the law office of Tannehill, Carmean & McKenzie, P.L.L.C., our lawyers have years of experience helping our clients create comprehensive estate plans and can sit down with you to discuss your needs at your convenience. Please visit our office, send us a message, or call us directly at (662) 337-7868.
Why every parent needs a will.