Hattiesburg, MS Estate Planning Lawyer

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Hattiesburg, MS Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is rarely at the front of anyone’s mind. We often feel like we have unlimited time to sort out our affairs and plan an inheritance for our loved ones. Unfortunately, we never have as much time as we want, and disaster can happen anytime.

A person dying or sustaining a debilitating injury or illness leaves their family in a tricky spot. Working with a Hattiesburg, Mississippi, estate planning lawyer and creating an estate plan can save your kin plenty of heartache later.

Berry Law Firm Handles Estate Planning

Berry Law Firm handles the estate planning needs for residents of Hattiesburg, Forrest County, and other surrounding areas. Founder Leigh Berry has been working as an attorney since 1987 and has plenty of experience with estate law in Mississippi. Ms. Berry has created plenty of estate plans in the past and can bring that experience to your situation.

Estate Planning: The Basics Explained

Estate planning covers several topics, and a comprehensive estate plan should have more than just a single document. You will want to work with your attorney to draft a few key documents that protect you and your family when you enter the end of your life.


When someone mentions estate planning, a will is likely the first thing you think of. A will is a crucial document for any adult to have. In Mississippi, you must be over 18 before the court will acknowledge any will or other estate planning document. The state also must determine that the writer was of sound mind and body and knew what they were doing when writing the testament.

A will allows you to determine a variety of things regarding what happens after you pass away. You can:

  • Outline what people or organizations you want to leave your property to.
  • Appoint a guardian for your children if they are under 18.
  • Entrust someone to take care of your children’s inheritance until they come of age
  • Name an executor of the estate.

It’s a lot to include, so a Hattiesburg estate planning attorney can be of service in drafting the document.

Working with your attorney, you can decide on the terms that you find agreeable. You can use your attorney as a guide and consultant, and they can assist you in itemizing your estate and making sure that you account for everything.

Some states allow people to file their will at the courthouse, but Mississippi won’t accept the document until a person passes away. You’ll want to keep your estate plan in a secure place where no one can tamper with it and it isn’t susceptible to fire or water damage.

You can alter your will at any time if you desire. There isn’t an official or legal process for this, and you can just destroy the will and draft a new one. You can also put it in writing that you are revoking your previous will and then making another one.

Living Trusts

Living trusts have a similar purpose to wills in that they help you divide your estate and designate beneficiaries for it. Trusts are more ironclad than wills, and altering them is an involved legal process. The living trust can help your family avoid the probate process after you die. With a will, your family will have to go to probate court to ensure that the document is legally valid.

In a living trust, you designate a trustee and outline what property you will leave to them after you die. You maintain complete control of the property until you die, and it passes to your designated heir when you pass away. Trusts are worth considering in anyone’s estate plan, and you can discuss if one might work for yours with a Forrest County estate planning attorney.

Charitable Giving

After you die, you can choose to give away your assets to charitable causes or set up a charitable organization before you die. You can put the charitable organization in a trust to pass it down to your kin after you pass away.

Power of Attorney

Setting up a durable power of attorney is vital in your estate plan. Having a trusted person with power of attorney will let you be at peace when you can no longer make decisions for yourself.

Powers of attorney are flexible. You can choose to only give limited power to a person or allow them full latitude to handle all your affairs when you cannot. This durable power of attorney is useful if you fall ill or suffer a debilitating injury and find yourself incapacitated for a long time.

You can allow the person with power of attorney to make medical decisions for you, sign off on financial decisions, and sign any checks or documents that you normally would.

What Happens If I Don’t Leave a Will in Forrest County, Mississippi?

It happens all too often – a person passes away without leaving a will behind. Perhaps they thought they would have more time, or a tragic accident ended their life prematurely. Either way, their estate is now at the mercy of Mississippi’s “intestacy” laws.

Intestacy laws govern where a person’s assets go if they die without a will. These laws are strict and not open to any negotiation. No matter what someone may have planned for their estate or verbally said to someone, without a will, the state will let intestacy laws take over how to divide the estate.

Mississippi moves to give the property to the closest relatives. This includes a person’s spouse or children. If you don’t have any spouse or children to pass your estate to, the government branches out and attempts to give the estate to any grandparents or parents who are alive and so on as they eliminate possibilities.

If the state can’t find any relatives of a person through marriage or blood, it will then inherit the estate and decide on what to do with it.

Berry Law Firm: Experienced Estate Planning in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Creating an estate plan is exhausting and difficult. Letting an experienced estate planning attorney handle the process helps make things smoother. Berry Law Firm serves Hattiesburg and other surrounding areas and can help with estate planning needs. Contact us today to get started with your estate plan and a will.

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