Mississippi covers most eventualities in its laws regarding wills, often to a complex extent. Any person 18 years of age or older can make a legal will in Mississippi if they are of sound mind, but how they can do so -- and the potential for some provisions to be overturned -- vary according to circumstance.
Mississippi requires two witnesses for all printed wills, and they must sign it in the presence of the testator, or the person who is making it. Beneficiaries and creditors are not prohibited from being witnesses, but there are restrictions. If a beneficiary is a witness, she loses anything you left her in your will unless there is one more witness in addition to her who is not a beneficiary. However, if she is next of kin, she is still permitted to inherit any part of your estate that she would have received if you had died without a will. If a creditor is a witness, any mention of the debt in the will becomes null and void.
If a will is entirely in the handwriting of the testator and signed by her, called a holographic will, it is legal without any witnesses. Nuncupative, or oral, wills are legal with one witness, the person hearing the bequest, but only for bequests valued at less than $100 and if the testator either spoke her last wishes at home or was transported to a hospital and died there before she could return home. Otherwise, nuncupative wills also require two witnesses to be legal in Mississippi.
You cannot disinherit your spouse, but his recourse depends on whether or not you left him anything in your will at all. If you left him a nominal amount, he can renounce and reject your will up to 90 days after it has entered probate and elect to take a state-prescribed share of your assets instead, up to one half. If you omitted him from your will entirely, he is still entitled to a share of your estate, but he does not have to formally make a claim for it. If he owns any property in his sole name, Mississippi appoints three commissioners to value his property and weigh it against the elective share of yours that he would be entitled to. If his property is worth more than his elective share of yours, he loses his right to it. If it is worth less, he is only entitled to the difference in value. Mississippi's elective share laws are extremely complicated so if you think they apply to you, you should consult with an attorney.
Effect of Children
If you have a child after you make your will or if your spouse is pregnant at the time you die, certain laws apply. If you do not specifically disinherit the child, your will is void for as long as he lives. He is entitled to the same share of your estate as he would have received if you had died without a will. If he passes away before the age of 21 but he has a child, then your grandchild is entitled to his share of the estate just as if you had died without a will. The only way your estate is safe from a claim by him is if he dies before he reaches 21 and has no children. If you are considering disinheriting a child in Mississippi, you should speak with an attorney to make sure it happens as you intend.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.