Intestate Succession in Mississippi

What happens if you die without a will? Learn about intestacy in Mississippi.

Updated by , Attorney (George Mason University Law School)

If you die without a will in Mississippi, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state "intestate succession" laws. Here are some details about how intestate succession works in Mississippi.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession

Only assets that pass through probate are affected by intestate succession laws. Many valuable assets don't go through probate, and therefore aren't affected by intestate succession laws. Here are some examples:

  • property you've transferred to a living trust
  • life insurance proceeds with a named beneficiary
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account with a named beneficiary
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • real estate for which you have a transfer on death deed
  • vehicles for which you have a transfer on death registration
  • payable-on-death bank accounts, or
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will. However, if you don't have a will and none of the named beneficiaries are alive to take the property, then the property could end up being transferred according to intestate succession.

To learn more about these types of assets, go to the How to Avoid Probate section of or read about Avoiding Probate in Mississippi.

Who Gets What in Mississippi?

Under intestate succession, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Here's a quick overview:

If you die with: here's what happens:
children but no spouse children inherit everything
spouse but no children spouse inherits everything
spouse and one child spouse inherits 1/2 of intestate property

child inherits 1/2 of intestate property
spouse and more than one child spouse and children inherit intestate property in equal shares
parents but no spouse, children, or siblings parents inherit everything
siblings but no spouse, children, or parents siblings inherit everything

(Miss. Code §§ 91-1-3; 91-1-7; 91-1-11 (2024).)

The Spouse's Share in Mississippi

In Mississippi, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living children or other descendants. If you don't, then your spouse inherits all of your intestate property. If you do, they and your spouse will share your intestate property as follows:

If you die with one child. Your surviving spouse and your child split your intestate property 50/50. If your child dies before you do and you have grandchildren, your grandchildren will take your child's share. (Miss. Code § 91-1-7 (2024).)

Example: Barrett is married to Jed and also has a 12-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. Barrett owns a house in joint tenancy with Jed, plus $200,000 worth of additional, separate property that would have passed under a will if Barrett had made one. When Barrett dies, Jed inherits the house outright—it's not intestate property—plus $100,000 worth of Barrett's property. Barrett's daughter inherits the remaining $100,000 share of Barrett's property.

If you die with more than one child. Your surviving spouse and children will each take an equal share of your intestate property. If a child dies before you do, leaving grandchildren, your grandchildren will take your child's share. (Miss. Code § 91-1-7 (2024).)

Example: Bill is married to Karen, and they have two grown children. Bill also has a son from a previous marriage. Bill and Karen own a large bank account in joint tenancy, and Bill took out a life insurance policy naming Karen as the beneficiary. When Bill dies, Karen receives the life insurance policy proceeds and inherits the bank account outright. Bill also owns $400,000 worth of property that would have passed under a will. Karen and the three children each inherit a $100,000 share of that property.

Children's Shares in Mississippi

If you die without a will in Mississippi, your children will receive an "intestate share" of your property. The size of each child's share depends on how many children you have and whether or not you are married. (See the table above.)

For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the state of Mississippi must consider them your children, legally. For many families, this is not a confusing issue. But it's not always clear. Here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Adopted children. Children you legally adopted will receive an intestate share, just as your biological children do. (Miss. Code § 93-17-13 (2024).)
  • Foster children and stepchildren. Foster children and stepchildren you never legally adopted will not automatically receive a share.
  • Children placed for adoption. Unlike most states, Mississippi allows children who were legally adopted by another family to inherit from their natural parents. However, you won't be able to inherit from children you placed for adoption unless they were adopted by your spouse. (Alack v. Phelps, 230 So.2d 789, 793 (Miss. 1970); Miss. Code § 93-17-13 (2024).)
  • Posthumous children. Children conceived by you but not born before your death will receive a share. (Harper v. Archer, 12 Miss. 99 (1845).)
  • Children born outside of marriage. If you were not married to your children's mother when she gave birth to them, they will receive a share of your estate if (1) you participated in a marriage ceremony even if it later turned out to be void, or (2) your paternity is established by a court. (Miss. Code § 91-1-15 (2024).)
  • Children born during your marriage. Any child born to your wife during your marriage is assumed to be your child and will receive a share of your estate. (Miss. Code § 91-1-15 (2024).)
  • Grandchildren. A grandchild will receive a share only if that grandchild's parent (your son or daughter) is not alive to receive his or her share. (Miss. Code § 91-1-3 (2024).)

This can be a tricky area of the law, so if you have questions about your relationship to your parent or child, get help from an experienced attorney.

Will the State Get Your Property?

If you die without a will and don't have any family, your property will "escheat" into the state's coffers. (Miss. Code § 89-11-1 (2024).)

However, this very rarely happens because the laws are designed to get your property to anyone who was even remotely related to you. For example, your property won't go to the state if you leave a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, or cousins.

Other Mississippi Intestate Succession Rules

Here are a few other things to know about Mississippi intestacy laws.

  • Half-relatives. "Whole" relatives receive an inheritance before "half" relatives. That is, your sister with whom you share a father, but not a mother, won't inherit from you if you have a brother with both parents in common. Your brother will receive all of your property if he and your half-sister are your only heirs. (Jones v. Stubbs, 434 So.2d 1362 (1983); Miss. Code § 91-1-5 (2024).)
  • Posthumous relatives. Relatives conceived before—but born after—you die inherit as if they had been born while you were alive. (Harper v. Archer, 12 Miss. 99 (1845).)
  • Immigration status. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States.
  • Causing someone's death. Any person who willfully causes or procures the death of another person may not inherit from that person. (Miss. Code § 91-1-25 (2024).)

Learn More

To learn more about intestate succession, read How an Estate Is Settled When There is No Will.

You can find Mississippi's intestate succession laws in the Mississippi Code, Sections 91-1-1 to 91-1-31.

For more about estate planning, go to the Wills, Trusts & Probate section of

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