To make a valid will under Mississippi law, the will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator;
- Signed and attested by two witnesses.
The requirements to make a valid written will in Mississippi are set forth in Miss. Code § 91-5-1.
Who Can Make a Will In Mississippi?
In Mississippi, “[e]very person eighteen (18) years of age or older, being of sound and disposing mind, shall have power” to make a valid will. See Miss. Code § 91-5-1.
To be of “sound and disposing mind” under Mississippi law, a testator must:
- Understand and appreciate the nature of the act of executing a will;
- Know the beneficiaries of his bounty and their relation to him; and,
- Be capable of determining how he desires to dispose of this property.
See Howard v. Coward, 51 So. 2d 775 (Miss. 1951).
A Mississippi Will Must Be Signed By the Testator
To be valid under Mississippi law, a will must be “signed by the testator or testatrix, or by some other person in his or her presence and by his or her express direction.” See Miss. Code § 91-5-1.
Therefore, a testator or testatrix can direct another person to sign the will in his or her presence, if for some reason the testator or testatrix is unable to sign the will himself or herself. It is preferable, if at all possible, for the testator to sign the will by his own hand. Directing another person to sign can raise issues of testamentary capacity for a will challenger, and make probating the will more difficult.
Witness Requirements For a Valid Mississippi Will
A Mississippi will (unless wholly written and subscribed by the testator in his handwriting) must be “attested by two (2) or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator or testatrix.” See Miss. Code § 91-5-1.
Does a Mississippi Will Have To Be Notarized?
No, a Mississippi will does not have to be notarized to be valid.
A Mississippi will can be made self-proving if signed in front of a notary. Making a will self-proving operates to prove the execution of the will by affidavits of the subscribing witnesses. The affidavits may be annexed to the will or may be a part of the will, and shall state the address of each subscribing witness, and may be signed at the time the will is executed.
Pursuant to Miss. Code § 91-7-9:
The affidavit of any subscribing witness to a will, made before and certified by any officer in the state competent to administer oaths, shall be received as a substitute for the personal attendance of the affiant to prove the will where there is no contest about it.
The best way to make sure that you have created a valid will under Mississippi law that carries out your testamentary intent is to work with a Mississippi probate attorney.