Many people understand that they should create a last will and testament. These documents allow you to decide what will happen to your assets and dependents upon your death. While it is widely known that it is a good practice to create a will, many individuals are unsure of the laws surrounding wills in Michigan. These laws are important to understand before drafting a will because if a will does not comply with these laws, the court may deem it invalid, and your estate will be divided as though you did not have a will in the first place.
When a person dies without a valid will in place, their estate is subject to Michigan’s intestacy laws. These laws determine how your estate is divided. The intestacy laws in Michigan dictate that your closest relatives are the first to receive your property. Often, these relatives are the spouse and children of the deceased.
If you do not have a spouse or children, your estate is then distributed among your parents or your grandchildren. When a person does not have surviving parents or grandchildren, the estate is divided among siblings or grandparents. The list continues on to include more distant relatives such as siblings, aunts, uncles, and more when there are no surviving siblings or grandparents.
In the instance that the court does not find any surviving relatives, either through blood or marriage, the state will take the estate.
You can include anything you would like in your will, but it is largely how it is signed that determines whether or not a will is enforceable. You must sign your will in front of two witnesses, and those witnesses must also sign the will within a reasonable amount of time.
Self-proving wills are also valid in Michigan. These wills can expedite the probate process because the court does not have to contact the witnesses that signed the will. Although it is not a requirement for wills to get a will notarized in the state, self-proving wills must be notarized in order to be deemed valid.
Holographic, or handwritten, wills are considered legal and valid in Michigan. These wills also typically do not require witness signatures. They must be written completely in the testator’s handwriting, including their signature. The testator is the person that created the will.
You are not required to speak to a Grand Rapids estate planning attorney when creating your will. However, it is recommended that you do, particularly if you need a large estate plan or there are complications with it, such as if you wish to disinherit your spouse. At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we will ensure your will is enforceable, and help you create other parts of your estate plan, such as trusts and power of attorney. Call us or contact us online today so we can help you start planning for the future.
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