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When a person dies their estate needs to be divided somehow. If they die with a will, then that will governs how the majority of their state is divided and distributed among living heirs and other people or organizations, with only minimal interference by the law. If a person dies without a will, however, they are considered to have died intestate and their estate will be divided according to the governing laws of Michigan. In such cases, any items or money the person who has passed wished to see to certain people may not go to them, as the only guiding force in the execution of their estate will be the law. To avoid this problem it is important to create a will and to update it regularly over time as your financial situation changes. In Michigan, there is a Statutory Will form to help with this process and to allow a person to create a legally binding will quickly and easily. If a person possesses a lot of wealth or is unsure of how to provide for issues such as estate taxes in their will, however, it is best to consult an estate planning attorney. Otherwise the execution of an estate may not go as planned.
Step 1: Determine if You Can Create a Will
In Michigan, like many other states, the requirements for writing a will are quite simple: you are at least 18 years of age, you are of sound body and mind, and you are not under duress. If you meet these requirements then you can create a will to safeguard your estate and intentions.
Step 2: Choose the Type of Will You Want
There are many types of wills available in Michigan, but there are only two divisions that you need to concern yourself with here: the Statutory Will and all other wills. The Statutory Will is designed as a one-size-fits-all form. This will work for most people, but as a result of its generality it will not provide completely adequate coverage for those facing unusual or extraordinary circumstances. In general, you should not use the Statutory Will if you meet any of the following conditions:
• You have large amounts of property
• You have a blended family
• You do not have a spouse or children
• You have children with special needs
• You own a business
If any of these conditions apply to you, then you should consult an estate planning attorney in order to draft your will. This is because there are a number of legal requirements that alternative wills must meet, and any mistake might cause your estate to be divided in a manner that goes against your wishes.
Step 3: Compose the Will According to Legal Guidelines
Thanks to Michigan’s Statutory Will Form you can fill your will out quickly and easily. Should you require an alternative form of will, such as if you’d like to make a joint will with your spouse, then you will need to draft a unique will, ideally under the guidance of an attorney. To compose the will yourself, there are also several options for how to do this:
• Formal Will: Adheres to the requirements outlined in MCL 700.2502 and is one of the more common types of will in Michigan. It must be in writing, i.e. type
• Holographic Will: A handwritten will composed by the hand of the testator
• Statuory Will: A fill-in-the-blank will
• Writing Intended as a Will: Any form of writing made by the decedent that can be proven to constitute the decedent’s will, a partial or complete revocation of their will, an addition or alteration to their will, or a partial or complete revival of a decedent’s formerly revoked will or any part of it therein
As you fill out or compose a will just make sure that you do not let others pressure you into changing the way you want your will to function. This would be duress and might be grounds for invalidating your will in the future.
Step 4: Sign the Will
In the case of a Formal or Statutory will, the testator must sign the will or instruct someone to sign the will for them in the presence of two witnesses, each of which will then subscribe their names to the will as witnesses. In the case of a holographic will, however, the testator is the only person who needs to sign the will and the will is valid as long as it is dated and the handwriting is shown to be the testator’s own. As for writing intended as a will, it helps to sign and date this writing, but the final decision comes down to a judge or jury.
Step 5: Put the Will Somewhere Safe
Once the will is completed, signed, and witnessed, you will need to place it somewhere safe until the time you choose to revise it or you pass away. There are several options. If you wish to keep the will you should place it in a fire proof case or in a safe deposit box and inform your family or the executor of your will where it is located. You may also leave it with an estate attorney should you desire to do so, treating them as a neutral party. Finally, for a $25 fee you can file your will with the Probate Court, though it will cost $25 every time you file a new version with them.
Step 6: Revise the Will
While you do not have to revise a will, it is generally a good idea to go back on occasion and consider how your feelings or finances have changed, and whether that merits a new will. If you do want to alter or revise a will, you should not make corrections on the will itself. Rather you should complete a new will and destroy the old one entirely. Otherwise, you can add a codicil, or amendment, to the old will. Just make sure to clarify at the beginning of any new will or codicil the date and what it is intended to do, which in the case of a new will means stating that you void all versions of your will that existed prior to now.