Having a will in michigan

By: Stuart Williams | Estate Planning Lawyer

A “will” allows you to determine who should receive your personal items, valuable assets, and who should act as your executor someday when you pass away.

However, when "will-based" estate planning is used, a "probate estate" is created and any assets titled in the decedent's name will have to go through the time and expense of probate court in order to be inherited by loved ones.

A Will Can also Be Ignored

If your spouse disagree's with what you've left them in your will, Michigan law provides that a spouse has the option of ignoring their spouse's will and taking what is called their "elective share" which amounts to a large majority of a deceased spouses estate. (*This is how many children of a blended family are accidentally disinherited).

Will-based Plans Require Probate

"Probate" is the court process of transferring title of a deceased person's assets to his or her family. A judge will order the transfer of your assets to those people whom your will says should receive them. Probate can last a year or longer and can cost tens-of-thousands of dollars, so "avoiding probate" is a common estate planning goal. A deceased person's "probate estate" is comprised of each asset that needs to be transferred out of their name, and into the names of his/her beneficiaries.

If You Die Without a Will

If you die without a will, the State of Michigan will appoint a personal representative for you and will distribute your property to your family as provided in the Estates and Protected Individuals Code (EPIC). The EPIC also provides that your spouse will receive the vast majority of your assets, and if you have children by a different spouse, those children will be entitled to a small share of your estate.

If you have children from a prior relationship, or have other reasons for leaving your property to someone other than your spouse, you should consider consulting with a trust lawyer to protect shares of your property you desire specific beneficiaries to inherit.

At Family Wills and Trusts, we’ll make sure that there are no gaps in your estate plan that would leave you and your family exposed to unnecessary financial waste, headaches, or stress. Request free information about estate planning or Schedule a Personal Planning Session to see how you can benefit from working with us below.