Michigan Wills, Trust, and Probate
Though drafting a will or other estate plan can be an emotional process, it is important to have good directions and a correctly drafted, coherent plan. An estate plan may include documents such as a will, power of attorney, trust, healthcare surrogate designation, or advanced care directive. Making sure that you have a good estate plan is essential to ensuring that your wishes are carried out after your death. Keep your estate plan up to date regardless of how old or wealthy you are, and make sure to change your will or other documents to reflect events such as a marriage, birth, divorce, or retirement. Run your estate plan by a Michigan estate planning lawyer to be sure that your plan is adequate and the future of your family is secure.
The wording of your will should reflect Michigan probate law. A Michigan court may declare that your will is unacceptable if your wording is erroneous. This in turn may result in the misallocation of your assets. To draft a will correctly, you must have:
Be sure to speak to a Michigan probate attorney about the Michigan requirements for drafting a legally binding will.
Changing a Will in Michigan
In Michigan, you may change your will by attaching a separate piece of paper with the changes (codicil). You may also revoke your old will by physically destroying the will or by writing a new will whose terms contradict the terms of the old will. The new will is controlling. However you decide to amend or revoke your will, be sure that you have the correct number of witnesses and terminology or you run the risk that your property will not be distributed as you would prefer. Get the advice of a Michigan will attorney when you want to alter your will.
Trusts avoid the probate process, allow you to save on taxes, and offer a confidential and flexible means of distributing your property after death. There are several possible kinds of trusts including irrevocable and revocable trusts, living or inter vivos trusts, educational trusts, special needs trusts and charitable trusts. A Michigan estate planning lawyer can help you construct a trust that is ideal for your situation.
When a citizen of Michigan dies, he or she may allocate his property to particular beneficiaries in a will, in which case the property will pass through probate. However, if the deceased does not leave his or her property in a will, or if some property is not accounted for in the will, the unaccounted for property will go through intestate succession. Thus, the state of Michigan decides, in accordance with Michigan law and based on a person’s relationship to the deceased, who gets what property.
Any person who could benefit from an estate may petition a Michigan probate court if a will lacks clarity and it is uncertain who should receive the property or in what amount. A person may also petition and demand answers to the same questions if the estate passes by intestate succession. If you are contemplating an estate petition, you should speak with a Michigan probate attorney.
If an estate in Michigan is worth less than $15,000, Michigan permits the beneficiaries to avoid the standard probate process, in favor of a simplified probate procedure that makes the distribution of the property less cumbersome than the formal probate process. To take advantage of the simplified probate process in Michigan, you must demonstrate that funeral expenses have been paid, and that the estate is valued at less that $15,000. You must also pay a $25 filing fee, file a Petition and Order for Assignment, and pay any debts of the estate within 60 days of receiving funds from the estate.
The following nonexclusive list of people may have interests in a deceased’s estate through intestate succession:
It is possible that the following assets will not go through the probate process:
After the construction of a will, parties interested in the will may challenge the will’s legality. A Michigan probate lawyer can help you sift through any worries you may have.
Michigan Code, Chapters 701.1-713.6 – Probate Code (Estates and Protected Individuals Code)