Will lawyers in Howell are privileged to work with all kinds of families in order to plan for and protect their futures.  There are many tools that can be used to this end.  Probably the most common (and most basic) of them all is the will.  We’ve all seen the dramatic readings in movies and soap operas.

Aside from being a useful plot device on the screen, wills serve many other really crucial functions for basic estate planning in Michigan.  Will lawyers in Howell are full of information about how best to use a will for a specific situation, but it can be a good idea to have a little background on your own.

Types of Wills

For example, did you know that there are actually three kinds of wills?  The self-proving will is the only kind that really meets the legal requirements of a will in Michigan.  It is written and signed and has been properly witnessed.  A “holographic will” is one that’s been written by hand and doesn’t have any witnesses.  Something like this might come about, if you’re alone and realize you’re about to die and write out a will by hand.  Although technically valid under Michigan law, a holographic is much easier to challenge because it lacks the legal formalities.  The third type is the “oral will.”  That is when someone orally states their wishes.  There’s little chance of an oral will being upheld.

Will Requirements

In addition to being self-proving and being 18 years of age, there are a number of requirements that a will needs to meet to ensure that it will be valid.  In the movies mentioned above, the will usually starts out with the phrase “being of sound mind and body.”  What does “sound mind” mean, though?

In order to make a valid will in Michigan you must, of course, understand that you are making a will.  That is, you are providing for property to be distributed after death.  You also must know what property you have – not to the exact penny, but a general understanding of your assets.  You must also understand the relationship between yourself and your heirs – that is, who is receiving your assets after death?

The will itself needs to do one or more of three things.  It needs to list who inherits specific items, it needs to appoint guardians for minor children, and/or it needs to state what happens to property that isn’t specifically named in the will itself.  It will also name the “personal representative” (this person used to be known as the “executor”), who is  in charge of taking care of the estate and carrying out your obligations and wishes.  Additionally, it needs to be signed, dated, and attested by two witnesses, usually people who are not related to the person creating the will.

Smoothing the Transition

The most obvious purpose of a will is to let your personal representative know what to do with your things, but there are other purposes, as well.  For example, it simplifies the probate process.  This might not seem like that big of a deal, but when you realize the time, expense, and effort that you loved ones could end up going through, it just makes sense to ease that process.  A good wills lawyer in Howell can be a big asset in making that happen.

Setting Up Your Will in Howell

Remember that a will is just one of many options available when you are considering estate planning in Michigan.  If you have a very basic estate, a will may be a good option for you.  If you have more than a basic estate, you may consider a revocable living trust or even an irrevocable trust under certain circumstances.  If you don’t have an estate plan or want the peace of mind knowing that the estate plan you already created is actually valid in Michigan, we invite you to call our Howell will and trust lawyers to schedule an appointment.  The value of our initial consultation is $350, but we will waive that fee with the mention of this article.  Simply call (517) 548-7400 to set a date and time to meet!

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