Not all Wills are created in a stuffy law office. Many are prepared in some odd places. The Probate Pro has seen it all.
Death bed Wills signed at the hospital..
Wills written on toilet paper…
Wills written on envelopes…
Wills written on slips of paper scattered throughout the house.
Recently, my firm represented a grieving surviving spouse. Four days before her husband’s death, their daughter hand-wrote a will allegedly at the decedent’s request. The Will provided that the assets would be gifted to the daughter and son, and provided little to the surviving spouse. On behalf of the surviving spouse, The Probate Pro objected to the admission of the Will.
To be valid as a Will and admitted to probate, Michigan has specific requirements. MCL 700.2502 states that for a Will to be valid, in general it must:
1. Be in writing (that means no verbal Wills or statements on video are permissible)
2. Signed (by the person or by another person at their direction)
3. Witnessed by at least 2 people (note that there is no notarization requirement)
A Will becomes a valid holographic Will, if it is dated and the person’s signature and the documents material portions are in the person’s handwriting. The requirement of at least 2 witness signatures is not needed. Holographic Wills are common and are often created in emergency situations or when contemplating suicide. In these circumstances, the formality of typing a Will and obtaining witness signatures is not practical.
The issue in this case was that the holographic Will was signed as a death bed Will after being prepared by the daughter in the daughter’s handwriting purportedly at the decedent’s request. Following extensive litigation, The Probate Pro successfully convinced the Court that the handwritten Will did not qualify as a holographic Will because it was not in the decedent’s own handwriting. The Court also ruled that the death bed will failed to meet the criteria of an appropriately executed Will. The Court refused to admit the death bed Will to probate and the decedent was deemed to have died intestate. As a result of the amount in the estate, all of the assets passed directly to the surviving spouse.
When disputes arise, The Probate Pro ’s team of experienced litigation attorneys will represent trustees, personal representatives and beneficiaries in probate and trust administration matters as well as contested and uncontested guardianship and conservatorship matters. If you are faced with litigation involving probate, whether as a personal representative, heir, devisee, or as a creditor, The Probate Pro can aggressively represent your interest.