In the state of Michigan, a valid will must comply with MCL 700.2502. It must exist in writing. On top of this, it is recommended to create a written will with the assistance of a competent estate planning lawyer. Another requirement under Michigan law is that the will must be signed by the testator, the person making it. In the event this does not occur, it is possible for the will to be signed by another person in his or her name at the testator’s direction and in the testator’s presence. Additionally, it must be signed by two individuals who witnessed the testator sign or the testator must have the signature acknowledged with a notary public.
The Holographic Will
A valid holographic will in the state of Michigan looks a bit different from a traditional one. If a holographic will is dated, it does not need to be witnessed as long as the signature and document’s material portions are completed in the testator’s own handwriting.
Michigan’s Substantial Compliance Rule states that if the proponent of the will can show with clear and convincing evidence that the document was intended by the decedent to be written, the court can find it to be admissible. For example, if a document was intended to be the decedent’s will, but was signed in the wrong location, it is possible for the court to find the document admissible as a will.
The Statutory Will
With the proliferation of wills that can be found on the internet or in stores, the existence of statutory wills has dwindled over time. A statutory will is a pre-printed form in which a person must do nothing more than fill in certain designated blanks. Michigan’s statutory will is limited in its application but permits the following provisions:
- You may leave up to two cash gifts of any amount to people or charities.
- You may write a list of personal and household items and identify who is to receive each item.
- You may select a personal representative to administer your property.
- You may appoint a guardian and conservator in case you and your spouse both pass before any children reach the age of 18 years.
A Lost Will
If an original will cannot be located upon the death of the testator, and the testator was in possession of the original, there exists a rebuttable presumption that it was destroyed with the intent to revoke it. The presumption can be overcome with appropriate evidence of the testator’s intent. This situation is governed by the Michigan statute MCL 700.3402(1)(c).
Whether you have a will does not dictate whether you need to go through the probate process; rather, the existence of a will provides a road map for the court on how you want your assets to be distributed. If you would like to create an estate plan to discuss avoiding the probate process, or have any questions regarding wills, call us at (833)PROBATE or visit us at theprobatepro.com.