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Last Will and Testament

For One Person

A do-it-yourself last will that’s easy to personalize.

$99
What’s included:
What’s included
Step-by-step guided process
Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
A last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes
Free changes and revisions to your will for up to one full year after purchase

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Estate Planning Package

For One person

All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

$189
What’s included:
What’s included
Last will and testament
Health care directive
Power of attorney
Free HIPAA release form
A comprehensive plan — for less
Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

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Draw up a valid Michigan will quickly and easily

If you live in Michigan and die without a will, you lose control of how your property is distributed to your loved ones. That’s because in cases where a Michigander has no will, the courts will step in to distribute their assets under the terms of the state’s intestacy statute. FindLaw’s easy-to-use tools to draft a will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and keeps strangers from making decisions on your behalf. Ease a challenging period for your family by clearly communicating your desires about what happens to your property, when beneficiaries can inherit, and any individuals you prefer not to include. This ensures your assets align precisely with your true intentions, providing clarity and peace of mind for all involved.

JP_Finet_image

Written by:

J.P. Finet, J.D.

Contributing Author

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Reviewed by:

Tim Kelly, J.D.

Contributing Author

How It Works

It only takes minutes to control your future. Need help? Contact one of our directory attorneys.

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time.

Gather information

You will need a list of your assets, contact information for important people, and any wishes you want to be honored when you’re gone.

Complete your documents

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing.

Make it legal

Carefully follow the instructions provided in the form, which may include signing your documents in front of witnesses or a notary.

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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Your next steps for creating a valid Michigan will

Following these steps will ensure your Michigan will meets all of the state’s legal requirements and is properly validated:

List the assets to be included in your will

The will-writing process begins with a list of the property you want to include for distribution. There are other methods for distributing your property before or after you die, so you want to be clear about the assets you want to assign to your beneficiaries through your will.

In Michigan, wills must go through a probate process that usually lasts six months and can drag on for years in cases where the will is challenged. That is why people will sometimes choose to pass their assets to their heirs through other methods. Small estates of less than $15,000 that do not include real estate can often avoid probate. Common methods for distributing property outside of your will include:

  • Gifting your property to others during your lifetime
  • Establishing a trust to hold your assets for the benefit of someone else
  • Naming beneficiaries to your retirement accounts and life insurance policies
  • Naming a payable on death beneficiary for your financial accounts

Your list of assets should include your home, property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You should then determine which of those assets you want to pass along to your beneficiaries through your will so that they can be included in the document.

Choose your beneficiaries

Michigan law gives you a great deal of freedom in how you distribute your assets. But that freedom also means you need to be careful in who you name as your beneficiaries because, in most cases, your assets will only be passed to those named in your will.

When considering beneficiaries, the best place to start is with those who depend on you financially. That may include people who are outside of your immediate family and even a charity or other organization you support. If you name more than one beneficiary, you should explain how your assets should be divided among them. This can be done by dividing your estate into portions (one-half, one-third, etc.) or by stipulating a percentage of your assets that each beneficiary should receive.

Choose an executor

The executor of an estate is the individual who is responsible for ensuring your assets are distributed in the manner laid out in your will. That means it is essential you choose someone capable of handling the responsibility and who will act in the best interests of your beneficiaries.

In many cases, the best person to serve as the executor of your estate is your spouse or one of your children. However, sometimes those individuals are either unable to perform the necessary tasks or are unavailable. In those instances, you can reach out to either a member of your extended family or trusted friends who are willing to take on the responsibility. If worse comes to worst, you can always pay someone like a local attorney to serve as your executor.

Choose who will care for your minor children

Children under the age of 18 are not allowed to inherit assets or property in Michigan. That means you need to appoint a guardian to care for your children until they reach 18. The only three requirements for someone to serve as a guardian in Michigan are that they need to be at least 18 years old, suitable, and willing to serve.

It is not uncommon for someone to name one guardian to see to the day-to-day needs of their children and a separate financial guardian to protect the inheritance and ensure the primary guardian is spending prudently. In most cases, people choose family members or close friends as guardians. You should also appoint someone who is financially stable, in good health, and shares your parenting style.

Execute your will

For a will to be recognized as valid in Michigan, it must have been properly executed. That means it must meet three requirements:

  • It must be in writing
  • It must be signed by the person who made the will or at that person’s direction while they are present
  • At least two witnesses must sign it

A will that does meet those three requirements may still be a valid legal document if it is in the handwriting of the person making the will and has been signed and dated. Additionally, the probate court may find a will to be valid if it can be established by other evidence that the testator intended it to serve as their will. While there is no requirement that a Michigan will be notarized, having the will notarized by a notary public and signed by two witnesses will make it “self-proving” and allow the probate court to avoid contacting the witnesses who signed it.

Store your will in a safe place

You should keep your will, along with other estate planning documents, in a place that is both safe and easily accessed. You should also share its location with someone you trust so it is easily found when needed. Many people store their will in a home safe or locked filing cabinet. However, if you choose to lock it up, be sure that others know how to access it.

Some people choose to keep their will in a safe deposit box at their local bank. While this guarantees that the document will be protected, if you did not give your family, executor, or attorney access to the box, they will need a court order to do so. Seeking a court order is both an added expense for the estate and can take a great deal of time.

Review your will regularly

Most people view the making of a will as a one-time task, but it should be reviewed every few years. These reviews ensure it provides for any changes in circumstances. Things change over time, and your personal, family, or economic situation may not be reflected in your original will. Reviewing your will every few years ensures it still reflects how you would like your estate to be handled.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if you:

  • Have a past divorce, blended family, or other complex family situation
  • Have a high-value estate
  • Own a business
  • Want to create a special needs trust
  • Want legal review of your completed will
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Frequently asked questions about Michigan wills

Your last will and testament can be used to address how a wide variety of issues should be handled after you die. Those issues include:

  • Establishing who should get your property and assets and how they should be divided
  • Specifying that your assets be distributed to certain individuals at specific times or under certain conditions
  • Naming a guardian to care for your minor children and make decisions on their behalf
  • Naming a conservator to manage the assets and property that you leave minor children
  • Naming a personal representative to ensure that the terms of the will are followed

Not everyone has the power to make a valid will under Michigan law. To create a will you must be at least 18 years old and be of sound mind. For a person to have sufficient mental capacity to make a will they must meet the following criteria:

  • Understand that they are deciding how their property will be distributed when they die
  • Know the nature and extent of their property
  • Know who their closest relatives are
  • Understand that their signature shows their approval of the will’s terms

If you are a Michigan resident and die without making a will, you are said to have died intestate and the probate court will distribute your personal property and assets according to the state’s intestate succession statutes. In cases of intestacy, the laws divide your assets among your surviving spouse, children, and parents based on your family situation when you die.

Michigan law allows you to change or revoke your will at any time after it was written. If you want to make minor changes to your will you can add an amendment, known as a codicil. For the codicil to be recognized by the probate court, it must meet the requirements of a valid will: it must be in writing, signed, and have two witnesses.

If you want to make major changes to your will, it is usually recommended that you first revoke the existing will. This can be done by writing a new will that explicitly states the previous will was revoked or physically destroying the earlier version of the signed will. With no revocation, Michigan law assumes you wanted both wills to be valid, with the new will only taking priority when its terms conflict with the terms of the older will.

living will is a legal document that states your wishes concerning your end-of-life medical treatment should you be unable to communicate them. A living will is also known as an advance directive and lets you express your wishes to your family members and doctors so that they do not need to guess your preferred health care choices if you are suffering from a serious illness.

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