Protect Your Loved Ones with a Last Will and Testament in Michigan
How strong are your intentions to protect your loved ones financially and psychologically after your demise? By financially, we mean this: have you put it down on paper who gets what percentage of your estate or if you want your business to outlive you, ensuring that your family never lacks? And, by psychologically, this is what we mean: will your loved ones know that you cared for them even if you didn't own a lot.
Besides dealing with grief, most people will worry about what will become of your estate. If you have minor kids, especially if the other parent is unavailable or unable to care for the kids, your loved ones (friends included) want to know that they are safe, even if they are willing to help. You want your kids to grow up knowing that you cared about their wellbeing. Also, you don't want to drive a wedge between your family for one reason or the other, if you can let them inherit some part of your estate, right?
Well, considering these thoughts, you should think of and act on creating a last will and testament. To give you a gentle nudge in the right direction, consider downloading our free Michigan last will and testament form.
A free last will and testament in Michigan refers to the one document that allows you to name beneficiaries to your estate while also letting you divide your estate among your loved ones. With a last will, you can decide to gift a charitable organization close to your heart or if you want your friend to get something from your estate. Without the last will, the state steps in and most, if not all of your wishes will not be respected. Pets, friends, and organizations are low (and even nonexistent) on the list of persons who could inherit your estate.
Why would you need a last will even if you have a living will?
The answer is simple: a last will is enforceable after your death. The living will is only enforceable while you are breathing but when you are unavailable to do some things or make some major decisions or when you are mentally or physically incapacitated.
Legal requirements for a valid last will and testament
The creator of the will is the testator, the person appointed to take care of minor kids: the guardian, and the person in charge of overseeing and executing the will: the executor.
The testator must be 18 years or older, mentally sound, and acting voluntarily.
The testator must sign the will, and if they are unable to, someone else could sign it in the presence of the testator, and as per their direction.
Two or more witnesses should sign the will after they witness/ affirm that the testator or their personal representative has signed the will under the testator's directions.
It should have a list of beneficiaries.
The will must be in writing. In Michigan, the state acknowledges written will only. It also acknowledges wholly handwritten wills as long as the handwriting on the whole document (material, signature, and date) belongs to the testator.
Even after doing all this, the probate court must validate the contents of the will. For validation, the probate court (a court-supervised process for asset distribution of estates of deceased persons without wills). After validation, the executor is granted the authority to manage the estate, pay taxes and debts, and then distribute the estate.
However, when dealing with a small estate, the executor may use an affidavit to sign off the estate to the named beneficiaries.
Changing the will
You may change the will at any time using a codicil executable in the same manner as the older version of the will
Revoking the will
You may revoke the will by executing a new will. Alternatively, you may destroy the will with the intention of revoking its powers.
Exceptions in property distribution
A homestead allowance of $15,000
A family allowance of not more than $18,000 or periodic installments less than 1/12 of the amount to be given monthly for the rest of the year (1 year).
Exempt property: appliances, furnishings, automobiles, furniture, and personal effects from the estate not exceeding $10,000 more than the security interests of these properties.
Dower rights: widows get 1/3 of the husband's property owned during the marriage.
Elective share: In Michigan, surviving spouses rightfully get an elective share which is 1/2 the sum or share otherwise passed to a spouse should the testator have died intestate. This value is reduced by 1/2 the value of all the property acquired by the named spouse from the decedent using other means besides intestate or testate succession after the death of the decedent.
Repercussions of not creating a will
If you don't have a will, intestacy laws are invoked, and you are declared intestate. The state divides the estate as follows:
Unless a decedent has descendants/ children, the spouse gets the whole estate. But, if there are children involved, the spouse gets half the estate as well as $150,000 of the intestate property, and descendants get the rest.
Children inherit the whole estate in the absence of a spouse
Parents of the decedent inherit the rest of the estate when there is a spouse but no kids.
If a decedent doesn't have a surviving spouse, kids or parents, other relatives including siblings or grandparents inherit the estate.
Would you like to create a will today? Get our free last will and testament forms to get started in Michigan.