What is a Will?
A Will is a document that directs the settlement of your estate when you are gone. A Will is signed and witnessed. A Will does not transfer any property during your lifetime.
Does everyone need a Will?
Almost everyone needs a Will. Minors cannot make Wills, nor can incompetent persons make a Will. Almost everyone else should have a Will.
There are many reasons to have a Will. A few reasons include making sure your estate does not escheat to the State, naming a guardian for your children, making things easier for your loved ones, and expressing your wishes as to where your property will go after death.
Can I make my Will myself?
Yes, but we recommend having a qualified estate planning attorney draft your Will.
The law of Wills can be complicated and it is best to have an expert on your side in drafting the Will to make sure all legal requirements are met and the Will is a comprehensive document that fulfills your objectives.
Many people unintentionally make confusing or unclear statements in a home-made Will which can cause greater legal involvement and greater legal expenses in the end.
How long does it take to make a Will?
We generally like to sit down with the client to discuss the Will. We then prepare a draft copy and mail to the client to review. Once everything is just right we have a Will signing ceremony in our office.
The process usually takes less than two weeks.
However, in an emergency, we can give expedited service and have a Will in a day or two.
Do I still need a Will even if all my property is joint?
Yes. Joint property has a place in estate planning, but it is not a perfect estate plan. Your joint owner may die before you.
What should I include in my Will?
Besides determining who will inherit your property, a Will can (to name a few things), name your personal representative, name guardians for your children, and make charitable bequests. In some cases it is possible to reduce your estate expenses.
When should I review my Will?
We recommend reviewing your Will at least every 5 years and whenever you move to a different state, get married or divorced, inherit assets, or have children or grandchildren.
May I amend my Will?
Yes. A Will is not operative until death and may be amended or voided during your lifetime.
How do I amend my Will?
You may amend your Will by making a new Will, or making a Codicil which is a writing that amends your Will.
How do I revoke my Will?
A Will may be revoked by burning, tearing, or making a new Will or Codicil.
We recommend making a new Will to clearly show your intention.
Can I leave joint property in a Will?
Joint property does not pass through a Will. The property can be mentioned, but generally the title on death goes by operation of law and not by way of the Will unless the joint tenant has predeceased you.
Can I make a Michigan Will even if I have property in other states?
Yes, we draft Wills to consider all the property owned.
Do I need a Will when I have a Trust?
Yes. We recommend a pour over Will in connection with a Trust to make sure that all assets are subject to the Trust estate plan.
It is generally best, however, to fund the Trust when you make it.
Can I avoid Probate with a Will?
No. However if probate avoidance is of concern, we can devise a plan to avoid probate using a Trust and other planning techniques.
Avoiding probate can be a good objective, but sometimes it is good to have a court involved in the settlement of an estate. This is especially true if the heirs have a history of fighting.
My relatives are giving me a hard time. What can I do to protect myself?
There are a number of techniques that can be used to make a Will safe from attack.
Using three disinterested witnesses can help.
You can have the Will notarized. This is called a "self-proving" Will.
Other more sophisticated and expensive techniques include a doctors exam before signing and videotaping the Will.