Estate Planning 101: Where to Start with Your Will

Planning for the future of your estate is a smart move. When you leave everything until the last minute or, even worse, make no plan at all, the future of your estate will be compromised. Under Michigan state law your closest relatives will still get all property and assets, but there will be no control over who gets what.

Who Can Make a Will in Michigan?

Any adult over the age of eighteen with sufficient mental capacity can make a will. Michigan has a statutory will that is fairly easy to fill out and allows you to do the following once you have made a decision in each respect:

  • Distribute your property and assets to whomever you choose
  • Name an estate administrator
  • Appoint a guardian for any minor children
  • Make cash gifts to one or two charities or individuals

Your will is executed once it has been signed and dated by yourself and two adult witnesses. You may keep it in a safe place with your other important papers or, for a nominal fee, deposit it with your county’s probate court. You can change your will at any time and even revoke an earlier will by executing a new one.

More Advanced Estate Planning Needs

While statutory wills are generally sufficient for most people, they are basic and will not let you do the following:

  • Gift cash to more than two charities or individuals
  • Leave the balance of your estate (after personal items and cash gifts) to a nonrelative
  • Transfer title to any assets you own jointly with someone else

These plans require input from a Michigan estate planning attorney who can ensure that the correct steps are followed to make your wishes legal.

A statutory will also won’t meet your estate planning needs if you own a business, have a lot of valuable assets, or a complicated family situation, such as children from more than one relationship or children with special needs. Gun owners may also want to pass their weapons and accessories on to their heirs by setting up a gun trust, which will allow beneficiaries to bypass the federal and state firearm transfer requirements.

An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you with creating a gun trust, business succession plan, power of attorney, and other arrangements that are beyond the scope of the typical statutory will. For assistance in setting up a will and other estate planning services, call the Law Office of Melissa M. Pearce today. We will work closely with you to set your wishes in a legally binding document so that you can have peace of mind knowing how everything will be distributed when you’re gone.

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Written by Law Office of Melissa M. Pearce, PLC

Law Office of Melissa M. Pearce, PLC

Melissa has been passionately serving the people of Southeast Michigan with high quality family law as well as firearms law. She is committed to providing the best possible legal representation to her clients and their families.