What is a Will?

Many people throughout Michigan are interested in learning about a will, what it is, why they need one, and at what point they should have a will drawn up by an attorney specializing in this area. A will is one of those things many put off thinking they will take care of it eventually, but eventually is often too late. Old age (or even middle age) is not a guarantee in life, so the time to have yours drawn up is now. Protecting the future of the ones you love gives you peace of mind.

What is a will? It is a legal document that can stand on its own or as a component of an estate plan. When a will is drafted by a qualified wills and trusts lawyer, it basically outlines who will benefit from your assets upon your passing. A will can also provide direction regarding your funeral wishes, who will take guardianship of any children you may have, which specific assets will go to whom, and more.

Assets can include not only cash but residential or commercial property, investments, business interests, retirement plans, insurance policies or other intangible assets, even furnishings and artwork. The assets distributed in a will can cover almost anything you deem as valuable.

If you do not have a will drafted prior to your passing, any assets you have will be dispersed by a court. This is important to keep in mind especially if you have children, a spouse, or other loved ones you want to be certain are taken care of once you are no longer here. Writing a comprehensive will ensures that your assets will be dispersed according to your wishes. Should you die intestate (meaning without a will) your assets will be divided among your partner/spouse and children by the court. Without a will, court costs for dispersing your assets will only add to the burden your family carries. It cannot be stressed enough how important a will is if you have minor children.

What happens if you are single and do not have children? In this case, if you do have a will drawn up you decide how your assets are dispersed whether to other family members, a special friend, or even to charities that are meaningful to you. Otherwise the state makes the decision as to which (if any) living relatives inherit your assets.

A will is the only legal document in which you have control over who will be your minor children’s guardian should both you and the children’s other parent pass. Many parents have thoughts about who would care for their children if the unexpected should happen. It may be that you or your spouse have a sibling who you would trust to love and protect your children’s interests, or grandparents. Regardless of who you would want as a guardian for your kids, without a will that stipulates your wishes you cannot be certain what the state will decide after you are gone.

A will is not set in stone. Once you have a will drafted by your attorney, it can be updated to reflect any changes. Many spouses end up divorcing; some families adopt children. There are circumstances in which a beneficiary in a person’s will passes. A marriage can result in changes you want made to your will. There are ever-changing circumstances in life that are often unforeseen, however that should not be a concern if you are thinking about having your will drawn up.

There are specific requirements under Michigan law pertaining to written wills such as those you would write out or type on a piece of paper yourself. These types of wills are often not considered legally binding, so you should not feel secure that your wishes for your estate will be carried out.

Online you can find websites advertising wills at a low cost, however it is vital to understand these sites provide a form that applies to many states and not Michigan’s state laws regarding wills specifically. Because of this it isn’t uncommon for these wills to be deemed invalid.

We encourage you to have your will drafted today; you do not know what tomorrow may bring. Those in Michigan can rely on our highly skilled wills attorneys to ensure your wishes are carried out so that your loved ones are not left to face chaos following your death.