How to Make a Valid Michigan Will
As you would likely guess, we would always recommend you speak with competent legal counsel before making your will. However, you are not required to hire an attorney to prepare your will. In fact, the legal requirements for creating a valid Michigan will are as follows:
- The testator (person whose will it is) must be at least 18 years old and have sufficient mental capacity;
- The will must be in writing;
- The will must be signed by the testator, or in the testator's name by some other individual at the testator's direction and in the testator's conscious presence;
- The testator must sign the will voluntarily and free of any threat, coercion, or pressure; and
- The will must be signed by at least 2 individuals who witnessed the testator signing the will.
In addition, a will that does not comply with requirements 2,3, or 5 above can still be considered valid holographic will if it is dated and if the testator's signature and the document's material portions are in the testator's own handwriting.
And finally, Michigan law actually provides a very limited form will called a "statutory will." The idea is that if you complete and sign the form exactly the way the form instructs you (including executing it with a sound mind, without duress, and in the presence of two witnesses) it will be a valid Michigan will. The form is actually fully laid out in the Michigan statute at MCL 700.2519, which is why it's referred to as a statutory will. There is also a very handy online tool (linked here) that can be used to complete the statutory will form, which then must be printed for proper signing.
As far as creating an adequate overall plan, wills alone have many limitations and weaknesses. If you're considering creating your own will, be very careful, and ask yourself why you're concerned with creating a will in the first place. The reasons for creating the will likely justify the investment in hiring a good lawyer to help you. At the very least, go meet with a local attorney to discuss your situation. Many, including our office, offer a free consultation, and such an important document certainly justifies the investment of your time, if nothing else.
If you would like to discuss your estate planning with attorney Benjamin M. White, please contact our office at (616) 920-1932 to schedule an appointment.