Information on Wills in Michigan

By A.L. Kennedy

In Michigan, the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, also known as EPIC, governs wills. A Michigan will must meet certain requirements spelled out in EPIC. Wills in Michigan are supervised by county probate courts, which oversee the work a personal representative does in carrying out the will and which hear challenges against the validity of a will, according to the Calhoun County Courts.

Definition

Michigan's Estates and Protected Individuals Code defines a will as an "instrument that appoints a personal representative, revokes or revises another will, nominates a guardian, or expressly excludes or limits the right of an individual or class to succeed to the decedent's property that is passing by intestate succession," according to Michigan Compiled Laws section 700.1108. A document that does any one of these things may be considered a will in Michigan, as long as it is in a valid will format.

Format

A Michigan will is valid only if it is in writing and signed by the testator and at least two witnesses, according to Michigan Compiled Laws section 700.2502. Michigan law makes an exception for holographic, or handwritten, wills. In Michigan, a will that is signed, dated, and has "material portions" written in the testator's handwriting may be a valid will even if it is not witnessed, according to Michigan Compiled Laws section 700.2502.

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Self-Proved Wills

A Michigan will may be "self-proved" if it includes a sworn and notarized statement by the testator, or person who made the will, and each of the two witnesses. Section 700.2504 of the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, or EPIC, gives the proper wording for the sworn and notarized statements. Although a Michigan will does not have to be notarized to be valid, the self-proving clauses make probate easier by eliminating the need for the will's witnesses to testify in court to prove the will is valid.

Revocation

In Michigan, a will can be revoked either by making a new will that says it revokes any current wills or by destroying all or part of a will, according to Michigan Compiled Laws section 700.2507. If the new will does not say it revokes a previous will, the Michigan probate courts will assume the new will revokes the previous will if the new will covers all of the testator's property. The probate court will assume the new will supplements or replaces only part of the previous will if the new will only covers part of the testator's property or only addresses part of what is covered in the previous will such as the name of the personal representative or guardian.

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What Items Are Probated in a Will?

When a person dies, his last will and testament gives instructions about distributing his property. This legal document must be prepared and signed according to the laws of your state. If you wish, your assets can be listed in your will and handled through the probate court system. However, many people make arrangements during their lifetimes for some or all of their assets to pass without the need for probate.

What Are the Duties of a Will Executor in Michigan?

In Michigan, the executor of a will is known as the "personal representative," according to Article VII of the Michigan Estates and Protected Individuals Code. The personal representative has a duty to follow the instructions in a deceased person's will after that person dies, including paying the estate's remaining debts and distributing property to the beneficiaries named in the will. The personal representative is supervised by a Michigan probate court to ensure that he carries out his duties according to law.

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Writing a will means that you decide who acquires your property when you die. If you don’t make a will, you are said to be “intestate” and the state decides who is entitled to your estate. In Missouri, a person of sound mind who is at least 18 years of age, or an emancipated minor, may make a valid will. This person is commonly referred to as the “testator.”

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