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Wills Lawyer in Michigan

A Last Will and Testament is a legal instrument you create to instruct how you want your property distributed upon your death. Who gets the house? Who should be the trustee for minor children? Who gets a bank account? Who takes care of the pets? These are just some of the questions upon which a Will answers and instructs, and just some of the information we will obtain to draft a solid Last Will and Testament that can stand up in probate and prevent challenges to its validity.

Our estate planning attorney in Michigan will review your assets and discuss with you what you want with regard to your estate. Making sure your goals for today and tomorrow are met is our personal goal at the law office of Andrew Byers. Contact us online or at (248) 469-4261 to learn more about Wills specifically and estate planning generally so that you and your heirs do not get surprised in a way that is to your detriment. 

What is the Purpose of a Will in Michigan?

The person creating a Will is known as a testator. The testator devises property and assets to named beneficiaries in a Will. This gives testators far more control over assets – both while they are alive and after they pass away.

As such, the Will serves four general but important purposes:

  1. They allow property owners to control what happens to their belongings, even after they die.
  2. They incentivize productivity by allowing people to control what happens to their property after death.
  3. They protect the decedent's heirs, including minor children by appointing a guardian and trustee.
  4. They allow you to appoint who you want to oversee the estate.

In order for the Will to work as intended, it must adhere to proper procedures in accordance with Michigan state law.

General Requirements of a Will in Metro Detroit

Each state's requirements of a Will and what makes it valid may differ somewhat, but all states have four requirements that are true no matter what. 

  1. The testator must have testamentary intent, meaning the testator subjectively intended to create the Will.
  2. The testator must have testamentary capacity, meaning that they understood they were creating the Will at the time of its execution.
  3. The Will must have been executed without the interference of fraud, duress, undue influence, or mistake.
  4. The Will must have been duly executed with a sworn statement and witnesses or a notary and witnesses.

Intestacy: The "Default" Method if You Die Without a Will

If someone dies without a Will, this is known as dying "intestate." Should a person die intestate, the State of Michigan has a series of laws that will control the distribution of your property. There are two key reasons to create a Will, rather than relying on intestacy laws to devise your property, and the reasons relate to family and probate matters. 


Intestacy laws aim to pass property in a way that most people would want it to pass, which basically means any property is passed to immediate family members first, like a spouse, children, then parents, siblings, grandparents, and so on. Intestacy laws only benefit you if you are happy about your hard-earned property going to your immediate family member or being split up amongst these people. For example, if you are married and have children, under one provision of Michigan's intestacy law, MCL 700.2102, your estate is split up amongst your spouse and children. Most people prefer to have their spouse inherit it all, especially if the children are young.

Another problem with intestacy is that if you have little connection with a family member, that will not be taken into consideration when the state's laws are applied to disburse your assets. This could result in property, (or even the custody of a minor child) passing to a relative whom you would not wish to be a beneficiary and/or guardian.


Property governed by intestacy law must pass through probate court, first, which can be expensive and time-consuming, leaving fewer benefits and more burdens for your loved ones. That said, a valid Will also goes through probate to implement its provisions. The only difference is a well-crafted Last Will and Testament may go through probate faster because in the Will you would have:

  • nominated an executor (called the Personal Representative in Michigan). 
  • stated if the Personal Representative must post a bond.
  • stated if you want informal or formal probate (informal requires less court hearings).
  • specified other fiduciaries like guardians and testamentary trustees.
  • made it clear who you want to inherit from you and how (outright distributions or in trusts). 

Further, there are other ways to distribute property according to your wishes while also avoiding probate completely. Speaking with an estate planning lawyer will help you determine what will work best in your specific situation and with your specific assets.  

The Risks of “Do-It-Yourself” Wills in Michigan

The expense and lack of control that comes from dying intestate, coupled with the perceived costs of hiring a lawyer to write a Will, has led to some people to consider the use of “do-it-yourself” wills. These forms, often found online for a fee, claim to be just as good as a traditional Will prepared by an experienced attorney. 

These "one size fits all" documents, however, are not tailored to your unique circumstances or Michigan state law. Estate planning is controlled by the laws of each of the fifty states, not the federal government. The online DIY Will companies claim their forms our state specific, but when will you find out if the Will will work or not? The answer is after you are deceased, when it is too late to fix it. The process to create a DIY will is often accompanied by other mistakes that open the door for challenges to the validity of a Will upon your death or make the process of settling your estate more expensive and time consuming. In fact, a court may dismiss the Will completely.

When you are considering making a Will, keep the following five tips in mind:

  1. Define who your family members are. For example, if you brought children into a second marriage, make sure who constitutes “family” in your Will.
  2. Consider how your debts and expenses will be paid, including anything from credit cards to personal loans to funeral expenses.
  3. Make specific bequests or gifts so that there is no confusion about who gets what.
  4. Provide a catch-all clause for assets that you do not specifically give away.
  5. Finally, be specific about people and property as much as you can. Wherever there is any ambiguity there is also room for a challenge.

Make sure your Will is in compliance with Michigan state laws.

Contact an Attorney for Wills in Troy, Michigan

If you are considering making a Last Will and Testament, make sure that you comply with the law and provide very specific instructions in the Will. At the law office of Andrew Byers, our estate planning attorney helps clients in Metro Detroit create strong Wills that comply with state law so you don't have to worry about it. We know how hard you worked for your assets and understand why it is so important to distribute your assets in the way you see fit to do it. Contact us by filling out the online form or calling us directly at (248) 469-4261 to schedule a consultation.

How I Can Help

I help seniors and their families to prevent the devastating financial effects of long term care. I assist and represent clients in and from the entire metro Detroit area, including all communities in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties. In-person meetings with Andrew Byers are available at his office Monday through Friday. Video conferences over Zoom or Microsoft Teams are also available.

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