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  • Kelli King-Penner, Esq. & Melissa Dixon, Esq., Mannor Law Group, PLLC

All About Wills 101

What is a Will?

Think of a Last Will and Testament as a letter you write to a judge detailing your final wishes about what to do with your estate when you die. A will states what you would like to happen with your property and assets when you die and can also address other decisions like who would care for your minor children. The main purpose of a will is to put your final wishes in writing. Keep in mind, a will does not take effect until you die and only after a probate proceeding has been opened by the probate court.

What does a Will Include?

Your will should include at least the following information: identifying information such as your name, where you reside, and who your family is, such as spouse and children. It should also state who you would like to serve as personal representative, or executor, of the estate. This is the person who will have the authority to carry out your wishes. Lastly, it should state how you would like your property and assets divided. These are important requirements that must be followed to make a will legally enforceable. Wills can be very simple or very complex depending on the circumstances.

What Happens if I die Without a Will?

If you die without a will, Michigan Law decides who will inherit the property in the estate. The law also provides who has priority to serve as personal representative. Sometimes this can cause family conflict, when a loved one is not the person to legally inherit the assets, or when the person who has priority to serve as personal representative is not the most appropriate person to serve in that role.

Does a Will Avoid the Probate Process?

By its very nature, a will requires probate. While a will is an important document to be included as part of your estate planning, it absolutely does not avoid probate. The personal representative will need to file an application to have the will admitted to probate and will need to follow the probate process as they administer the estate. If you are interested in avoiding the probate process as part of your estate planning, you should consult with an estate planning attorney.

King-Penner, Dixon and the Mannor Law Group, specialize in Estate Planning, Elder Law, Estate Administration, Probate, Life Care Planning, Medicaid, and Dementia Planning. Both are VA Accredited Attorneys as well as Certified Dementia Practitioners.

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