Crafting Wills in Berrien County, MI

Your will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets distributed upon death. It specifies who will inherit your property, who will be the guardian of any minor children, and even funeral arrangements.

But your will is more than just a document. It’s a critical tool that ensures your wishes are honored, and those you love are looked after. The state will decide how to divide your estate without a legally enforceable will in Michigan. A well-crafted will by a knowledgeable estate lawyer can prevent disputes and ensure your legacy. Serving Southwest Michigan, Legacy Counsel offers comprehensive and meticulous will drafting and updating services, ensuring that every aspect reflects your unique needs, family dynamics, and business interests.

Call 269-932-4017 for a Consultation.

Having a Will is Important

Creating a will is the cornerstone of many estate plans.

  • Control Asset Distribution: It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, not Michigan state laws.
  • Appoint Guardians: For those with minor children, it allows you to appoint guardians, ensuring they are cared for by someone you trust.
  • Reduce Conflict: A clear and legally valid will minimizes confusion and family disputes over your estate.
  • Allow for Flexibility: Wills can be updated as your situation changes, reflecting new assets, beneficiaries, or guardians.
  • Avoid Probate: Having a will can simplify and expedite probate, and, in many cases, our attorneys can help your family avoid probate completely via property planning and a Lady Bird Deed.
  • Have Peace of Mind: Perhaps the most significant benefit is the peace of mind that comes with knowing your affairs are in order.

Our Wills Attorneys Can Help You

  • Create a New Will
  • Update Your Existing Will
  • Choose a Personal Representative
  • Select Guardians
  • Evaluate Assets & Beneficiaries
  • Estate and Income Tax Guidance
  • Integrate Life Insurance Policies
  • Establish Trusts
  • Make Charitable Plans
  • Transfer Wealth & Gifts
  • Expedite or Avoid Probate

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Why Work with Legacy Counsel?

Our services extend beyond being lawyers who handle wills. We nurture client relationships and remain accessible. From the moment you sign your documents, we commit to being with you and your loved ones every step of the way.

Legacy Clients Benefit From

  • A Fully Custom & Valid Michigan Will
  • Clear & Upfront Pricing
  • 3 Year Reviews at No Additional Cost
  • Open & Honest Communication
  • E-Signature Capability, Virtual Consults & Expedited Services.

Contact Legal Counsel today to book a consultation. We will answer all your questions and address your concerns. Schedule a Consultation.

How to Draft a Will in Michigan

Drafting a will in Michigan is a crucial and intricate legal task that requires careful adherence to the state’s EPIC laws. Essential decisions include asset allocation, guardian selection for minors, and appointing a personal representative. Errors in these areas can lead to a will being invalidated. Consulting with a seasoned attorney is recommended to ensure your will is thorough, unambiguous, and compliant with Michigan’s legal standards.

What Makes a Will Legal in MI?

To have a valid will in Michigan, the following are required:

  • Age & Mental Capacity: You must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind.
  • Voluntary Creation: The will must be created voluntarily, without coercion.
  • Written Document: The will must be in writing.
  • Signatures: It must be signed by you and witnessed by at least two individuals.

The Steps to Creating Your Will

A legally enforceable will typically include various elements to ensure that your estate is managed and distributed according to your wishes:

  • Identify the Testator: A will starts by identifying you, the testator (the person making the will), and stating that you are of legal age and sound mind.
  • Revoke Previous Wills: If you made any prior wills, you must declare that the current will revokes and replaces them.
  • Appoint a Personal Representative: Name the person (or sometimes an institution) who will administer your estate according to the will’s instructions. This crucial role involves managing assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the estate.
  • Designate Guardians: If you have minor children, the will allows you to appoint a guardian who will take responsibility for their care in the event of your and the other parent’s death.
  • Name Your Beneficiaries: These are the people or entities (like charities) you wish to inherit your assets.
  • Instructions for Assets: These instructions outline how you want your property and assets to be distributed. This can include specific bequests (specific items or sums of money to specific individuals) and residual bequests (the remainder of your estate after specific bequests, debts, and taxes have been dealt with).
  • Special Instructions: You can include any special instructions, such as conditions on bequests or how you would like your funeral arrangements handled.
  • Signatures: For the will to be valid, it must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, who also sign it.
  • Notarization: In many cases, having the will notarized may be advisable or necessary.

A will can also include other elements depending on individual circumstances, such as trust instructions for the care of pets or the handling of digital assets. Some assets, like life insurance policies or retirement accounts, are not covered by a will if they have designated beneficiaries.

Wills vs Trusts

While both are estate planning tools, they serve different purposes. Wills take effect after death and streamline probate. Trusts can be effective during your lifetime, offering more privacy and control over when and how assets are distributed. Trusts provide greater protection for you in the event you become incapacitated and avoids probate.

Frequently Asked Questions About Wills

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Will?

While not legally required, having a lawyer write your will confirms legal compliance and addresses complex situations.

Can I Change My Will After It’s Written?

Yes. Wills can and should be updated periodically throughout your life. It is especially important to revisit your estate plan before or after major life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. If you already have a will, make sure to bring it with you when you are meeting with an attorney to use as a starting point.

What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?

When someone in Michigan dies without a will, the probate court will determine how to distribute assets in accordance with state law. Without a will, however, there may be assets that can be distributed based on beneficiary designations and pay-on-death clauses. These are assets like bank accounts, insurance policies, and retirement accounts. The forms designating who should receive the assets at the time of the account holder’s death control and will win out over state law. These forms may or may not accomplish your goals, especially if a beneficiary unexpectedly predeceases you.

Is a Will Enough for Estate Planning?

A will is fundamental but might need to be supplemented with trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives for a comprehensive estate plan.

What Mistakes Do People Make Regarding Their Will?

Common mistakes in will-making include not drafting one, failing to update it, vague beneficiary designations, improper asset listing, and neglecting legal formalities, leading to potential disputes and invalidation.

Build Your Legacy with Our Wills Attorneys

Based in St. Joseph, Legacy Counsel PLC is a boutique estate planning firm serving Southwest Michigan, including Berrien County, Cass County, Van Buren County, and more.

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Call 269-932-4017.