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LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A Will is a legally binding document setting forth your wishes and instructions on how you want your property distributed after you die. Assets that pass under your Will are assets that are titled in your name alone and don’t have a beneficiary designation, aren’t jointly held with another or aren’t held in a Trust. That is why a Will is often called a “ticket to probate court.” If you have assets that pass under your Will, there will be probate administration of your estate.
If you die without a Will, the State of Michigan, by statute and through your county probate court, decides who gets your property and in what portions. These are called the laws of “Intestate Succession”. “Intestate” means dying without a Will. This may or may not be the way you would have chosen to pass on your estate. For instance, if you would like to leave everything to your spouse, you will need to say that in your Will, otherwise your spouse will receive only a portion of your probate estate and the rest will go to your children (or to your parents if you have no children).
In addition, in your Will you can name the person you want to administer your estate and designate the people you want to act as guardians and conservators to take care of your minor children. These positions are appointed by the probate court but your wishes will be taken into consideration and will have priority by the judge in making the decision.
Executor of your Will
- Is your named Personal Representative local, and if not, how difficult would it be for him or her to deal with a county probate court proceeding (i.e. Oakland, Wayne or Macomb)?
- Is your chosen Personal Representative organized and good with managing assets?
- Would your chosen Personal Representative be fair to the beneficiaries and communicate well with them?
- Do you wish to name Co-Personal Representatives to act together or one person alone?
- Do you wish to name a backup if the named Personal Representative is unable to serve?
“Karen, we really, really appreciate you! The better the planning we do, the luckier we have been, which is why I brought Aunt Betty to you 14 years ago, and we have sought your advice throughout. She is at peace knowing she doesn't need to worry about managing estate-related choices in her final days.“
“Thanks for taking such good care of us and making it easy to ask questions. I appreciate not being made to feel stupid for asking questions. It was a lovely gift at a tough time.“
Top qualities: Personable, Good Value, On Time
Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0
Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0
For information on the duties of a Personal Representative, see our Checklist for Administering an Estate.
Guardians for your Children
- Does your chosen Guardian have similar morals and views to yours regarding raising children?
- Does your chosen Guardian know your child’s needs and your goals regarding education and activities?
- Will your child need to relocate to live with the Guardian?
- If you choose a couple as Guardians, such as your sister and her husband, what are your wishes if they divorce or one passes away?
- Do you wish to name a backup if the named Guardians are unable to accept the position?
Conservators for your Children
- Is the named Conservator organized and good with managing assets?
- Is your Conservator honest and secure in their own finances, i.e. will they use your child’s funds only for your child’s interests and not their own?
- Does the Conservator know your child’s needs and your goals regarding education and activities?
- Would the Conservator work well with the Guardian to supply needed funds to them?
- Do you wish to name a backup if the named Conservator is unable to accept the position?