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What is required for a valid will?

If you want your property to be distributed in any particular way after you die, it is essential to make a proper will. In the absence of a will, the court will distribute your property based on your state's intestacy laws, and there will be nothing your heirs can do about it, even if they know your real intentions.

All states, including Michigan, have statutes that spell out the requirements for a will to be valid. The first thing Michigan law requires is that the testator must be over 18 years of age. The next requirement is that he or she be of "sound mind." In most cases, this means that there was no legal ruling that the testator was incompetent to make decisions.

Everything must be in writing

The will must also be completely in writing; you cannot verbally change or add provisions to the will. Even if you did so in front of witnesses who will testify to that effect, if it is not written into the will, it does not legally exist. Many people find it necessary to introduce changes to the will they first made. Their wishes may change, they may acquire or lose property or some of the beneficiaries may die. It is important that any changes be made in writing; often, it is most prudent to draw up a new will.

Testator and witnesses must sign

The testator must sign the will. If he or she is not physically able to do that, another party who is not a witness to the will may sign on his or her behalf. The will must also be signed by two witnesses in front of the testator. In terms of witness qualifications, Michigan only requires that they meet the general requirements for any type of witness. A person can legally sign a will even if he or she is affected by it in some way. While the will is still valid, having an interested party as a witness may not be the best idea, as people wishing to contest the will may point to it as a sign of undue influence.

Even a will that meets all these requirements can be contested for a number of reasons. Some common claims include forgery of the entire will or some of its provisions and undue influence by a beneficiary over the testator. If you want to ensure your wishes concerning your asset distribution are respected, you should consult an experienced attorney who can give you advice that is best for your circumstances.

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