Wills are important legal documents that enable people to give effect to their wishes after they are deceased and no longer able to make those wishes known. Wills can be used to give personal property to relatives or other beneficiaries--one of the most common uses of wills--or to make charitable donations, establish guardians for minors, and other purposes. Unfortunately, there are situations when relatives believe that a will does not accurately reflect what the deceased would have wanted. In these cases, a person may choose to initiate a will contest.
Wills are an important way for people to manage their affairs after they are gone. These legal documents enable people to pass property on to beneficiaries, make charitable donations to nonprofit organizations out of their estate and avoid disputes between family members. However, in order to have a valid will and a better chance of avoiding a will contest, Michigan residents need to be sure that their will complies with the legal requirements for valid wills.
Michigan residents, like other people around the country, probably experience a range of emotions when they contemplate estate planning. Some of them probably prefer not to think about it because the thought of planning for one's death feels morbid. Others take the responsibility of estate planning very seriously, intent on leaving relatives--especially children, in many cases--an inheritance in their wills.
Michigan residents, like most people, want to be in control of their lives and what happens to them. The same holds true even in death. This is why many people write wills: to ensure that their wishes are carried out after their passing with regard to their personal property and other important issues. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which a will contest results when potential or expected heirs are not satisfied with the will's provisions or believe there may be problems with the will wording or creation.
In our most recent blog post, we discussed an issue that might be on the mind of many Michigan residents: estate planning for same-sex couples. As we discussed, a number of legal matters become complicated for long-term couples who do not have a legally recognized marriage.
Every generation has unique characteristics and values. Even though ideals might shift from generation to generation, many laws might remain static.
A will is generally viewed as a final chance for people to provide support for the people and causes they cared about while living. Significant time and attention may be dedicated to creating a robust, clear and accurate estate plan to minimize ambiguity. Leaving loose ends or room for doubt in regard to personal intentions can create complications for beneficiaries or individuals who feel they were wrongfully left out of a will.
Anyone who works in the field of estate planning would probably be able to tell our readers that the biggest hurdle for Michigan residents to overcome in the process is taking the first step. Like a major house project that has been put off for months or years, many people view estate planning as some herculean task that once begun will be more trouble than it is worth. For the vast majority of people, however, that could not be farther from the truth.
Thousands of Michigan residents probably think at least once a day: "I need a will." Many of our readers know from previous posts here that there are so many people out there who know that they need an estate plan, yet each day passes and they don't get any further along with the estate planning process. Procrastination in this area of life is somewhat understandable, since having an estate plan drafted will necessarily entail thinking about some unpleasant situations; namely, death.
Any of our Michigan readers who are familiar with previous posts here probably know by now that one of the key parts of estate planning that many experts recommend is to communicate the contents of the plan to relatives and others who may believe they will be part of the distribution of assets and property. Some people may find this hard, preferring instead to keep their wishes secret until the will is actually needed. But, of course, by that time it is too late to discuss why a planner made certain decisions, and the result may be something a solidly drafted will is designed to avoid - a will contest.