What Are Michigan’s Estate Planning Laws?

Estate planning is crucial because it establishes how a person’s real estate holdings, personal belongings, and other possessions will be distributed after their demise. For example, a trust can avoid probate and can control estate distribution. Having a will without a trust will mean that your estate goes through probate.

However, an estate plan must be created according to the state’s legal provisions. Each estate planning tool is legally binding, and it determines whether your loved ones will be subjected to probate to distribute your estate. Working with skilled Bloomfield Hills business law lawyers when creating an estate plan is crucial to ensure the plan is enforceable.

Michigan Wills Law

Under Code Section MCL §§700.2501, you must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind to create a Will. The document must be signed by at least two witnesses, who must be mentally competent, in each other’s presence. The law also stipulates that a Will cannot be oral and may be handwritten, also known as holographic.

For a Will to be valid, it must be dated, and your signature must appear at the end of the document. Given these provisions, your Will could become invalid if it doesn’t meet one of them. It would help to consult estate planning lawyers in Bloomfield Hills for legal counsel to ensure you create a Will that is less likely to be invalidated by the court.

Exceptions to Estate Distribution by a Will

The law stipulates that not all property can be distributed according to a Will, with significant exceptions being the following:

  • Homestead alliance: Your surviving spouse or minor children and dependent children, in the absence of a surviving spouse, are entitled to a homestead allowance of $15,000 adjusted for inflation ($24,000 in 2024;
  • Family allowance: The amount should be determined by the personal representative of the estate and should not be more than $18,000, as adjusted for inflation, or period installments of not more than half of the amount per month for one year; and
  • Exempt property: Your surviving spouse or children are entitled to your household furniture, appliances, furnishings, automobiles, and personal effects from the estate up to a value not exceeding $10,000 as adjusted for inflation, more than the amount of any security interests to which the property is subject.

When writing a Will, evaluating how the laws will affect how your property is distributed is crucial. Wills can also face certain challenges from others, including a surviving spouse. Your lawyers can help you understand the rules that affect Wills, how to get a Will, how to change it, and more.

Michigan Durable Power of Attorney Laws

Durable Powers of Attorney

A Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters is a legal arrangement that enables you to designate another person to make financial decisions on your behalf. This lets others act on your behalf if you are unable to do so and can help prevent the costs, time and expense of a conservatorship.

A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare is a legal arrangement that enables you to designate another person to make healthcare decisions on your behalf. You may create the document in advance of any incapacitating medical condition that may leave you unable to properly communicate your medical preferences, such as whether to remain on artificial life support.

When you create a durable power of attorney for Healthcare, you can give the designated individual the power to withhold or withdraw life-saving treatment if you wish that occur if you are in that situation. The law outlines the following elements for a valid and legally binding durable power of attorney:

  • You must be 18 years or older to create the document
  • You must be of sound mind
  • You must sign it in writing
  • In the presence of two adult witnesses
  • You must execute the POA voluntarily

A durable power of attorney is an important part of your estate plan. Experienced Bloomfield Hills estate can provide legal guidance on other factors and elements to incorporate in the POA and other estate planning documents to protect your interests while ensuring the plan is enforceable.

Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is not a legal requirement in Michigan, but without a Trust or a Will, intestacy laws will kick in to determine how your estate will be distributed to your beneficiaries. Sadly, the outcome may not be as desired, and the property you have worked so hard for over the years may end up in the wrong hands.

Estate planning lawyers in Bloomfield Hills continue to explain that in addition to the benefit of direct asset distribution, an estate plan also allows you to make a charitable gift, name a legal guardian for minor children or those with special needs, or create a trust for any person, organization, or your pet.

Michigan’s Intestacy Laws

If you die intestate, the strict laws of intestacy will dictate the distribution of your estate:

  • Your surviving spouse will take over your estate unless you have descendants shared with them
  • Your surviving spouse takes the first $150,000 of the intestate property and half of the balance, while your children receive the rest.
  • Your children inherit the entire estate if you have no surviving spouse
  • Your parents could also be entitled to part of the estate if you have a surviving spouse but no children or descendants
  • Your siblings, grandparents, and other relatives will inherit your estate if you don’t have descendants, surviving spouse, or parents, depending on how close they are to you.

A Skilled Estate Planning Attorney Helping You Make Informed Estate Planning Decisions

Michigan has elaborate estate planning laws that guide you when determining how to distribute your assets after your demise. An estate plan is crucial in helping you protect your family’s needs and ensuring you can be taken care of if you become incapacitated. Bloomfield Hill estate planning lawyers can help you make estate planning decisions based on the legal provisions.

Kendal Law Group P.C. has skilled estate planning lawyers to help you prepare for the future. Whether you want to create a Will or trust, designate a guardian for your children, or create a durable power of attorney, we can help you navigate the complexities for the most favorable outcome. Call us at 248-609-1718 to book a FREE strategy session.