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A basic introduction to wills

Originally posted on 10/31/2016

A formal legal document has last will and testament written on it complete with a seal.It can be difficult to consider the end of our lives when we are in good health. However, lives can change at any moment, so it is wise to be prepared for any situation that may arise. Despite the many benefits of a last will and testament, studies have shown that the majority of Americans do not have current wills.

Having a will can ensure that your wishes regarding your property, assets, and family will be followed in the event of your death. Most people find that having a current will provides them with a sense of peace knowing they have their affairs in order. 

This article will give you a general overview of what a will is the benefits of having a will, and a start to writing your own will.

What is a Will?

A will is simply a legal document that specifies the wishes of the testator (the individual who created the will) regarding the treatment of their property in the event of their death. Wills are generally not difficult to make. Though the laws regarding wills and testaments depend on the state in which the document is drafted. The will itself may be handwritten, typed, made using computer software, or by filling out a form.

Why Have a Will?

As we go about our lives we tend to accumulate resources. These resources can come in many different forms whether it be land, homes, money, art, cars, etc. We usually care enough about these things to want them treated in a certain way.

By having a valid will you are able to specify exactly how you would like your resources treated in the event that you are no longer around to manage them. A will allows you to provide specific items to specific people, make charitable donations, and provide for your loved ones. If you have children, a will allows you to appoint legal guardians for them. It also prevents your family or relatives from having to go through the long and difficult process of managing your assets should you die without an available will.

What Do I Need to Do Before I Set Up a Will?

Before drafting a will, you will want to do some research and find out what the laws of your state require, as they vary from state to state. In general, the law requires that it be written by a testator who is a legal adult and of sound mind. The document must specify that it is the testator's will and specify the preferred method of managing property and appointing a guardian for children if the testator has them. It must also name an executor.

What Should I Include in a Will?

An executor is an individual appointed by the testator who will manage all of the logistics of executing the testator's wishes after their death. This includes filling any relevant documents and managing property and assets. An executor does not have to be a relative, but it is usually a relative or close friend who has consented to perform all of the necessary duties following the testator's death. After all of these topics have been covered in the will, it must be signed by witnesses who are both legal adults of sound mind and are not beneficiaries of the will.

Work with a Legal Professional Who Specializes in Wills

We hope this overview of wills has been helpful for you. Though a will does not have to be drafted with the assistance of a legal professional, it may be advantageous if the testator has significant properties or assets that are unconsolidated. The attorneys at Aldrich Legal Services have more than 21 years of experience helping people set up their will. Give our team a call today to set an appointment.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

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