I always like to make sure I’m writing about things that are really relevant to the questions everyone has. Well, I recently had someone find my site by searching Google for “how do I make a will at no cost.” I figure they wouldn’t have searched for it if they didn’t have the question.
I imagine the first question is, can you create a will at no cost? Well, sure you can. There are a couple of ways the come to my mind immediately for creating a no cost Michigan will: a statutory will, and a holographic will.
Michigan has a statutory will that you can find by clicking here. The gist is that if you fill out and sign a will in exactly the form that is given in MCL 700.2519(2) and otherwise in compliance with the terms of the Michigan statutory will form, it is a valid will.
A holographic will (not to be confused with a hologram which is something entirely different) is a will that, although not valid according the standard for valid wills stated here in section (1), is still, in fact, valid. The requirements for a holographic will are found at MCL 700.2502(2). They are, generally, that the “material portions” of the will must be in the testator’s (the person whose will it is) handwriting, signed by the testator, and dated.
Now, I believe the unsaid question is, is a “no-cost will” right for your family? The answer will be different for everyone, however experience has taught me that very few families will reach their planning goals and objectives by using one of the no-cost will options. Why? Well, think of it this way. Let’s assume you don’t know much about working on your car. How well do you think the car would run if you tried to replace a cylinder, a timing belt, or – going big – the engine? How well do you think you would feel if you tried to perform your own surgery.
See, there is a vast body of knowledge on all of these topics that trained professionals have studied and practiced to be able to perform the task correctly. And estate planning is no different. It’s a large part of the reason why I believe working with an attorney who focuses solely (or at least largely) on estate planning is really the way to go. Law is a complex topic, and estate planning is a complex subtopic. Especially if you want someone who will help you plan for creating a legacy by planning for your Whole Family Wealth™ like we do.
I’m a firm believer in using professionals who are knowledgeable and focused on the tasks that I don’t focus on. That’s why I take my car to a mechanic, I have a heating and cooling person work on my heating and air conditioning, why I go to a doctor if somethings not quite right with my body, and yes, why I go to another attorney if its not an area of law I practice.
So, know that there are no-cost options out there and seriously consider whether you want your families future and your legacy to be decided by what those no-cost options provide. And if you want to talk with someone about other options, call us at 616-827-7596 or contact us here. Mention this blog post and your Peace of Mind Planning Session is free (no cost!).
Michael Lichterman is an estate planning attorney who helps families and business owners create a lasting legacy by planning for their Whole Family Wealth™. This goes beyond merely planning for finances – it’s about who your are and what’s important to you. He focuses on planning for the “experienced” generation, the “sandwich generation” (caring for parents and children), doctors/physicians, nurses, lawyers, dentists, professionals with minor children, and family owned business succession – and he is privileged to do so from a Christian perspective. He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients – many of which have become great friends.