Is Your Will Valid in Michigan?
Lifelong Michigan residents draft an estate plan, including a will, according to Michigan law to ensure that a county probate court will admit and distribute property according to the terms of the will. But what about residents who move to Michigan after executing a will? If a probate court holds a will to be invalid because it is not properly executed, then the intestate rules would apply to determine how all of the property in the probate estate is distributed.
For wills executed outside of Michigan, a Michigan probate court may accept and probate the will if the will was executed in accordance with the laws of the state or jurisdiction where the will was executed. Michigan probate courts also accept a will that is executed according to the laws of the jurisdiction where the decedent is domiciled in effect at the time when either the will is executed or at the decedent‘s death. The choices of law that a Michigan court can apply are broad and cover instances where a will is executed according to local law and then the testator (the person who makes the will) moves to a new domicile. In other cases, the testator may use an attorney from a prior residence in another state who has been the testator’s longtime estate planner and who uses wills with signature and witness requirements that differ from Michigan’s rules. Michigan drafted broader rules to avoid problems where wills failed to conform to newer standards but should otherwise be valid.
Problems may arise, however, where a testator replaces a will by using the same execution method as the old will but in a new state or jurisdiction that has stricter requirements. In these instances, a will may ultimately be held invalid or create additional expenses during probate for the will to be admitted. Further, an invalid will could be the basis for expensive probate litigation in cases of blended families or sibling rivalry. Clients should be prepared to discuss this issue with an estate planning attorney if they have an existing will or have moved after executing a will.
If you have questions about the validity of a will, give Steiger Tax Law a call a (248) 259-6367 for a free consultation.