In my opinion, everyone needs a will. It doesn’t matter if you have many assets or very few. A common misconception is that wills are for rich people. That is simply not true.
There are many reasons to have a will. One of the biggest reasons is to make sure that your assets go to the people you want them to go to. Without a will, your assets will spend more time in the probate courts and the courts will decide where your things will go.
The good news is that the court can’t do whatever they want with your assets. Michigan has set rules for how assets are distributed when there is no will. The rules that govern where your assets go are called the Estate and Protected Individuals Code or EPIC for short. Here is the link for EPIC: https://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/mcl/pdf/mcl-Act-386-of-1998.pdf. As you can see there are many rules and it can get complicated quickly.
A reason why you don’t want your assets tied up in probate without a will is that it will cost a lot of money. Here there will be administrative costs, attorney fees, among other expenses. It also matters where the will is probated because Washtenaw County is different than Wayne, Livingston, or even Jackson County. If you have a clear will, you can minimize how much time and cost it will take to get through probate.
If you have a smaller estate, there is a good chance that you will require a less complicated will. Simple wills can be inexpensive. If you have significant assets, then it would be a good idea to explore trusts in addition to wills. Some trusts help you avoid probate altogether while being more private, and minimizing taxes and expenses.
If you need want to discuss your options, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a complementary consultation. I regularly help people with their estate planning needs in Ann Arbor, Saline, Ypsilanti, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Manchester, Brighton, Howell, Fowlerville, Plymouth, Northville, and around the Washtenaw, Wayne, Jackson, and Livingston Counties.