Wills Articles
The use of wills in a Michigan Estate Plan

An Overview of the Use of Wills in a Michigan Estate Plan

A will is one of the cornerstones of every good estate plan.  A person who makes out a will is called a testator.  Along with its traditional role of conveying property at death, a will serves several other purposes.  For example, through a will a person can name a guardian for minor children, direct that the minimum level of probate court involvement be utilized in probating the estate, provide for who is to be considered a beneficiary of the estate in the event a potential beneficiary dies close in time to the testator, name the person who will represent the estate for probate purposes (the personal representative), and direct from what assets death taxes are to be paid.  

Wills range from fairly simple two or three page documents to far more lengthy, complicated documents.  A will can include a trust known as a “testamentary trust”.  However, given the significant advantages in utilizing non-testamentary trusts, testamentary trusts are seldom used today. 

Due to the significant probated avoidance that is obtained by using a revocable living trust, wills are seldom used as the primary vehicle used to pass assets at death. Utilizing a trust is usually determined to be the most advantageous means of passing assets at death. However, a special type of will known as a “pour-over” will is utilized.  Any assets which are not placed in the trust before death are poured-over into the trust by the will.  Hence the name “pour-over” will.  A pour-over will is used in combination with a revocable living trust to accomplish the tasks stated above, many of which can only be done by a will.


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