The best evidence of a person's intent is what they tell someone their intent is and better yet, if it is put in writing.
In probate proceedings, courts rely on the terms of a valid Last Will and Testament.
When you put your final wishes into a legally valid will, it is an authoritative source of evidence which is called “testamentary intent”.
Three handwritten documents were found in Aretha Franklin's home after she died. These writings give contradictory instructions. Under Michigan law, a handwritten will without witnesses and notary may be admitted to the probate court as a valid will, but it must be signed and dated. Unfortunately, Aretha Franklin did not spend a few hundred dollars to have an attorney draft her will and now it is costing tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to determine her testamentary intent.
If you do not have a valid will at death, the Michigan intestacy laws will dictate who gets what and when they get it. Also, the person you want to be in charge of your estate may not be able to be in charge. Without a legally valid will, the court will decide who will act as the personal representative of your estate.
You must have a Last Will and Testament if:
- If you want to ensure that your property and assets end up with the people you choose; and
- If you want to ensure that the person you want in charge of your estate will in fact have authority to be in charge of your estate.
Your estate planning attorney will prepare your Last Will and Testament to demonstrate your testamentary intent and ensure that you have control over the distribution of your estate.