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What are the witness requirements for a valid Michigan will?

On Behalf of | Mar 21, 2024 | Wills

The decision to create an estate plan is a smart and responsible one. Adults in West Michigan have several different options available when they want to establish a legacy and protect their loved ones.

Some people create trusts, but many adults use a will as their primary or only estate planning document. Some people have inaccurate ideas about what a will requires. There are those who assume they need to have a notary witness the signing of a will for it to hold up in Michigan probate court. There are others who assume that a will that they downloaded off of the internet and filled out at home is all they actually require.

Michigan has probate statutes imposing specific requirements for those drafting testamentary documents. Does Michigan have witness requirements for those drafting wills?

Witnesses play a crucial estate planning role

Technically, any adult over the age of 18 and of sound mind can potentially draft legally-binding estate planning paperwork. However, there may eventually be questions about whether or not someone was of sound mind or possibly in a state of duress because of the coercion of others when they signed documents.

Therefore, Michigan requires witnesses for wills to protect testators and their close family members. Witnesses may later need to give statements about someone’s mental state at the time of the document signing. They could help affirm or disprove claims about a lack of testamentary capacity or the potential undue influence of an outside party.

What does Michigan law require?

In Michigan, a will is valid if the testator meets all state requirements and the document complies with state law. The applicable laws include a statute requiring witnesses. Two adult Witnesses are the minimum for a valid will.

Generally speaking, it is often preferable to use witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the estate. Additionally, the state recommends a third witness if at all possible. Adults who are younger are often a good option to serve as witnesses. They are more likely than older individuals to outlive the testator and to maintain their own testamentary capacity when their testimony might be necessary later.

Many people may have a hard time making sense of Michigan’s requirements for wills and could very well benefit from cooperating with a professional. Having support when drafting a will and otherwise planning an estate can make a major difference for someone with valuable property or vulnerable family members.