A holographic will is a will that is a handwritten document in the handwriting of the decedent. A decedent is a person who passed away. A holographic will is signed and dated by the decedent. Holographic wills cannot be typed or printed. In a Michigan holographic will the pertinent parts of the will must be in the handwriting of the decedent. It must also be evident that this writing intended to serve as the lawful will of the person that passed away.

The person drafting the holographic will must also have the proper capacity to write a will. Testamentary capacity means the testator must be of sound mind. The decedent must have sufficient mental capacity. There can also not be any undue influence by others in the drafting of the holographic will.

The drafter of the holographic will must understand the extent of their property and the intent to give that property away after their death. This is referred to as testamentary intent. Testamentary intention is the knowledge that the decedent knows what he is drafting at the time the Michigan holographic will is being drafted.

Talk to a Michigan estate planning attorney

It is best to talk to an experienced Michigan probate and estate planning attorney when confronted with a holographic will. A Michigan holographic will can pose many challenges during the probate process. An experienced estate planning attorney can guide you through the process of dealing with a holographic will.

Common terminology in a Michigan holographic will case

There are many common terms that are involved in reviewing a holographic will. A decedent is a person that has passed away.  A testator is a person that draws up a will. A person who writes a will is known as a testator. When the testor passes away they become the decedent.

What are the pertinent parts of a Michigan holographic will?

The pertinent part of the holographic will Michigan is first off the disposition of the decedent’s assets. This disposition of assets is the direction of who gets what for the estate of the person that passed away. The material provisions of the will must be in the handwriting of the decedent.

It can also include who will serve as the personal representative of the probate estate. The personal representative is the person who will administer the will under the supervision of the local probate court.

Do Michigan holographic wills expire?

A holographic will is a valid Michigan will.  As such it is a valid will until it is revoked or replaced by a subsequent will. 

Problems with a Michigan holographic will

One of the main issues facing the entry of a Michigan holographic will is whether or not the handwriting is actually the handwriting of the decedent.  A party can allege the holographic will is a forgery.

It can be very costly if a family member is unhappy with the holographic will. They can challenge the entry of the will and require a handwriting expert.  This can be costly and time consuming.

How is a holographic will Michigan work?

When a person passes away their property is distributed through the probate process. Usually the heirs will hire a Michigan probate attorney to “probate” the decedent’s estate.  

Michigan Intestacy Probate

There are two types of probate administration in Michigan. One if the intestacy where there is no will. Without a will the decedent’s heirs will open a probate case and the intestacy laws in Michigan will apply. 

Michigan Formal or Informal Probate

If there is a will the probate will execute or follow the decedent’s final valid will. Usually this will satisfy the normal, formal requirements in Michigan for a will. If the will does not meet these requirements but does meet the requirements of the holographic will, the holographic will can be admitted by the probate court. This holographic will and its terms will be enforced. Ultimately the probate estate will be closed upon the filing of a sworn statement.

Requirements for an estate planning will in Michigan

A will in Michigan must meet the following criteria.

  • The document must be in writing.
  • It must be signed by the person having the document written for them. This is the testator who must sign the will. 
  • The will must be signed by at least two witnesses who are present at the signing of the will by the testator.

These are the formal statutory requirements for a will to be valid in Michigan.

What are the statutory requirements for a valid will under Michigan law?

700.2502 Execution; witnessed wills; holographic wills.

Sec. 2502.

  (1) Subject to section 1202, and except as provided in subsection (2) and in sections 2503, 2506, and 2513, a will is valid only if it is all of the following:

  (a) In writing.

  (b) Signed by the testator or in the testator’s name by some other individual in the testator’s conscious presence and by the testator’s direction.

  (c) Signed by at least 2 individuals, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after he or she witnessed either the signing of the will as described in subdivision (b) or the testator’s acknowledgment of that signature or acknowledgment of the will.

  (2) A will that does not comply with subsection (1) is valid as a holographic will, whether or not witnessed, if it is dated, and if the testator’s signature and the document’s material portions are in the testator’s handwriting.

  (3) Intent that the document constitutes a testator’s will can be established by extrinsic evidence, including, for a holographic will, portions of the document that are not in the testator’s handwriting.

MCL 700.2502

A will that does not meet these requirements will not be admitted by the probate court.

The answer to is a handwritten will legal in Michigan is yes. As you saw a holographic will is valid in Michigan if it meets the requirements set forth above. A Michigan holographic will is just as enforceable as a normal will that meets the normal statutory requirements.

A will drafted in the testator’s handwriting is valid under state law. A Michigan holographic will is just as enforceable in a Michigan court as a normal will that meets the normal statutory requirements.

Do handwritten changes constitute a codicil in Michigan?

It is also possible that a decedent that has made handwritten changes to a will will have altered their will. These handwritten changes will be treated as a codicil to the will. A codicil is a change to a formal will. A codicil can be viewed as an update to an existing will. A Michigan court can view a holographic writing as a codicil to a Michigan will.

Talk to a Michigan Estate Planning Attorney today!

Although a holographic will is valid in Michigan it is not your best option.  It is better to hire a professional estate planning attorney in Michigan to draft you a formal will.  A Michigan will that is drafted by an attorney, witnessed by two witnesses and signed by the testator is a much better option.  

A Michigan estate attorney can help you draft a will that meets your needs and provides for your family. Bruce Law Firm offers free consultations with an elder law to come up with the best estate plan for your needs. If you need legal advice, call today.