Wills

YOUR WILL

Do I need a will?
If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestate succession.  This may or may not be how you wish your assets to be distributed.  Because everyone has unique circumstances, seeking an attorney's advice is recommended.

How does a Will become operative?
A Will becomes operative when it is admitted by the court in a probate proceeding after the testator's death. Note that while a person may be nominated in a Will, they do not become the personal representative until appointed as such by the Court.

Will the Probate Court keep my Will during my lifetime?
Yes, the Probate Court will hold your Will for safekeeping if you deposit it with the court for a $25.00 deposit fee.  You must be a resident of Lenawee County.  Instructions for doing so are here.

Why should I deposit my Will with the Probate Court?
You may deposit your Will to prevent the loss or destruction of it.  It is also one of the first places relatives look for a Will once a loved one dies.  However, it is not a requirement that it be filed with the court.  Upon the testator's death, whoever is holding the Will must deposit it with the court to avoid a fine or contempt charge.

Is there a fee to deposit a Will?
There is a $25.00 fee to deposit your Will with the court.  There is no fee to deposit the Will of a deceased individual.

Is there a fee to withdraw a Will?
There is no fee to withdraw a Will; however, there is a $25.00 fee to re-deposit the Will.

If I deposit my Will with the court, can anyone look at it?
No, a Will on deposit is strictly confidential.  The court will not reveal the contents, nor will the court reveal if there is a Will on file. Your Will can only be released to you on your request. Other persons may view your Will only when your death certificate is presented to the court.

Can I pull my Will, make a copy and re-deposit it?
Yes, you may withdraw your Will at any time; however, there is a $25.00 fee to re-deposit it.

Can I make changes to my Will?
Yes. You can revoke your previous Will with another Will, or you can supplement your existing Will by means of a codicil.  However, to ensure that your intentions are clear so that they will be carried out after your death, you should consult an attorney before changing your Will.  You should never try to make changes on an existing Will; this could invalidate the entire Will.

SOMEONE ELSE'S WILL

What if I cannot find my relative's Will?
If you have the relative's death certificate, you may inquire with the court as to whether the decedent deposited the Will with the court.

Can I check to see if someone has a Will?
Whether or not a Will is on deposit with the Probate Court is confidential information. The court will only check for a Will upon death of the testator when provided with verification of death.

If I present the court with a copy of my relative's death certificate, may I obtain a copy of his/her Will?
Yes. Upon proper verification of death, you may obtain a copy of the Will, if the court is in possession of one.  There is a $10.00 charge for the first page and $1.00 for each additional page for a certified copy.