The coronavirus crisis is motivating more people than ever to write or update their wills. As people and families hurry to update their wills, they often feel tempted to rely on tools, templates, and information they find on the internet.

Unfortunately, relying on internet (mis)information when updating your will can lead to mistakes, headaches, and additional expenses down the road. Updating your will with an attorney is the most affordable and practical option when you need to protect your loved ones and your vision for your estate.

In this blog article, we’ll review how to update your will and discuss common mistakes and misconceptions to avoid in the process.

Common Mistakes When Updating Your Will

Thinking about what will happen after you die can be uncomfortable. However, creating a will and estate plan can help put your mind at ease by giving you a degree of control over what happens.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of incomplete and even wrong information out there about how to create a will. Relying on this information can undermine your will and leave your wishes up for debate.

Here are some common misconceptions and myths that too many people rely on when updating their will.

Myth: Any Written Document or Amendment Will Do When Updating Your Will

Not just any document “counts” as a legal amendment to your will. So, merely typing up a few small requests and including it with your will won’t create a legally binding update.

Making a change to your will requires you to create a codicil, which is a legally recognized update to your existing document. A lawyer can guide you through the process of creating a codicil. If you want substantial changes, you may want to consider creating a new will altogether to avoid confusion.

Myth: Courts Will Automatically Account for Life Changes When Interpreting Your Will

If you buy a house or a car, have a child who will need a guardian, or even adopt a pet you want someone to care for, you need to mention these developments specifically in your will. If you have new personal property you want to pass on to someone else, you can create a personal property memorandum that outlines what should happen to your belongings. But for more significant life changes, it’s always in your best interest to consult an attorney who can help you ensure your final wishes for your children, assets, and even pets are carried out.

Myth: If You Don’t Have a Will, Your Spouse Automatically Gets Everything

One of the biggest myths about inheritance laws in Michigan is that your spouse will automatically inherit everything upon your passing. What and how your spouse inherits depends on several factors, including whether you have children, whether there are some pieces of property that one of you owns independently, and whether your will states otherwise.

Without stating your preferences outright in a detailed will, the state may distribute important assets according to intestate succession laws, and the state may do so in a way that goes against your wishes.

Myth: An Online Template Is Fine for Updating Your Will

Online templates might seem like a way to save time and money when you want to outline your last wishes in a hurry. Unfortunately, they often contain omissions and errors that could cost your loved ones time and money down the road.

For example, many will templates only offer limited options from a drop-down menu, which means they aren’t fully customizable. These types of wills are not the intuitive, personal solution many people need. When you need to make sure your loved ones are properly protected and provided for, your best option is to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer.

How to Update Your Will in Michigan

To update your will, you’ll need a comprehensive list of new assets and changes you want included in your will. The required items usually include:

  • A list of the significant and valuable assets you want included, including houses and real estate
  • A list of people you want included in the will
  • The name of the person you want to serve as the personal representative (executor) of your estate
  • Name of a person or people who will serve as the guardian of your children
  • Name of a person or people who will manage your children’s property until they turn 18

Once you have the necessary information, you’ll need to make an appointment with an attorney to implement these changes. Your attorney may implement the changes by creating a codicil amendment or by drawing up a new will altogether based on what’s best for you.

RELATED: Michigan Estate Planning Basics: Everything You Need to Know

Need to Create or Update Your Will in Michigan? The Law Office of Kari Santana Can Help

At the Law Office of Kari Santana, we’ve been helping West Michigan residents protect what matters most for over 10 years. If you have questions about how to make your last wishes legally binding, what information you need to update your will, and which legal solutions are right for you, give us a call. We can meet with you remotely to make sure you have the right legal solution that will give you peace of mind.

To get started today with your free initial consultation, call us at (616) 717-5759 or fill out our quick and easy consultation form below.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.