Michigan law sets up rules for distribution of your property if you die without a valid Will. These rules are called “intestate succession”. The way your property is distributed under intestate succession depends on which of your relatives survive you and how large your estate is. The process of overseeing the distribution of your property is administered through the probate court (generally called probate). If you want a different distribution of your property from Michigan’s intestate succession distribution, you will need a Will.
By leaving a Will, you exercise your right under the law to determine who receives what share of your assets. A will also allows you to name the person who will be in charge of administering your estate. In Michigan this person is called the Personal Representative and is considered a fiduciary, i.e. one who serves in a position of trust. Other names for a Personal Representative, used in the past or in other states include Executor or Executrix, and Administrator. The Personal Representative must act in the best interest of the estate and is subject to the control of the Judge of Probate. A Personal Representative has no power to act until the death of the person who made the Will.
Anyone aged 18 or over who owns assets, e.g. a car, cash in a checking or savings account, or an interest in a home, should have a Will. Real property is land and everything that is permanently attached to it; personal property is everything else. If you own both, or either, you should have a Will. You may not think your estate is that big, but whatever its size you want it to be used in the best way possible to take care of your family and the people you care most about.