Perhaps the most complicated aspect of estate planning in Trenton is determining which of your heirs will inherit your assets (as well as what and how much they will receive). The last thing that you want is for your decisions to cause contentions amongst them once you are gone.
The temptation may exist to simply not create a will and leave it for them to decide how to divide up your estate. However, if you die intestate (without a will), it is not your loved ones who make this decision, but rather state law.
Michigan’s intestate succession guidelines
Per Section 700.2102 of Michigan’s Compiled Laws, your surviving spouse would inherit your entire estate if your parents have already passed and you leave behind no lineal heirs. That interest would reduce to the first $150,000 of your estate, then one-half of the remaining balance if you leave behind descendants that are also the descendants of your spouse and either of you has a descendant that is not biologically related to the other. Your spouse would also inherit the same initial interest in the estate, plus three-fourths of its remaining value if you have no descendants but your parents are still alive. If none of your descendants are biologically related to your spouse, then your spouse’s interest in the estate would be the first $100,000 plus one-half of the remaining amount.
If you have no spouse, your intestate estate would descend in the following order:
- Siblings (or their descendants)
- Paternal and maternal kindred
No allowances for non-relatives
You will notice that there are no provisions in the state’s intestate succession guidelines for anyone not directly related to you. If you want any such party to benefit from your estate, you have to state that in a will.