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.

Will the Probate Court keep my Will during my lifetime?  

Yes, the Probate Court will hold your Will for safe keeping if you deposit it with the court for a $25 deposit fee.  You must be a resident of Berrien County. 

Why should I deposit my Will with the probate court?  

You should deposit your Will to prevent the loss or destruction of it. Probate is one of the first places relatives look for a Will once a loved one dies. 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 fee to deposit your Will with the Court. There is no fee to deposit a Will of a deceased person. 

Is there a fee to withdraw a Will?  

There is no fee to withdraw a Will; however, there is a $25 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 may be released to you only upon your request. Your will may only be viewed by other persons when your death certificate is presented to the Court.    

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 death, you should consult an attorney before changing your Will.  You should never try to make changes on the existing Will; this could invalidate the entire Will.

I am in possession of the original Will of someone who has passed away. What do I do?

You must deposit the Will with the Court in which the deceased resided along with a copy of the death certificate. There is no charge to deposit the Will of a deceased person.