Is My Will Valid in Another State?

A question often asked by clients with a Last Will and Testament is whether or not their will is valid in another state, especially if they relocate or live in multiple states throughout the year.

This is an important question because the person’s will is activated in the state where he or she resided upon death. It is possible a will executed in another state could have a different meaning in Michigan, for example. That’s why it is advisable to have an attorney review the document to make sure it agrees with the testator’s wishes.

Unique terminology

Some states have their own unique terminology to describe people in the probate process. As an example, in Michigan, the person who oversees an estate is called a “personal representative.” In other states, he or she may be referred to as “estate administrator” or “executor.”

Michigan describes a “guardian” as someone whom the probate court appoints to manage a minor or incapacitated person. A “conservator” in Michigan is an individual who manages a minor or incapacitated person’s finances or property. In other states, those terms could have different meanings. For example, other states describe a “guardian” as someone who manages both the personal and financial affairs of another individual. A will composed in another state with this designation may result in a need for probate court to determine the conservator for the ward.

Handwritten or oral wills

Other examples include holographic (handwritten) wills, which are recognized in Michigan, but not in other states, including Florida. On the other hand, an oral will may be valid in some circumstances in other states, but not in Michigan.

Should I rely on my will that was drafted in another state?

Although out-of-state wills may be valid in Michigan, it is still smart to have an attorney licensed to practice in the state of Michigan review your will to make sure it agrees with your wishes. Some estate planning attorneys are licensed to practice in multiple states.

Help is available

The estate planning attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding wills and estate planning. For more information, call 568-726-1000 or visit our website at

Categories: Estate Planning