Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Iowa wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with the testator (or the person making the will), to create valid Iowa wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer an Iowa last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for: Iowa Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old or married.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound (capable of reasoning and making decisions) mind.
Signature: An Iowa last will and testament must be in writing and signed by the testator or by some other individual in the testator's presence and at the testator's direction.
Witnesses: Two witnesses must witness the testator's signing of an Iowa last will and testament, and sign the wills themselves.
Writing: An Iowa last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: A will may make a disposition of property to any person.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Iowa laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish.
Other Purposes of Wills:
Our Iowa wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Iowa wills form may also be used to name an executor (also called a personal representative or administrator) to handle a testator's property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Property owned in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship automatically passes onto the surviving owner.
You may not completely exclude a spouse from the will.
Spousal elective share: The surviving spouse of the testator has a right take 1/3 of the estate, limited by certain restrictions defined by Iowa laws.
Providing for Pets
Iowa laws allow for the creation of a trust for the care of your pets after your death. This trust is valid under non-charitable purposes and may continue up to 21 years in duration. Under a pour-over provision of the will (known as a testamentary addition to a trust), the testator may transfer property (pets in this case) into a trust after her death. LegalZoom's Iowa wills form allows you to provide for your pets in this way.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
An Iowa will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
An Iowa will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Iowa laws.
Revoking a Will
An Iowa will and testament can be revoked in whole or in part only by being canceled or destroyed by the act or direction of the testator, with the intention of revoking it, or by the creation of a subsequent will in accordance to Iowa laws. When done by cancellation, the revocation must be witnessed in the same manner as the making of a new will.
Probate and Estate Taxes
According to the Iowa Bar Association, probate is a formal court procedure that occurs after the death of the maker of an Iowa last will and serves the following purposes:
(1) Allows the transfer of clear title to real estate (not owned under a joint tenancy with a right of survivorship)
(2) Allows the Iowa last will to be established as official in order to dispose of your estate.
(3) Allows the estate to be distributed to your intended beneficiaries after the payment of all debts and charges against the estate, and cuts off further claims by creditors against the property distributed.
Iowa has a class-based estate tax scheme dependent on where your property is going, and also who receives the property. Any taxes owed to the state for the estate covered by the Iowa last will must be filed with the Department of Revenue and finance within 9 months of the testator's death.
It is extremely important to make an Iowa will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die without a valid will, you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Iowa laws.
For example, a spouse will receive the entire estate, limited by restrictions defined in Iowa laws, when no children or parents exist at the time of the decedent's death. When only children survive after the death, but no spouse or parents, then the children share the estate in equal amounts.
If you make an Iowa will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.