Every family’s situation may differ, but it is always best to have a will or a plan in place so that your financial and personal wishes are conducted according to your specific wishes upon your death.
In Iowa, if you pass away without a will, your property is always distributed according to the state’s “intestacy” laws. Commonly, Iowa’s intestacy law will award your property to your relatives, beginning with your spouse and your children.
If you have no spouse or children, your surviving parents or relatives may receive your property and assets. This often results in long, argumentative, and stressful legal maneuverings and may not be what you wish for.
So, if you die without a will, many specific rules will dictate how your money, property, or possessions will be allocated, all dictated by Iowa’s probate laws.
To avoid all or most of this costly and time-consuming legal process, it’s always wise to have a Cedar Rapids estate law firm draft a “last will.” Your will acts as a document that expresses your specific wishes regarding the distribution of your property and is the least any family should do so that your last wishes are conducted.
Some “estates” are indeed more extensive and more complex than others. Still, your experienced estate planning lawyer will provide you with any options (such as a trust) if it is advisable.
Many families feel that their holdings are too small to require a will or a trust, but they almost always are wrong. If you own a home, property, a business, have bank accounts, a 401K, or anything of any value, by drafting even a simple will, you will have saved your family stress, discomfort, and money by drafting even a simple will. You will ensure your pre-planned directives for their distribution are made clear.
You also should be made aware that in Iowa, the legal rules are specific. If you die without a will, the Iowa code even dictates that your surviving spouse has an exclusive right for 20 days to file a petition with the court to initiate the estate’s administration. All your other living heirs, starting with surviving children, have an additional ten days to file such a petition.
This process is costly, leaves a lot up to the state, fracturing your family, and is usually not what you would want.
What Are Some Things That May Happen If I Die Without a Will?
Dying without a will can be costly, confusing and cause undue stress on your family during an already dire time in their lives.
When you die without a will, you have died “intestate,” which means that Iowa’s intestacy laws will have full authority and decide how your property, bank accounts, real estate, securities, and other assets will be divided. Also, if you own any real estate (or assets) in another state than where you resided, those assets will be managed according to that specific state’s intestacy laws. This will lead to even more confusion and expense.
The laws of intestacy succession also differ depending on whether you were single, married, or had children, or not.
In most cases, where you do not have a will, your estate will be divided between your heirs, which can be their surviving spouse, uncle, aunt, parents, nieces, nephews, and even distant relatives.
Worst of all, If you have no surviving relatives to claim their share in your assets, your entire estate goes to the state.
All these vague and possibly unwanted situations can be successfully avoided by consulting with an empathetic Cedar Rapids will’s lawyer, who will draft a will to ensure that your last wishes are carried out.
What May Happen If I’m In a Domestic Partnership and Die Without a Will?
In our world today, there are many types of intimate relationships, and Iowa’s (and most states’) intestacy laws may not recognize them.
Most states do not recognize “domestic partnerships.” So, if you’ve spent years in a meaningful domestic partnership without a will, the state will decide how the property will be divided. Unfortunately, your partner may have nothing to say. This is something you would not wish for and can be averted by drafting a simple will.
These associations may also include or be labeled as “live-in-relationships.” So, even if you’ve been living with a partner for years, but without marrying them then when you die, your surviving partner won’t inherit the property as Iowa’s intestacy laws only recognize relatives.
If I Am Single, Is a Will Still Advisable?
The simple legal answer is, yes, it is.
If you die single and childless, any surviving parents will usually receive your estate and assets. If you have no surviving parents, any assets will usually be divided among siblings (which may include half-siblings) in equal parts.
If one of your parents dies, then your property will be divided between siblings and the surviving parent.
Suppose a single person dies without creating a will and has no surviving parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings. In that case, the property will be divided equally among relatives on the father’s and mother’s side.
So, you see that this becomes legally confusing, can cause massive disagreement among your family members, and would assuredly not be something you would want. Simply getting the guidance and professional advice of a Cedar Rapids will’s law firm will avoid all the unpleasantness and inequality of what may occur after you have gone.
I Feel That I Do Need a Will; How Should I Proceed?
Even if you are young and feel that a will is not needed yet, unfortunately, none of us know what tomorrow may bring in today’s world.
By making your final wishes known now, your unforeseen accident or illness can be planned for with clarity and forethought. By addressing a will directly, you will undoubtedly ease the burdens on your family when you die and ensure your specific wishes are conducted exactly as you want them to be.
Consulting with a professional, empathetic Cedar Rapids estate planning law team is your mandatory first step in knowing exactly what will work for your situation. Your estate planning law team will also fully educate and guide you on what’s legally needed (a Will, a Trust, or more) to ensure your directives are followed in the best conceivable way.