What is a Last Will and Testament


A Iowa Last Will and Testament, when prepared and executed properly by a person who is an adult of sound mind with legal responsibility for his- or herself, is a formal document that specifies how their assets or estate will be managed and distributed after their death. The person who dies is formally referred to as the decedent. If the decedent has minor children, the Last Will and Testament may also be used to designate who they want to care for their children and who they wish to handle their childrenís inheritance/finances until each child comes of age (usually 18, but you can designate a different age) to handle their finances on their own.

In a Last Will and Testament, the decedent usually also names a personal representativeóor co-personal representatives (two or more persons acting together in this capacity)óto manage the matters of the estate. The personal representative is the person who gathers all of the information about the decedentís debts and assets, pays outstanding debts using the assets on behalf of the estate, and ensures that the decedentís property is distributed as specified in the Will, so this is a job with a lot of responsibility, and the personal representative selected is usually someone the decedent really trusts to follow through on the details and with his or her wishes.

If a person dies without having a valid Last Will and Testament (which usuallyóin most statesómeans it must be properly witnessed, as wellónot just signed), someone will usually be appointed by the court to be the personal representative and will pay the decedentís debts, liquidizing assets as necessary to do so. Then the remaining assets will be distributed among the decedentís heirs according to the laws of the state the decedent lived in.

In some states, if one spouse dies leaving behind a husband or wife, that living spouse will inherit all of the decedentís property in the absence of a Last Will and Testament stating to the contrary. In other cases, the decedent may have specified a particular beneficiary to inherit a life insurance policy, retirement account, or other asset, and that beneficiary designation will dictate who receives those assets in the absence of a Iowa Last Will and Testament.

The important thing to note is that anyone who wishes to designate how their assets will be distributed after their death should prepare and properly execute a Last Will and Testament to ensure their wishes are known and honored. If they donít, they may be leaving it up to chance, the laws of the state in which they reside at the time of their death, or a court of law as to how their final affairs will be settled.  Iowa free information on last will and testament forms.

Legal Requirements for Last Will in Iowa

If a person is concerned about oneís property after death, creating a Last Will and Testament document is considered to be an essential step. This is the document built by a sane 18 years old or older person (adult) who wants to specify the inheritance order of the personal assets. The person building the Last Will paper will be referred to as a decedent after oneís death and later in the legal document.

Absolutely every Last Will paper has to include the information about the person who will become responsible for the control over the realization of the decedentís will after oneís death. This person, a representative, often referred to as the executor as well, will have to manage resources in the appropriate way, control that all the decedentís debts are paid in accordance with the law, and that the rest of the property units are distributed between the inheritors correctly. There might be one representative mentioned in the document, or more than one ó in this case, and they will become co-representatives.

If a decedent had one child or more, the Last Will paper has to provide information about the person (or a family) who will be responsible for raising the minor kids. This guardianship has to be stated clearly and transferred to a person who is considered to be a trustworthy candidate for caring for the children.

In case if the decedent did not create a Last Will paper, the court will decide on who will become a representative (-ves). These people will automatically become responsible for the control over the decedentís debts and properties.

In the United States of America, every state has its own laws concerning the Last Will and Testament creation and verification. In many states, to make a document legal, you have to visit a lawyer and witness it properly. However, the laws of the Iowa state do not require this procedure to be performed. All you have to do is to build a document (which includes the key information about your after-death will), sign it, and find someone (adult, non-inheritor) to sign it as well (witness it).

Basically, every Last Will document has to include several significant aspects. These are:

  • Your full name

  • The information about the representative (representatives) ó the executor

  • The enumeration of your property units ó assets which later be transferred to your relatives and close friends

  • A clear and complete list of the inheritors to whom you want to give your property: family members (spouse/ children/ other relatives) and closest friends

  • The information about the guardian ó someone you can trust with your children

  • The signatures: yours and the one of the witness

After you built a document, keep it in a safe place. If you have a lot of property units, some of the potential inheritors might want to get these assets regardless of your will, so they are interested in changing/ faking your will. Despite the fact that this is against the law, and if caught, they will be judged, try to make sure nobody has early access to your Last Will and Testament document.



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