Many people think of wills as something they will do later or get around to but they don’t think about what happens if they die without a will. For residents of Iowa, dying without a will, known as intestacy, triggers a legal process where state laws dictate the distribution of your assets. This state-controlled division may not reflect your wishes, potentially leading to complications and distress for your surviving relatives.

Without a will, Iowa's intestate succession laws determine the fate of your assets. These laws prioritize immediate family members in asset allocation. If you are married and have no children, or if your children are also those of your spouse, your spouse inherits everything.

Having children from previous relationships can complicate how assets are distributed, as they may be entitled to a portion of the assets. This can lead to fighting between loved ones in an already difficult and stressful time.

What If There Is No Spouse?

Having children under the age of 18 has its special considerations. Should both parents pass away, the children inherit the entirety of the estate. The estate is managed under a Conservatorship until they reach legal adulthood at age 18. Upon reaching legal adulthood, they gain full access to their inheritance, which can be substantial.

Many parents are concerned about the ability of even the most responsible 18-year-old to manage significant assets wisely. To address these issues and ensure a more controlled distribution of your assets, drafting a will that includes a "testamentary trust" is recommended.

This allows the estate to be managed on behalf of the children while providing for their essential needs, but without giving them immediate, unfettered access to substantial funds. A testamentary trust also requires less court involvement and provides more control on behalf of the individual creating the trust as compared to a Conservatorship.

Creating a will ensures your estate is distributed according to your preferences and safeguards the interests of minor children.

Getting Your Will Ready

If you would like to get in touch you can contact Walker, Billingsley & Bair, call 641-792-3595, or use our LiveChat feature by clicking here. You can also order our FREE book What Will Happen When I Die?.

Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.