The last installment of a three-part series, this blog will provide you with a basic understanding of the specific legal requirements to draft a valid will pursuant to Iowa law and continues with the discussion of challenging the validity of a properly drafted will.
In the first two installments of this series, we covered the basic legal requirements under Iowa law to draft a legally sufficient will. If you read the previous installments, you know that in the hypothetical, you snubbed your Cousin John and gave your Cousin Mary a huge part of your estate. Now, Cousin John challenges your mental state and files a claim in probate court for a share of your large inheritance. This is a hypothetical, right?
To put it nicely, your Cousin John and his attorney claim that you were mentally incompetent (their actual words were crazy) and lacked the mental ability to draft a will. Now, your estate must defend your will by finding your two witnesses. After all, they can attest to your mental state and provide credible testimony of your mental competence. The problem is that your witnesses are not available. Your estate finds out that one witness has passed away, while the other is in a nursing home and is suffering from Alzheimers and memory loss. What can your estate do now to preserve the integrity of your will?
The Iowa General Assembly created a perfect solution. While you are alive and draft your will, you can preserve the integrity of your will and minimize future challenges by drafting a self-proving will. Iowa law allows you to make a self-proving will to avoid these types of legal challenges. Under Iowa law, a self-proving will is a document that is presumptively legally valid without requiring your witnesses to testify as to the validity of your will.
To create a self-proving will, your witnesses and you must sign affidavits attesting to your mental state and lack of duress while you created and signed your will. By drafting a self-proving will, your attorney can help you avoid the pitfalls of relying on witnesses and their testimonies to help preserve the integrity of your properly drafted will.
Maybe Cousin John is out of luck after all!