The second 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.
In the first blog of this series, we covered the basic legal requirements under Iowa law to draft a legally sufficient will. Although each element of the Iowa Probate Code for a legally sufficient will may seem somewhat basic, probate courts and judges exist for a reason. Lets continue with the dramatic unfolding of what may happen if you disinherit a relative. If you read the previous installment, you know that in the hypothetical, you snubbed your Cousin John and gave your Cousin Mary a huge part of your estate.
Your Cousin John is upset that your will left his nothing. He decides to hire an attorney and sue your estate after your death for a share of your pretty significant and sizeable estate. Through his attorney, Cousin John challenges the validity of your will based on improper formation. Specifically, Cousin Johns claim is that you were not legally competent to create a will. In fact, he claims that you were so mentally incompetent that you didnt know you were signing a will. In fact, he claims, you thought you were signing a take-out order form from your favorite Chinese take-out delivery service! So what next?
Most likely, your attorney will need to prove that you were, in fact, legally competent and mentally able to understand that you were signing a will. Your legal defense is that you were quite aware of what you were signing and intended to disinherit Cousin John. Perhaps, you disinherited Cousin John because you were the butt of his jokes. What do you do? Thats where your two witnesses become even more important. Your witnesses will have to testify or sign written affidavits that you in fact were quite aware of what you were signing and declared your intent to sign your last will and testament in front of them.
Read the next blog for more on the dramatic unfolding of Cousin John, Cousin Mary and the basics of Iowa probate laws, including a discussion on how to avoid these types of challenges with the assistance of a probate law attorney.