The process for making a will online has similarities in every state, but there are certain differences you need to pay attention to so that your will is valid in your state. Iowa has its own requirements for making wills, whether you make the will online or not. When you make an online will in Iowa, you want to follow the specific statutes required and you want to use an online will that is customized for Iowa.
Can I make a will online in Iowa?
Yes, you can make a will online in Iowa. To do so, use an online will making service. USLegalWills is our recommendation for to make a will online in Iowa. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy.
When you make a will online in Iowa, you have to follow the same legal requirements as any other will. The requirements for a will to be valid in Iowa are:
- The Testator (person writing the will) has to be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- The Testator has to request that two competent people act as witness to the will.
- The Testator must sign the will in front of the two witnesses, who then have to sign the will in front of the Testator and each other.
There are a few states that allow digital-only wills (meaning wills that are made, signed, and witnessed electronically without making a paper copy). However, most states still require a paper copy with physical signatures. The state of Iowa does not allow digital-only wills.
In Iowa, a will witnessed by an “interested party” (that is, a beneficiary in the will) does not invalidate the will. However, to avoid potential legal complications, it is always best that a witness is a “disinterested party.”
Does Iowa require a notarized will?
No, Iowa does not require the will to be notarized for it to be valid. Any will that is presented to the probate court undergoes a process to validate it. Having a notarized will can help the court quickly validate it, which speeds up the probate process. It is actually not the will itself that is notarized. A separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit,” gets notarized and attached to the will.
Like many other states, Iowa allows for wills to be “self-proved.” To make your will “self-proving,” you and your witnesses go to a notary public and sign a sworn statement that attests to your identities and that each of you knows you were signing the will. You attach this document to your will, making it “self-proved.”
Wills that are “self-proved” often eliminate the need for the probate court to call upon the witnesses to testify, making the process to validate the will much quicker.
Can I name an executor in Iowa?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will in Iowa—and you can also name an executor in a will you make online in Iowa. An executor is the person who handles settling the estate, ensuring the will is followed after the Testator’s death. It is a good idea to choose an executor for your estate and name them in your will. You want to pick someone you know and trust. If an executor is not named in the will, the probate court will appoint someone.
The requirements for someone to qualify to serve as an executor in Iowa are:
- Must be at least 18 years old.
- Must be of sound mind; that is, must not have been judged incapacitated by a court.
Many states disallow people with felony convictions to serve as an executor; however, Iowa has no state laws prohibiting that. But an Iowa probate court will reject a potential executor found to be a “chronic alcoholic or a spendthrift” or otherwise “unsuitable.” This would only become an issue if someone questions the qualifications of the named executor—the court will hold a formal hearing to determine who is best to serve as the executor.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, there are some specific guidelines in Iowa:
- A nonresident can only serve as the executor if you appoint an in-state co-executor, unless the court decides to permit the nonresident to serve alone.
Do I need an attorney to make a will in Iowa?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will in Iowa. With a simple estate and a straightforward will, online will making is a good option. You want to make sure you follow the state requirements for wills when making an online will in Iowa, and you want to use an online will making service with state-specific templates. If your estate is large or complex, though, you should consult an estate planning attorney.
What types of wills are valid in Iowa?
Any will that meets federal and state-specific requirements, whether made online or not, is valid in Iowa.
Can I make a holographic will in Iowa?
When someone makes a handwritten will and signs it with no other witnesses, it is known as a holographic will.
Iowa does not recognize holographic wills. However, Iowa does recognize a holographic will if it was made and executed in a jurisdiction that recognizes holographic wills.
Can I make a nuncupative or video will in Iowa?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, sometimes done on video. A nuncupative will is considered to be an emergency or last resort type of will. If the person is in peril and facing imminent death and has no written will, a nuncupative will is better than leaving no will at all. It is always best, if time and health allow, to have a written, legally binding will in place in order to avoid legal delays while the estate is being settled.
However, Iowa does not recognize nuncupative wills as a valid will.
How is a living will different from an online will in Iowa?
A living will is different from a last will and testament in that a living will contains medical directives and end-of-life care stipulations, whereas a last will and testament contains matters pertaining to settling a person’s estate. A living will, also sometimes known as an advance directive, is a legal document separate from a last will and testament. An online will is considered a last will and testament.
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. You can find a form for a living will for Iowa here.
The requirements to make a living will valid in Iowa are:
- It must be signed and dated, which must be done in front of a notary public or two adult witnesses.
- If signed by two witnesses, only one can be an immediate family member. Neither can work for your health care provider.
Why do I need to make a will online in Iowa?
If an individual dies without a will in Iowa, the intestacy laws of Iowa will determine what happens to all the property which belonged to that person. This can become a lengthy legal process as the estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws. Often, property is held up in the probate court for months or even years at a time. The state will also appoint guardians to any minor children and appoint an executor to handle settling the estate.
It is wise to make a will, especially if you have children or own property, so that your estate can be settled as quickly as possible in the manner that you wish it to be. If you make an online will in Iowa, you can control how your estate is divided.
What can I include in an online will in Iowa?
Besides naming an executor for the estate, you can include the following when you make an online will in Iowa:
- A guardian for any minor children.
- A trusted person to care for any remaining pets.
- A trusted person to oversee property left to minor children.
- Gifts or property to family or friends.
- Gifts or property to charities or organizations.
- Family heirlooms.
- Personal or sentimental items.
What should not be included in a will in Iowa?
You should not include medical directives or end-of-life care instructions. You should also not include funeral arrangements. This is because, when someone dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. Usually, it is not until after the funeral that the will is consulted. This means any medical directives, end-of-life care, or funeral instructions left in a will might not be known until after the funeral.
For any medical directives or end-of-life care instructions, you want to create a living will.
For funeral directions, you can talk to your family and make your wishes known. You can also write a separate document describing your wishes, which you should give to the executor of your estate or any other trusted persons.
Can I change or revoke an online will made in Iowa?
A will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. You can, however, change or revoke a will at any time.
In Iowa, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can physically destroy it with the intent to revoke it. This must be done in front of two witnesses.
- You can order someone else to physically destroy it in front of you, which also must be done in front of two witnesses.
- You can write a new will that states it revokes the old will. The new will must be a valid will, meaning it must meet the legal requirements for a will to be valid.
After any major life change—such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child, adoption, or acquisition of significant assets which change the distribution of property, or relocation to another state or country—it is wise to update your will. It is best to write a new will if there are significant changes. To make only minor changes to a will, you can instead add an amendment (called a codicil) with those changes. A codicil must be finalized in the same way that the original will is finalized.
How do I finalize an online will in Iowa?
To finalize an online will in Iowa, you must take these steps:
- You must print it out.
- You must sign it in front of two witnesses, who sign it in front of you and in front of each other.
To make your will “self-proving” in Iowa, you and your witnesses go to a notary public and sign a sworn statement that attests to your identities and that each of you knows you were signing the will. You attach this affidavit to the will, and now it is considered to be “self-proved.”
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Iowa:
- The state of Iowa recognizes common law marriages.
USLegalWills is a leading provider of online wills. Their service has helped millions of people create a last will and testament over the last twenty years. We like that their services are easy to understand, reasonably priced, and produce an accurate document. You can also create a Living Will and other key end-of-life documents. It’s an affordable, accessible way to create an online last will and testament now. No more procrastinating. Get started with USLegalWills and leave your estate in order for your loved ones.