Who can contest a will in Iowa?
Only an interested party may contest a will in the Hawkeye State. By definition, an interested party stands to lose or gain property, assets or something of value should a will be carried out as written. More likely than not, this definition would grant the following parties the right to contest a will:
- Current or former spouses
Nonetheless, non-familial parties can qualify as interested parties, which would include creditors.
If you qualify for contesting a will, you must cite and prove one of several legal grounds. Two of the most commonly-cited include:
What is undue influence in will contests?
If an interested party suspects a relative, friend or even a healthcare provider influenced a testator into changing the terms of his or her will, the interested party may contest on the grounds of undue influence.
What is lack of capacity in will contests?
If an interested party suspects a testator did have the mental capacity to execute a valid will, the interested party may contest the document and terms. For a will to be legally valid in Iowa, a testator needs to:
- Know they are making a will
- Understand the type and value of their property
- Identify their natural heirs
- Understand how they want to distribute their property
Old age, memory problems and diagnoses like dementia or Alzheimer’s do not automatically establish a lack of testamentary. Instead, the interested party must prove it without a doubt in court.
What is the process for contesting a will in Iowa?
When an interested party wishes to contest a will in the Hawkeye State, they must first file a complaint with the probate court. The executor of the estate in question will be notified and they will have the opportunity to defend the will in question in a trial. After hearing both sides of the contest, a probate judge will deliver his or her verdict.
If the probate judge finds the will valid, the executor will distribute the assets in accordance with its terms. But if the probate judge finds part or all of a will invalid, the state will distribute the entire estate of the decedent, or the affected portion, under intestate law. In other words, winning a contested will trial does not guarantee an interested party property or inheritance.
If you have any further questions or would like to commence the process, please reach out to a skilled Des Moines estate planning lawyer as soon as possible.
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Herting Law, PLLC, is an Iowa-based law firm designed to help with all of your legal needs. Contact Herting Law, PLLC today for help.