Will an Iowa Court consider a lost will?
Iowa law does not allow courts to consider lost wills. Instead, there is a presumption that if a will is lost, it was revoked or purposely destroyed by the deceased. The assets will then be distributed through the statutory process of intestacy. With this, the property may be distributed differently than the deceased had intended.
What evidence do I need to establish a lost will?
If a will is lost in the state of Iowa, the case is litigated in probate court, otherwise known as the Surrogate Courts, where testimony is taken to prove the former existence of the will and the lack of revocation. If a copy of the will is located, it must be proved to be true and complete during testimony, and even then, the presumption of revocation exists. To overcome the presumption that the will was revoked so that it may be admitted to probate, you must provide the following evidence:
- Proof that the will actually existed and had due execution.
- Proof that the will has been lost and could not be found after a diligent search.
- Proper rebuttal against the presumption of the intentional destruction or revocation of the will by the deceased.
- Proof of the contents of the will.
To defend your case, you might use circumstantial evidence. For example, you may want to have testimony by people who witnessed the deceased handling the will, speaking about the will, or admitting that they lost the will. You may also want to present an unsigned copy of the will alongside a testimony that it is an identical version of the original will that was validly executed. In some cases, courts have considered evidence of a deceased’s declarations of the will to loved ones.
If you are dealing with a lost will, do not hesitate in reaching out to a proficient Des Moines estate planning lawyer today to assist you in managing the necessary or circumstantial evidence for your case.
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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.