Iowa Last Will and Testament Law

Wills and Estates – Last Will and Testament Law – Iowa

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law of wills in Iowa, but does contain basic and other provisions.  It does not discuss hand written wills or wills where the testator cannot sign his or her name.

Execution and witnessing of wills: A will must be signed by the testator and declared by the testator to be the testator’s will, and witnessed, at the testator’s request, by two competent persons who must sign the will as witnesses in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other. 633.279

Who may witness; interested witnesses: Any person who is sixteen years of age, or older, and who is competent to be a witness generally in this state, may act as an attesting witness to a will. 633.280

No will is invalidated because attested by an interested witness; but any interested witness shall, unless the will is also attested by two competent and disinterested witnesses, forfeit so much of the provisions therein made for the interested witness as in the aggregate exceeds in value, as of the date of the decedent’s death, that which the interested witness would have received had the testator died intestate. No attesting witness is interested unless the witness is devised or bequeathed some portion of the testator’s estate. 633.281

Self-proving will: An attested will may be made self-proved at the time of its execution, or at any subsequent date, by the acknowledgment thereof by the testator and the affidavits of the witnesses, each made before a person authorized to administer oaths and take acknowledgments under the laws of this state, and evidenced by such person’s certificate, under seal, attached or annexed to the will. The will form you have located contains the self-proving affidavit. 633.279

Defect cured by codicil: If a codicil to a defectively executed will is duly executed, and such will is clearly identified in said codicil, the will and the codicil shall be considered as one instrument and the execution of both shall be deemed sufficient. 633.282

Foreign wills: A will executed outside this state, in the mode prescribed by the law, either of the place where executed or of the testator’s domicile, shall be deemed to be legally executed, and shall be of the same force and effect as if executed in the mode prescribed by the laws of this state, provided said will is in writing and subscribed by the testator. 633.283

Revocation; cancellation; revival: A will can be revoked in whole or in part only by being canceled or destroyed by the act or direction of the testator, with the intention of revoking it, or by the execution of a subsequent will. When done by cancellation, the revocation must be witnessed in the same manner as the making of a new will. No will, nor any part thereof, which shall be in any manner revoked, or which shall be or become invalid, can be revived otherwise than by a re-execution thereof, or by the execution of another will or codicil in which the revoked or invalid will, or part thereof, is incorporated by reference. 633.284

Custodian of will; filing with Court; penalties: After being informed of the death of the testator, the person having custody of the testator’s will shall deliver it to the court having jurisdiction of the testator’s estate. Every person who willfully refuses or fails to deliver a will after being ordered by the court to do so shall be guilty of contempt of court. The person shall also be liable to any person aggrieved for the damages which may be sustained by such refusal or failure. 633.285

Deposit of will with clerk: The clerk shall maintain a file for the safekeeping of wills. There shall be placed therein wills deposited with the clerk by living testators or by persons on their behalf, and wills of deceased testators not accompanied by petitions for the probate thereof, when deposited with the clerk by persons having custody thereof as provided in section 633.285 of this Code. 633.286

Manner of deposit: Every such will shall be enclosed in a sealed wrapper. The clerk shall indorse thereon the name of the testator, the name of the depositor, the date of deposit, and, if provided, the name of the person to be notified of the deposit of such will upon the death of the testator. The clerk shall hold such will until disposed of as provided in section 633.288 or 633.289. 633.287

Delivery by clerk during lifetime of testator: During the lifetime of the testator, such will shall be delivered only to the testator, or to some person authorized by the testator by an order in writing duly acknowledged. 633.288

Delivery by clerk after death of testator: After being informed of the death of a testator, the clerk shall notify the person, if any, named in the indorsement on the wrapper of said will. If no petition for the probate thereof has been filed within thirty days after the death of the testator, it shall be publicly opened, and the court shall make such orders as it deems appropriate for the disposition of said will. The clerk shall notify the executor named therein and such other persons as the court shall designate of such action. If the proper venue is in another court, the clerk, upon request, shall transmit such will to such court, but before such transmission, the clerk shall make a true copy thereof and retain the same in the clerk’s files. 633.289

Inside Iowa Last Will and Testament Law