Wills Lawyer in Des Moines, IAA wills lawyer in Des Moines, Iowa, can help answer any questions you may have about your last will and testament – chances are, you’ve got a lot.

If you’ve already written up a will, great job: You’ve taken steps to ensure that your heirs, other family members, friends, and anyone else included in your will is taken care of after you die. A will is definite peace of mind, and to many of us who spent a bit of time planning for the inevitable, we might think that our will is the end of the line. “Probate? Never heard of it.”

But, what if you’re named in someone else’s will? Suddenly, learning about the probate process just got a lot more interesting.

An estate is someone’s last legacy, and if you’ve written up a will, you’ve made a wise choice by ensuring your legacy will live on through your loved ones. But if you’ve been named in a will, and that generous someone in your life has just passed away, it’s just the beginning of a long, complicated (and expensive) process – and you’re along for the ride.

Inside the Probate Process

Probate is – at its simplest – the process of authenticating and executing a will. It goes through a special court (probate court) and it’s how your assets are collected, divided, and distributed between your beneficiaries. However, it’s much more complex than it sounds. First, there’s the matter of authentication: a will needs to be authenticated to ensure it’s not a forgery. Simple. Next, the executor needs to be named. The executor is the person who will be in charge of your affairs after you’ve died, and if they’re named in the will already, even better. Again, simple.

Once a will is authenticated and an executor is named, your assets need to be located. (A bond can be posted as an insurance policy in case the executor makes any costly mistakes, but it’s actually optional.) The value of the assets in the will need to be determined. Creditors need to be notified, and debts need to be paid off. Taxes need to be filed, and only then can the estate be divided. Simple. Simple. Simple.

Except it’s really not as simple as it sounds. If you look back at the steps of the probate process, it might seem straightforward. But you also need to remember that probate means everyone who wants to contest the contents of a will, can. The will’s authenticity? Someone can argue that it looks fake. The executor? Someone can contest who gets to be in charge of the estate. The value of assets, the debts to be paid – everything is up for debate, and before you know it, months (or even years) have passed.

If you don’t want this to be a huge problem for your family and friends after you die, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a wills lawyer in Des Moines, IA.

What Not to Do When Writing a Will

Attempt to Write a Will Without Legal Counsel

You should never attempt to produce your will without consulting the professionals at the Law Group of Iowa. If you’re not thoroughly versed in the rules and requiments for writing a will, you may not be able to create one that is legally binding. When you’re ready to work on your will, get in touch with your wills lawyer in Des Moines, IA, first.

Only Write a Joint Will With Your Spouse

While it isn’t ideal to expect the worst, you never know when situations between you and your spouse might change. If one of you passes away before the other or you possess assets that aren’t jointly owned, issues may come up in the settling of the joint will later on. Furthermore, many states don’t actually recognize joint wills; it’s ideal to develop your own individual will with the Law Group of Iowa, and you can always include your spouse as a beneficiary.

Exclude Your Pets

Your pets are technically considered property by the state, which means they count as an asset that will need settling in the event that you pass away. Consult with your wills lawyer in Des Moines, IA, to discover the best way to include your pets on your will. Doing so gives you the chance to designate a caretaker for them, preventing them from being transferred into state custody when you’re gone. If the pet is solely yours, it should be included on your individual will, not a joint will.

Forget to Update Your Will Regularly

You may think that once you’ve written a will, you’re good to go and no further action is required. In fact, it’s important to regularly update your will, and you should have legal counsel when doing so. Nearly any wills lawyer in Des Moines, IA, will recommend that you update your will if your assets change significantly, or in the event of a birth, death or divorce. If you’re unsure when to update your will, you can always reach out to your legal team for more clarity.

Alter Your Will Outside Official Legal Situations

It’s critical that you only alter your will with help from your lawyer, so don’t attempt to change the documents in any way without legal counsel. Whether you try to make content changes or otherwise decorate or ‘dress up’ your will, you could potentially undo any legal binding it held.

Reach out to Law Group of Iowa Today

At Law Group of Iowa, we understand that the probate process can be challenging, frustrating, and bitter, and we know that having a concrete will is the best way to avoid as much trouble as possible for your beneficiaries. Many people might think that their will is final, but unless it’s been properly prepared, there’s always the potential for infighting – at a time when people should be grieving and caring for each other, no less.

Don’t leave anything up to chance. Reach out to a qualified wills lawyer in Des Moines, IA, and see how Law Group of Iowa can help you.