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What happens if you don’t have a will?

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If you don’t have a will, it can cost your family and friends a lot of time, a lot of money, and indeed lots of anxiety and even heartache.

Here are three (and ½!) reasons you need a will.

#1 Without a will, probate courts and the Iowa Legislature decide everything about your estate.

If you die without a will, you are leaving it up to the legislature/courts to decide who will receive your property. Or, even, who will get to raise your children.

#2 Without a will, you cannot choose a guardian for your children.

If you die without a will, the courts will choose guardians for your children. One of the most important aspects of a will is that it allows you to designate who will be the guardian for your children. This can ensure that your children are cared for by the person that you want, not who the court chooses for you.

#3 Without a will, the probate court will choose your estate’s executor.

If you die without a will, the probate court is forced to name an executor. The executor of your estate handles tasks like paying your creditors and distributing the rest of your assets to your heirs. Of course, if the probate court has to pick who will be your estate’s executor, there is always a possibility that you would not have approved of that person if you had been alive.

If you have a will, it will name an executor who will carry out all of your final wishes, pay your bills, and distribute your assets just as you wanted.

#3½ Without a will, you can’t give your favorite nonprofits gifts from your estate.

If you die without a will, your estate assets — your house, savings, and so on — will pass to your heirs under Iowa’s statute. If you have a will, you can include gifts to your favorite nonprofits and see that these nonprofits are helped for many years to come.

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