A will is a legal document that is used by the probate court for the legal process called probate. If probate is unnecessary, then the will is not used. Having a will does not in itself mean that your estate must be probated. If probate is necessary, having a will saves time and money.

In our experience, most wills are never probated. If an estate is not probated, then there is no executor or administrator appointed by the court. When an estate is opened the court will appoint an executor or administrator. Usually the court will appoint the executor named in the will if possible.

There is an old legal adage: “Everyone should have a will.” This is as true now as it ever was. It is impossible to determine if probate will be necessary for a living person. There are numerous examples of estates with no known assets before death that may require probate.

Examples include: A person who has no assets is killed by a drunk driver. Any insurance payments to the estate for damages usually require probate. Another example might be an inheritance from a relative received after an heir has died. People frequently die with assets they either had forgotten about or thought were worthless.

Contact us to discuss ways we can save your family time and reduce stress.

Banks are useful partners in estate planning. Banks often serve as neutral third party trustees who can make decisions free from bias and outside influence. A good bank trustee is knowledgeable and efficient. With a bank, there is little worry about missing funds, improper distributions, or missed deadlines.

We recommend naming just one executor. Each executor must sign off on every action taken. This can be very cumbersome, even in situations where everyone is in agreement. The more people you name, the more people must reach a unanimous decision.

If a family is struggling or in disagreement, co-executors may make the situation more difficult. Sometimes it’s difficult for two siblings to agree. Add five who are mourning the loss of a parent and you may set the stage for long delays in the distribution of assets. Multiple executors may delay the necessary decisions and lengthen the time it takes to settle the estate.

If there is no logical family member to name as executor, we recommend naming a bank trust department.

Some things are better left to professionals. You can be your own mechanic, carpenter or repair person. But unless you have the knowledge and skills needed, doing it yourself can create additional problems. Each year, we see cases that would have been simple for a professional to avoid, but are difficult and expensive to fix.

Why take the chance of making an error that could affect your family’s inheritance and financial freedom? Contact an experienced estate planning attorney. We hope you will choose Beckman Law Offices.

Beckman Law Offices offers free simple wills for all Iowa residents on our website. You must be an Iowa resident and make an appointment to come in to sign your will. These simple wills work for most Iowans. If a simple will does not meet your needs, we will quote a price for preparing the documents before you owe us anything.