It is important for all Iowa adults, especially those with children or heirs, to consider what will happen to their assets when they pass away. Adults can express their wishes through a last will and testament, or some other form of estate planning. However, should a person die without leaving behind any kind of a formal document that explains their post-death desires, that person is said to die intestate. In this case, Iowa courts will determine who inherits the deceased person's assets according to intestacy law.
According to Findlaw, the intestacy laws of the resident’s state will decide how the assets and property of the deceased will be distributed. These may include real estate, securities and bank accounts owned by the person at the time of the individual’s death. In the event an Iowa resident owns property in another state, the intestacy laws of that state will govern what happens to that piece of property.
Generally, intestacy laws seek to keep assets and property in the family of the deceased. The application of these laws will vary depending on whether the deceased was married or not, or if he or she had any children. Assets of a person who was single but had children will generally be divided up equally between the offspring. In the event any child died before the parent, if the child had children, the grandchildren of the deceased will receive assets.
A person who is married but has no children can typically expect to have the whole estate go to the surviving spouse, unless the property was owned entirely by the deceased individual and was not considered marital property, in which case it may be split among the spouse and other family members. Married persons with children can expect to have their whole estates go to their widow or widower, but in the event the deceased had children with another partner, intestacy laws may grant the other children one half of the parent’s assets.
Intestacy laws may also grant few, if no rights at all, to a surviving partner who was not married to the deceased. Some couples may live together, but without an official marriage license, the two members of the pair are not considered relatives. In this case, unless the deceased drew up a will that left his or her assets to the other partner, that individual will be passed over in favor of the deceased’s blood relatives.
This article is intended to educate readers on the topic of intestacy and is not to be taken as legal advice.