How Probate Laws Work in Iowa

If you lost a parent or other relative in recent days, you are likely still dealing with grief. At the same time, you may have responsibilities which relate to taking care of their home and other assets. Since some of these responsibilities have deadlines, you must deal with them in a timely manner.

Probate is a legal method of transferring ownership of a deceased person’s assets and paying their debts. Each state has its own rules on how probate should be handled, and you must be aware of this information if you are involved in handling someone’s estate.

Is Probate Required in Iowa?

In most cases, probate is required in Iowa. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as having a small estate, which is valued at less than $25,000 and only includes personal property. If the assets have a named beneficiary, you can also avoid probate. There are different types of probate with some being less complicated and designed for small estates.

How Do You Avoid Probate in Iowa?

The best way to avoid having an estate go to probate in Iowa is by planning ahead while you are still alive. A revocable living trust with a named beneficiary and which includes all the assets of the estate will allow you to avoid probate. You can also avoid probate if all the assets owned have a named beneficiary. For example, life insurance policies and retirement accounts can have a beneficiary. Bank accounts may have someone listed as payable on death. In these cases, the assets don’t need to be included in probate. 

Can an Executor of an Estate in Iowa be Compensated?

Iowa probate code does allow for the executor to receive compensation for their time and work. If the will states a compensation amount, that is considered the amount to be paid. However, the executor can refuse to accept payment if they so choose. 

How Much Does an Executor in Iowa Get Paid?

The executor may receive up to 2 percent of the estate’s value. If the situation was complex and took a great deal of time, the executor may request more than the 2 percent. If the executor didn’t do a good job of managing the estate and caused it to suffer loss, they may also receive less than the allowed compensation. 

How Long Does Probate Take in Iowa?

The timeline for probate can vary widely because of the size and complexity of the estate. Unless there are specific exceptions, the law requires it to be completed within five years of the person’s death. Many cases are resolved within a year, but others take longer if someone disputes the will. 

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Iowa?

Not all estates will need to go through probate, but most of them will follow that process. If the estate is worth less than $50,000 and doesn’t contain real estate, an affidavit is often all that is needed to transfer the property to the heirs. The heirs would need to use a short document that states they are entitled to the asset and have it signed under oath. Once this document is presented to the person or organization that has possession of the property, they would be able to take ownership. 

Iowa allows for a simplified process of probate for small estates. To qualify, the estate must be worth less than $100,000. The executor must file a request for the simplified process and provide specific information for the court to approve it. If an estate doesn’t fit the requirements for these two options, it will have to go through the full probate process, which requires the court’s oversight until it is completed. 

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Iowa?

It is necessary to file the will with the county court, allowing them to determine if it is valid. The court will decide whether to accept the will and deal with any contests made against it. If the will is self-proving, the process can be quite quick. If it must be proven, the process can end up being rather lengthy. 

Settling an Estate in Iowa

Iowa is very similar to other states in how it handles the probate process. However, timelines and some requirements may vary, which is why it is important to know the rules for this state as you proceed through the process. 

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After a Death in Iowa?

The person who has possession of the will is required by Iowa law to file the will after being informed of the person’s death. This isn’t a specific timeline, but it is expected it should happen in a timely manner.

Probate Court in Iowa

Probate in Iowa is handled by the District Court in each district. There are 14 districts in the state. You can look up information on each court on the Iowa courts website https://www.iowacourts.gov/iowa-courts/district-court/

Probate Code in Iowa

Iowa has its own laws for probate and how it should be handled. These rules are listed in the Iowa Code Chapter 633 https://www.legis.iowa.gov/law/iowaCode/sections?codeChapter=633&year=2020.

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