A Estate Planning & Probate Area


This is the term for the legal court-officiated process in which a person's Will is proved. Specifically, this process entails the settling of final debts of the testator, and in addition involves the bequeathing of the decedent's assets to the listed beneficiaries.

The process is started in the county of the decedent's legal residence at the time of death. A named Executor must come forward with the original Will on behalf of the decedent. In order for an Executor to carry out the wishes of the decedent, they must first file a Petition for Probate of a Will and Appointment of Executor in the county discussed above. Once the Petition has been successfully filed, the Court will appoint the Executor, enter and Order Admitting the Will into Probate and issue Letters of Appointment of the Executor. There are statutorily enforced deadlines and waiting periods between filings of the required documents. There are steps that the Executor must take in order to be able to distribute the assets of the Estate. Those items are best discussed with an attorney.

There are 3 main steps to the Probate process:

  1. Collection, inventory and appraisal of all assets that are subject to Probate;
  2. Paying the bills, taxes, estate expenses, and creditors of the Decedent; and
  3. Formal transfer of estate property according to the Will or by the State Laws of Iowa regarding intestate succession (if there is no Will).

Where Do My Assets Go If The Unexpected Happens?

IF YOU DIE WITHOUT A WILL your property will pass intestate, which means your property will pass down according to Iowa's laws.

Some things to consider regarding having your property distributed intestate (without a will):

  • The law does not recognize step-children as children if you die without a will, therefore, if you have step-children and want them to receive a portion or your estate… You Need A Will.
  • If you die without a will your children will receive equal shares of your estate. If you want to give more to one child for additional schooling etc… You Need A Will.
  • If you want or do not want your spouse to receive all of your property… You Need A Will.
  • If you die without a will all of your property will pass to family. If you want to donate anything from your estate… You Need A Will.
  • If you die without a will the law divides your property in shares. If you would like to leave a certain item to a certain individual… You Need A Will.
  • Some people want to leave money for grandchildren or other later generation family members. If you die without a will these members will not receive your property, unless their parents or earlier linear family members are also deceased. Therefore if you want to give a specific person money maybe even for a specific reason… You Need A Will.

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