There are websites out there that sell supposed one-size-fits-all estate planning documents. However, each state has different rules so it is hard to imagine how you can have one document that would be applicable in all jurisdictions.
That being stated let’s look at some of the specific Iowa probate rules.
Very Small Estates
When you use a last will as your vehicle of asset transfer the estate generally must be probated, but there are some exceptions. Here in Iowa you may be able to skip probate by preparing an affidavit if the assets in question do not exceed $25,000 in value.
It is also possible for the executor or executrix of an estate here in Iowa to petition the court to allow for a simplified probate process. This is only possible if the gross value of the estate is not in excess of $100,000.
Full Probate Process
Other estates are subject to the full Iowa probate process when a last will is used to express the final wishes of the decedent.
Probate can be a time-consuming process, and the heirs won’t receive their inheritances while the estate is being probated. Challenges can be presented before the probate court, and this can slow things down even more.
There are expenses that go along probate as well, and these costs can erode the value of the estate.
It is possible to use legal devices that enable asset transfers outside of probate. One of these is the revocable living trust. If you convey assets into this type of trust you can call the shots while you’re still living as you act as trustee and beneficiary.
After your death the trustee that you name when you execute the trust agreement distributes the assets to your beneficiaries according to your written instructions.
Duffy Law Office is a member of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.