Handling a probate matter in Iowa can be intimidating. There are lots of logistical hoops to jump through and the courts are involved. Technically, probate refers to the court proceeding during which your will is validated after you die. We also use the term, probate, to refer to the settlement of your estate.
What else happens during an Iowa probate?
- The executor (aka personal representative) petitions the court to open the estate. The court grants letters of testamentary to your executor, granting him authority to act on your behalf to settle your estate.
- If you die without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to carry out executor duties. The court issues letters of administration to grant authority.
- The executor gathers, protects, appraises, and manages assets. He advertises a Notice to Creditors and a Notice of Administration is sent to all interested parties (i.e. beneficiaries.) Creditors then have 90 days to make a claim on the estate.
The executor pays bills, files and pays taxes, and communicates with professional advisors such as the probate attorney and CPA as well as with the beneficiaries. When all tax returns have been accepted (not just filed), the executor distributes any remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
When all estate business has been completed, the executor files a petition for discharge and, when granted, the estate is closed. Probate is then over.
What does the probate attorney do?
A probate attorney guides the executor and heirs through the probate process. He provides guidance on all matters of the estate such as validating the will, petitioning the court, tax returns, dealing with creditors, appraising and managing real property and personal assets, dealing with beneficiaries, paying last bills, and working with the CPA and financial advisor.
How long does probate take?
Typically, probate takes 4 months to several years. The complexity of the estate and the level of cooperation of the parties involved determine the time it takes.