Probate is the court-supervised process of distributing assets and settling debts of a person after their death. The process of probate changes based on a number of variables. Some estates will follow the wishes of the deceased if they created a will that is accepted by the probate court. When there is no will to follow, the probate court will likely distribute assets according to the Rules of Inheritance in the Iowa Probate Code.

There are many steps to the probate process and a probate attorney can assist in making sure that the steps are successfully completed. 

In order to begin the probate process, a petition will need to be filed in the probate court. In Iowa, this court will typically be in the county where the deceased person lived at the time of their death. 

Once the probate estate is opened with the court, a personal representative or executor will be appointed. If there is a valid will, the will typically names who the deceased wishes to serve as the executor. The probate court will make the final decision on the validity of the will and whether the proposed executor is able to serve.  

The next step in the process involves notification of creditors of the deceased that the estate is open. Creditors have time limits to make a claim against the estate. 

The executor or personal representative is required to file an inventory with the probate court that lists all of the assets of the deceased person. For much of the property on the inventory, an appraisal may be necessary to accurately describe the value. 

In addition to filings required by the probate court, estates must also file tax returns for the deceased person, and possibly for the estate itself. 

Once the debts of the deceased have been resolved, the assets of the deceased may be distributed according to the instructions of the will or the Iowa Rules of Inheritance. 

A final report is filed with the probate court that describes all of the actions taken by the executor or personal representative. After all of the steps in the probate process are completed, the court will close the estate. 

An Iowa probate attorney can help make sure that the probate process is successfully completed and in compliance with Iowa’s Probate Code.