The probate process in Iowa can be broken down into essentially 5 general steps:
- Initial opening of the estate - this is the filing of the initial paperwork to get a docket number and the formal appointment of a personal representative.
- Notification period - legal publication in the newspaper is arranged, heirs/beneficiaries are given notice, and creditors are given notice of probate.
- Report and Inventory - Within 90 days of opening the estate, the personal representative is required to file a document with the court listing the decedent's assets and their values, in addition to the information on the heirs/beneficiaries.
- Tax Filings - The other sure thing in life, besides death, is taxes and it doesn't change after death. The personal representative is obligated to complete and file the necessary income tax filings with the revenue authorities (IRS and Iowa Department of Revenue and Finance)
- Close Estate - After the end of the notification period, filing of the Report and Inventory and completion of the tax filings (assuming there are no disputes or fights with the family or creditors) the Final Report, with the proper receipts from the beneficiaries, are presented to the Court for review and approval. Court costs, attorney fees and final distributions are handled at this step.