Sunday, February 12, 2012

Time Period to Administer a Probate Estate in Iowa

Iowa law limits the time period in which to administer an estate of an Iowa decedent.  Iowa Code section 633.331.  If an estate is not opened up within 5 years after death of the decedent, it will not be able to opened up.  Iowa currently does not recognize any exception to this rule.

What does that mean? If there is a will and you wait more than 5 years after death before doing anything, you've waiting too long.  Good luck on the headaches of transferring any assets at that point.

This doesn't mean that you always have to probate an estate, but if there are any possible assets that may need to be distributed, don't wait.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

how long typically does an estate have to be completed.

Matthew Gardner said...

On my average, it is typically about a year. Sometimes longer, occasionally shorter. The assets and family issues affect the length.

Anonymous said...

Matt,
My sister and I co-executors of my fathers estate. My sister is named as having fiscal responsibility so both his daughters did not have to sign checks.He had real estate (owned by his dummy incorporation). My sister is refusing to open probate and me and the other heirs have been trying very hard to communicate with her and we are getting no where. What are our options?

Matthew Gardner said...

Under Iowa law, you can force an individual to file the will (if she has it). Otherwise, you can proceed to probate without her cooperation. Even if you open an estate intestate (no will), it can be converted later on to testate (with a will). Getting the issue before a court helps with getting communication, although it can be bad communication.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! The lawyer already has the original copy of the will. I will speak with him and see how proceed.

Anonymous said...

My non-resident deceased spouse and I own a $28000 house jointly with his brother and wife, in Iowa. Probate opened in Idaho, ancillary just opened in Iowa as we have an accepted offer on the house. I am the personal rep. How long can I expect this process to take?
Thank you.
Mary

Matthew Gardner said...

Ancillary probate time is typically the same, if not longer, than regular probate. Thus, a year could be average time before completion.

Anonymous said...

Matt,

The executor of my mother-in-law's estate was a friend of hers. She owned property abroad, and left a will detailing the disposition of her assets. Though the transfer of this property (to us) has not yet been completed (it is the final item), the executor and his lawyer have closed the estate. The last action taken on transferring the property was to send documents to an attorney in the foreign country, but no follow-up has been done, and no acknowledgement/response from that attorney has been received. How can it be that the estate was allowed to be officially closed with this distribution outstanding? What options do we have to resolve this? I appreciate your time and attention.

Matthew Gardner said...

If the disposition of the Iowa assets has been resolved, the Iowa estate can be closed. The Iowa attorneys do not have the ability to handle transactions abroad. Those would need to be handled by that counsel. While I may have handled it differently, your next step would be to engage the services of foreign counsel to deal with that property. The Iowa job was completed, and the baton was tossed to the next attorney.

Anonymous said...

If it is not the Iowa executor's responsibility to see all property transfers through to the end, then who is responsible? The foreign attorney who was contacted is under no obligation, and could certainly leave this matter unresolved with no penalty to him. The property is not yet in our names, and I am under the impression that we therefore cannot contact anyone about it officially.

Matthew Gardner said...

The Iowa executor would not have authority over the out of state property until they are appointed as executor in that country, or whatever process is necessary. If they refuse to do anything further, you could seek legal counsel in that country about having someone else appointed as executor (yourself) to handle that property as the prior executor is refusing to act apparently.

Lyndsey Jo said...

My father just passed away, leaving no will, only a house (almost paid off) & a bank account w/safe deposit box. My question is how long does the probate period take? His heirs are my 2 younger brothers & myself (oldest). Also the house/estate is worth over 100k I'm wondering if the attorney gets 6% of the estate if its paid?

Matthew Gardner said...

Lyndsey Jo-

Probate can take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months (or longer), but on average around a year. The fees should not be greater than 2% of the estate.