Tuesday, March 12, 2013

What is this "Probate Process" That You Speak of, Mr. Attorney?

A popular blog post that I had on a different site in my pre-solo days dealt with an overview of the probate process in Iowa.  As it has been a few years since that post, and I'd like to have this post under this blog "roof", I'm going to recycle it here.

The probate process in Iowa can be broken down into essentially 5 general steps:

  1. 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.
  2. Notification period - legal publication in the newspaper is arranged, heirs/beneficiaries are given notice, and creditors are given notice of probate.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
There can be detours throughout this process and some items may be more involved, but it gives a general overview of the process and the general steps involved.

What else would be helpful?  Let me know if you have any general questions that I can expound on on this blog.

2 comments:

KLWHITE said...

how long is the notification period in the state of iowa?

Matthew Gardner said...

Notification period is the later of: one month after mailing notice -or- 4 months after publication of notice in newspaper.