What is "Probate"?
Probate is a term that is often mentioned but many people don't understand what it really is. Probate is the legal process where, through a court-supervised process, a deceased individual's assets are transferred to their heirs/beneficiaries; taxes are paid; and debts/claims are handled. The probate process also includes the validation of a will. It is not necessary to have the attorney who drafted the will handle the process. The "administrator" or "executor" can select whatever attorney they choose. In Iowa, the probate process primarily consists of 5 stages.
- The filing of the inital set of documents to open the estate.
- Publication of notice in a newspaper for filing of claims.
- Waiting the time period for the filing of any claims or contests to the will.
- Filing of the report and inventory and payment of taxes.
- Distribution to beneficiaries/heirs and discharge of the executor/administrator.