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What Should I Expect In Probate Court?

Losing a loved one is a devastating and stressful experience for a large number of reasons. It can be even more daunting if you don’t know what to expect during probate. The probate process occurs after a person’s death to validate the deceased person’s will and determine how their assets will be handled. If you are currently involved in a probate process and need to appear in probate court, you might be seeking guidance from an attorney. Continue reading or contact a Des Moines Probate Lawyer today for more information about probate laws in Iowa.

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In many cases, the probate process is required after a person dies. There are very few exceptions that allow you to avoid probate. The first exception is if the deceased person had an estate of less than $50,000 and doesn’t include real estate; normally the heirs simply need an affidavit (a short document signed under oath) to transfer the assets accordingly. You could also likely avoid probate in Iowa if the deceased person had a revocable living trust or a validated will with named beneficiaries. Even life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and bank accounts may allow you to list a beneficiary in the event of death. The best way to avoid probate for your loved ones in the future is by planning ahead and managing your assets accordingly while you’re still alive.


If probate court is required after the death of a loved one, there’s a chance it could be a lengthy process depending on the circumstances. According to Iowa law, the person who has possession of the will (usually the executor) needs to file the will after learning about the person’s death. The first step of probate is filing a petition with the court, which normally includes submitting the death certificate and other documents, like a will or estate planning records. Then, the court will review the deceased person’s Last Will Testament to ensure it was created legally according to Iowan laws. If the will is valid, then the named executor will be responsible for handling the deceased person’s assets according to the will. In cases with no valid will, the court will need to decide who is next of kin.

The executor must inform relatives, friends, creditors, and others of the person’s death, and they must also take inventory of the deceased person’s assets. The executor is responsible for paying off any withstanding debts first and then distributing the rest of the assets to any named beneficiaries. After fulfilling all their responsibilities, the deceased person’s estate can be closed. When there isn’t a will, the court will provide instructions to the executor on how the assets will be handled, which normally means a much longer probate process.

For quality legal counseling through the probate process, you can count on Herting Law PLLC. Contact our law offices today to learn how a probate attorney can help you!

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