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What Steps Are Involved in Iowa’s Probate Process?

When a loved one dies, their assets may have to go through the probate process. This determines who will be the new owners of the properties, accounts, and anything else that they have left behind. The probate process can get complicated, especially if there was no will left behind by the deceased. A Des Moines probate lawyer can help guide you and your family through this.

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What Assets Do Not Need to Go Through a Probate Process in Iowa?

Not all assets have to go through probate because they already have some way of making it obvious who takes ownership of them when the owner passes away. Some examples of this include:

An asset in joint tenancy: To put it simply, this is a home or property where someone else lived with your loved one before their death. So if they lived with a spouse, the house is going to get passed down to them.

Accounts with beneficiaries: Some accounts, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies, have named beneficiaries. That makes it obvious who the assets should be passed down to.

Anything in a living trust: If assets have already been placed in a living trust, it is unlikely that state law will require them to go through the probate process.

When Does the Probate Process Begin?

The probate process begins when your loved one passes away and you file a petition with a probate court in their town. From there:

  • An executor or administrator of the estate is appointed
  • The decedent’s last will and testament is formally validated, if they had one
  • All beneficiaries are contacted
  • Any creditors are contacted
  • All of the decedent’s assets are taken stock of and properties are appraised if needed
  • The decedent’s last tax returns are filed
  • The assets are distributed to beneficiaries
  • A final report is submitted to the probate court

This final report must be complete and without major errors. This is another reason to have a lawyer when you go through the probate process. We can make sure that this all goes smoothly and that you do not have to worry about legal or tax troubles later on.

What Difference Does it Make if the Deceased Has a Will?

When a decedent has a will, it makes it easier to determine who gets what. When you get to the stage of distributing the assets to beneficiaries, you just follow your loved one’s wishes.

When there is no will, the state decides where assets go. In most cases, their spouse is going to get the bulk of their estate. Any living children would also be entitled to a large share of their assets.

Contact Our Estate Planning Lawyers

If you need any help navigating the probate process or dealing with conflicts, contact Herting Law, PLLC. One of our probate attorneys can answer your questions and help you deal with any complications.

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