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Recent Changes to Iowa Probate & Estate Law 2020

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
January 15, 2020

In this article, we answer questions about recent changes made to Iowa probate and estate law. Our Iowa probate attorneys will address:

  • What is probate in Iowa?
  • Changes to the Iowa Small Estate Statute
  • Changes to Iowa Probate Fees
  • Changes to Guardian or Conservator requests in Iowa

What Is Probate in Iowa?

Probate is a formal court proceeding for distributing a decedent’s estate. Probate is often needed to settle claims of creditors and resolve disputes between heirs if there is no will. 

In Iowa, there have been recent important changes to the probate code. Should you suddenly find yourself in the middle of a probate case in Iowa, understanding the following changes will be quite helpful.

Changes to the Iowa Small Estate Statute

Iowa Code Chapter 365 is the new Small Estate Statute. This recently passed legislation significantly changes the Chapter so that it applies to more of the population and hopefully simplifies the process. It goes into effect July 1, 2020 for those decedents passing on or after this date.

The statute in effect currently, applies to an estate if the probate assets are valued at $100,000.00 or less. The major change in the new legislation is the gross value of an estate’s probate assets is increased to $200,000.00 or less.

Changes to Iowa Probate Fees

Iowa legislators recently passed Senate File 604, a bill focused on probate court charges for probate actions. The Bill provides that the clerk of court shall charge fees at a rate of 0.2%. This charge is based on the listed probate assets in the inventory report only for services performed in a decedent’s estate administered by Iowa Code Chapters 633 or 635.

Most importantly, the Bill excludes all non-probate assets from the assessment of costs. The clerk shall charge and collect court costs for other services performed in a conservatorship, based on the gross value of the assets listed in the inventory minus the value of the life insurance. Senate File 604 takes effect January 1, 2020.

The Bill pertains also to court-administered trusts, conservatorships, guardianships, and estates of decedents for which the petition is filed on and after January 1, 2020. It is assumed this law will reduce the overall estate value subject to fees by an average of 50.0%.

Changes to Guardian or Conservator Requests in Iowa

In August 2017, the Iowa Guardianship and Conservatorship Reform Task Force published a report on elder abuse with proposed changes to the law. The recommendations were taken into consideration, resulting in House File 610 adopting the proposed changes. 610 was signed into law May 1, 2019 and is to become effective January 1, 2020.

The new law mandates new requirements requiring professional evaluation of the proposed protected person and background checks for proposed Conservators.  The Conservator is also required to file an initial plan with the court within ninety days after appointment and is also required to file an inventory of assets within ninety days after appointment.

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Probate Laws in Iowa 2020

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