no need to leave your home to receive legal consultations and services - Call or click to learn more about phone and videoconferencing with our attorneys

The Iowa Probate Process Explained

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 10, 2019

In this article, we explain the Iowa probate process by answering the following questions:

  • What is probate?
  • What is the purpose of probate in Iowa?
  • Are all assets subject to probate in Iowa?
  • Do I need an attorney for a probate case in Iowa?
  • When is probate necessary in Iowa?
  • The probate process in Iowa

What is probate?

Probate is the official manner in which an estate is settled under supervision of the court. When a person dies without an established will, an executor is appointed (typically a surviving spouse or adult child of the deceased) to gather and value owned assets, settle remaining debts, and distribute assets to heirs.

What is the purpose of probate in Iowa?

Probate prevents fraud and theft after a death. Without it, debts could go unpaid and assets could be improperly distributed.

Are all assets subject to probate in Iowa?

No, not all assets are subject to probate. Some are automatically transferred, even without being specified in a will. These include:


  • Any asset owned in joint tenancy — These assets automatically transfer to the joint tenant. This is also known as right of survivorship. An example would be a home.
  • Tenancy by the entirety — Similar to joint tenancy, tenancy by the entirety signals a survivor to own all property upon death. This is only available to married couples.
  • Beneficiary designations – These include retirement accounts and life insurance policies with named beneficiaries. Bank and brokerage accounts can also have designated beneficiaries.
  • Living trust – Anything in a living trust won’t go through probate (unless assets outside of the trust add up to more than Iowa’s small estate limit).

When is probate necessary in Iowa?

Iowa estates that exceed the small estate’s threshold, have no will, or have a will but no living trust will require probate before the estate can be transferred to beneficiaries.

Do I need an attorney for a probate case in Iowa?

Yes, Iowa requires attorneys in all probate cases.

The probate process in Iowa

Every case of probate is unique but there is a general procedure that most follow. Settling an estate via probate in Iowa may include the following steps.

  1. If the deceased had a will, it is filed in the District Court in the county of residence.
  2. A Petition for Probate is filed to request an executor appointment. When there is no will to determine an executor, the court will appoint someone. As required by law, notice must be given to all beneficiaries of an appointed executor.
  3. Once filed, a notice announcing the Petition for Probate is published in a newspaper where the deceased resided. The purpose of the publishing is to notify creditors, who then have four months to make a claim against the estate.
  4. Letters Testamentary are issued to the executor, granting them legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
  5. An inventory of all assets is filed with the court.
  6. After all debts have been settled, a Petition to close probate is filed.

After a court-issued order, property is distributed to beneficiaries.


Additional Financial Considerations
from Financial Experts

From Financial Experts

For many years, financial institutions have been creating a disservice to clients and the industry as a whole for years.
View More Professional Considerations

Presented By O'Flaherty Law

What is probate?

Need Legal Help? 

Schedule a
Consultation

What to Expect From a Consultation

The purpose of a free consultation is to determine whether our firm is a good fit for your legal needs. Although we often discuss expected results and costs, our attorneys do not give legal advice unless and until you choose to retain us. Although most consultations are complimentary, some may carry a charge depending on the type of matter and meeting location.

Leave a Comment With Your Questions

Read more about

Probate & Estate Administration

We offer free, paid & Online CONSULTATION in:

Probate & Estate Administration

Schedule a consultation with our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys

We offer free, paid & online consultation in nearly every area of law throughout Illinois and Iowa. We have a range of options to assist you with your legal needs.

What happens at a legal consultation?
Meet with an attorney for a free consultation to discuss what type of matter you need to discuss with an attorney.
Over the Phone Legal Consultations
Similar to In-person consultations, you discuss your legal needs with our attorneys to discuss your matter.
An online consultation is like an in-person and an over the phone online Consultation. You meet face to face with our attorneys through our online portal.
Paid Legal Consultations
While a free consultation allows us to discuss what we can do in general terms for your legal matter, a paid consultation allows us to answer direct questions.
contact us

Monday to Friday
9am - 5pm

Contact Us
Disclaimer: Our articles and comment responses do not constitute legal advice and are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship.

Please contact us to schedule a free consultation for legal advice specific to your situation.

Here are some articles that may interest you
Schedule a
Consultation

Contact us for a Free Consultation

Schedule a free consultation

O'Flaherty Law is happy to meet with you by phone or at our office locations in:

Who We Are
We are your community law firm. Our Illinois & Iowa Attorneys are committed to providing exceptional client service in a cost-effective manner in the areas of Family Law, Probate, Estate Planning, Civil Litigation, Guardianship, Criminal Defense, Corporate & Contract Law, Bankruptcy and Real Estate.

Some of Our Accomplishments

Best Child Support Lawyers in Chicago
DuPage County Probate Attorney
Kevin P. O'Flaherty
Rated by Super Lawyers


loading ...
Naperville attorney
DuPage County Probate Attorney

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required