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When is Probate Necessary in Iowa?

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
December 30, 2019

In this article, we answer the question, “when is probate necessary in Iowa?” Our Iowa probate attorneys will answer:

  • What is probate?
  • When is probate necessary in Iowa?
  • Is probate necessary if I have a will in Iowa?
  • What if I have no surviving family members or spouse?
  • Can a close friend or companion receive my property?

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-ordered process for transferring ownership of a decedent’s property after they die. Probate laws are created to protect the heirs’ and creditors’ rights and to ensure the proper collection, preservation, and transfer of the decedents’ property. 

Even if you do not have a will, when you die as an owner of any property, your estate usually is probated. If you do create a will, probate court will determine whether it is valid and, if so, mandate who gets what and who does not.

When is Probate Necessary?

Probate is almost always necessary in Iowa, even if you have a will. Probate ensures a decedent’s final wishes are carried out in a fair and equitable manner supervised by a court of law.

However, if an estate is not valued at more than $25,000.00, and consists mainly of personal property, Iowa may not require a probate proceeding. Instead, the estate can be transferred via affidavit. Creditor claims still must be paid, which sometimes makes probate required in smaller estates as well.

Is Probate Necessary If I Have a Will in Iowa?

If your will is not up-to-date, probate may still be needed. Have you married or divorced since it was written? Has there been a birth or death in the family? Has there been a change in the value and/or type of property you own? Has the person designated to be guardian, trustee, or executor moved to another state or passed away? 

Any of these changes should mandate a careful analysis and reconsideration with an attorney’s help of the provisions of a will as conflict will almost always deem probate necessary.

What if I Have No Surviving Family Members or Spouse?

Your estate goes to your living parents when no spouse, children, or heirs of children survive you. If your parents are no longer living, the estate is then divided equally amongst your brothers and sisters. If your siblings have also passed, then their children will inherit. If there are no nieces or nephews, then your estate goes to your grandparents. If there are no grandparents or descendants, then Iowa law will determine who will receive the inheritance.

Can a Close Friend or Companion Receive My Property in Iowa?

The simple answer is no. If you have no living familial relationships and you have not written a will, your property will go to the state of Iowa. This is why it’s crucial to always keep an updated will and make your final wishes known, especially if you have no surviving family members or spouse and want to avoid your property going to the state. 

Additional Financial Considerations
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