Losing a cherished loved one can be crushing. Yet, the law doesn’t wait while you work through your grief. When someone passes away, the next step in the legal process is probate. Probate is the review and administration of the deceased individual’s will or estate. Iowa law mandates that an estate must be closed within a certain period.
Probate can sometimes be a complicated and time-consuming process. How long do you have to file probate in Iowa? The experienced estate planning team at Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, has the answer.
What Is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process that takes place after a person’s death. During this process, the will or estate of an individual is reviewed before the court issues a final ruling on the division and distribution of the deceased individual’s assets. During probate, assets are located and assessed for their total value before taxes and other financial obligations can be settled. After meeting all legal and financial obligations, the remaining estate can be distributed to heirs or beneficiaries.
If the deceased left a will, the will should name a designated executor. An executor is a legal representative in charge of locating and overseeing assets, estimating the values of all assets, paying off taxes and outstanding debt, filing final income tax returns, and initiating the probate process. Often, a family member is named executor, but that isn’t always the case.
Without a legitimate will in place, probate can be much more complicated. A will is more than a legal document. It is a roadmap outlining a person’s final wishes. Without this roadmap, distribution of the decedent’s property occurs according to the scheme prescribed by Iowa statute.
How Long Do You Have to File Probate in Iowa?
The timeline for completing probate can vary depending on the size and complexity of a person’s estate. Iowa’s timeline for filing the will with the court gives you five years from the date of death. However, the person who has the will should file it as soon as possible. Iowa requires an attorney for all probate cases.
Iowa’s probate code stipulates that estates must be closed three years from the date of the second publication of a creditor notice. When an estate enters probate, a formal notice must be publicized and given to creditors. This notice informs creditors that a person has passed away and gives them time to file a claim for payment from the estate’s assets. Once the second publication of this notice occurs, creditors have a window of four months to file claims. If claims are not filed within the period permitted by law, they are barred. In rare cases, a judge may approve an extension of the time an estate may be open, exceeding three years.
In most cases, probate cases reach a final resolution within one year. However, complicated cases or cases involving substantial assets can take longer. If there are disputes between family members or beneficiaries, these disputes can also lengthen the amount of time it takes to resolve probate.
Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help with Probate?
Yes. An experienced estate planning attorney can help efficiently move you through the legal process of probate. Probate can be overwhelming and time-consuming. A skilled probate attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure the completion of required tasks, including:
- Preparation and filing of the petition for probate
- Preparing the required written notice to creditors
- Filing the inventory of assets with the court
- Facilitate the passing of real estate and personal property
- Addressing tax issues
- Handling the transfer of a business or business assets
Going through probate can feel like a burdensome prospect, especially immediately after losing a loved one. The legal team at Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, can help you navigate the legal system and fulfill the final wishes of your loved one.