For deaths of Iowa residents that occur after July 1, 2020, Iowa law now permits estates up to $200,000 in total “probate” value to use Iowa’s small estate chapter (Iowa Code chapter 635). So–as I typically ask–what does that mean?

Iowa’s small estate proceedings provide a few minor procedural differences than a “regular estate” under Iowa Code 633. Principally, the closing process is a different procedure, although most clients won’t realize the difference in procedure.

However, the main difference to clients involves court costs savings. Court costs in a small estate proceeding are significantly less than a regular estate. For example, “regular” estate court costs are approximately .2% of the size of the gross estate. Conversely, small estate court costs will typically be around $35.00. That results in an approximate savings of $365 for a $200,000 estate, or the equivalent of 60 Big Mac meals.

This also helps the situation where an individual has established a revocable trust as their estate plan structure but failed to get an asset properly titled. If the asset that wasn’t properly titled is (now) less than $200,000, the small estate proceeding can be used even if the total estate is substantially more than $200,000. Again, conversely, if you are using the regular probate proceedings and calculating court costs, the court costs would be .2% of ALL assets. So if you have a $1,750,000 estate, just the court costs to deal with a $150,000 probate asset would be approximately $3,500.00. Or 583 Big Mac meals.

Now, with typing this post, I realize I need to have a better blog post explaining revocable trusts in Iowa at Iowa Estate Plan. But, its late now so that will be another rainy day post.

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