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The Iowa Supreme Court recently dealt with the question of a “pre-mortem” will contest.  Will contests are typically filed after the person (testator) has died.  For example, typical will challenges are based on lack of testamentary capacity or undue influence, or both.  However, in the Kiene v. Wash. State Bank opinion from February 19, 2021, the Iowa court ruled that the validity of a Will cannot be determined during the life of the testator.  Basically,…
When I’m discussing the probate process with a client, the discussion will get to a point where we talk about how the process may take a year or so before it is completed. And then I get the question: You mean I can’t sell the house for a year?!? Not exactly. Potentially as soon as we have a personal representative appointed by the court we are able to sell the real estate and other property.…
That’s a common question I get.  Here’s the example:  we are handling the probate estate for a deceased individual and we are discussing the assets: house, bank account, CD, car, etc.  Then we also inquire about retirement accounts (IRA or 401(k) for example) and the client will state “oh, they had beneficiaries listed so they are outside probate”.  And then that leads to my somewhat confusing answer:  Sort of. What I mean is this: The…
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…
Following a ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court issued June 12, 2020 in the Estate of Youngblut, cheated heirs now need to be aware of some very short deadlines to bring a claim. BE AWARE. Will Contests Generally If someone wants to contest a will, there are two main grounds to do so: (1) lack of capacity or (2) undue influence.  Such claims must be brought at the later of: (a) four months after…
Another common question we hear is concern about “inheriting” the debt of a deceased individual.  That doesn’t happen in the probate process, but a broader explanation is necessary. Probate involves dealing with assets AND debts.  For example, notice is given to all creditors, potential creditors, and unknown creditors.  The creditors can then file a claim in the probate proceedings.  After the prescribed time has elapsed after giving the required notices, any potential claims that are…
If all of your assets have a joint owner and/or a beneficiary listed, your estate may not need to go through the court-supervised probate process.  But before you rush out to make those changes on your accounts, here are some things to think about joint accounts: The other joint owner can withdraw the entire account out of the bank. Creditors of the joint owner can zap the account and clean it all out.  Think judgments,…