Laura Hill

Jul 30 2018

Wealth Management Spotlight: Probate Process


The probate process in Iowa may seem difficult and confusing to understand. However, at some point in your life you will most likely be involved in an estate whether it be as Beneficiary or Executor.

Learn more about the Probate Process:

Although each estate is different, I am going to walk you through the 8 main steps of probating and estate in Iowa.

You may be asking, What is probate? Well, probate is the legal administration of an estate when someone has left a Last Will and Testament.

  • The first step in the probate process is petitioning the court. The Executor must file a petition and the original will in the county where the decedent resided at death. Once this is done, the court will issue letters of appointment naming the Executor and authorizing them to proceed with the administration of the Estate. Once the Executor receives these letters of appointment, they can proceed with the notice.
  • The Executor is required to give written notice, by mail, to all named Beneficiaries in the Will and to all known creditors. They are also required to publish notice in the local newspaper for any unknown creditors or claimants. Once the notice is complete, we can begin to gather assets.
  • The Executor is required to locate every asset the decedent owned and assign a value to it. This includes everything from your house to your bank account to your collection of Elvis Presley records. Once everything has been collected and assigned a value, an inventory has to be filed with the court. Now, once we’ve done the inventory, we can move on to general administration of the Estate.
  • Your Executor is required to tie up all of the loose ends before the Estate can close. This can include anything from paying credit cards—to applying for death benefits—to selling and appraising property and most importantly keeping all of the property safe until it can be distributed to the beneficiaries. Now we can move on to paying debts.
  • Creditors have a set window of time to file a claim for payment with the Estate. It’s the Executor’s duty to decide whether or not they’re going to approve and pay that claim or deny it and defend the Estate. The Executor is responsible for filing 3 different types of tax returns. The first one is decedent’s income tax return and the Estate’s fiduciary income tax return. The Executor is also responsible for filing the Iowa Inheritance tax return and the Federal Estate Tax return. Once the claims period is complete and the creditors can no longer file a claim the Executor can proceed with distributing the assets to the beneficiary pursuant to the terms of the last will and testament.
  • At this time the Executor is going to file an accounting and final report with the court. The final report states that the Executor has completed all of their duties required under law and they’re requesting that they be discharged as Executor of the Estate. If the court agrees with the final report, they’ll issue an order closing the Estate.

Now, as you can see, probating an estate can be a lengthy and time consuming process. This is why a corporate executor, such as Hills Bank, might be beneficial to you. If you have any questions regarding the Probate Process, leave them in the comments below or visit us at

Some trust products and IRA contributions/balances are not a deposit, not FDIC insured by any federal government agency, not guaranteed by the bank, and may go down in value.
Laura Hill

About Laura Hill

Laura Hill is a Trust and Wealth Management Officer at Hills Bank’s North Liberty location on Forevergreen Road. Laura has been at Hills Bank since January of 2017 specializing in trust and estate administration, estate planning, charitable trusts and donor advised gift funds. Laura earned her undergraduate degree at Iowa State University and continued her education at Creighton University School of Law. Prior to joining the bank, she practiced law in Buchanan County, Iowa. Laura can be reached at 1-800-899-8858.

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