Iowa Probate and Estate Tax Laws

Death isn't easy, but it's inevitable. Those left behind have the task of figuring out what to do with the deceased person or decedent's "estate," which may include cash, property, or other investments. Settling the decedent’s estate after they pass is referred to as estate administration and usually occurs under the supervision of a probate court. This a quick summary of Iowa probate and estate tax laws.

Iowa Probate and Estate Tax Laws

The following table outlines probate and estate tax laws in Iowa.

Code Sections

IOWA CODE § 633.1 et seq. Probate Code

Types of Estate Administration

Regular probate proceedings include uncontested and contested estates. Small estates can bypass regular probate proceedings.

Uncontested estates :

The executor files a petition for administration of an estate, notice is given to all interested parties of a hearing on the petition and a judge admits the will into probate. For estates without a will (a.k.a. the person died "intestate"), the petition must include the decedent's personal information, names of the surviving spouse and heirs, and an estimated value of the estate.

Contested estates :

After a petition for administration of an estate, an interested party can contest the probate by providing written grounds for contest. A judge hears evidence from both sides at a trial and then issues a decision to admit or refuse to admit the will into probate. Contests can be made before or after probate.

Small estates :

If the personal property of the estate is valued at $25,000 or less and there is no real property (or the real property passes to a joint tenant with right of survivorship ), then regular probate proceedings can be bypassed by affidavit from a person claiming a particular item and/or collecting on a life insurance policy.

Family Allowances

A monetary allowance to the surviving spouse (and dependents residing with the spouse) can be given for one year for necessary maintenance expenses. The court may take into account the estate's condition and surviving spouse's station in life and assets when ordering the allowance.

Allowances may also be given to dependents not residing with the surviving spouse, such as physical or mentally disabled children who are cared for in special facilities, dependent children under 18 who do not live with the surviving spouse, and dependents 18-22 years of age who are attending or will be attending an accredited school, vocational or technical training program, or college or university (as a full time student).

What Assets Go Through Probate? A person's real and personal property at the time of his or her death.
Estate or Other Taxes

The estate is subject to federal estate taxes as well as Iowa inheritance taxes unless an exemption applies.

The surviving spouse, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, great-grand-children or other lineal ascendants or descendants, charities, and religious, educational or veterans organizations are exempt from Iowa inheritance taxes.

Small estates are also exempt from Iowa inheritance taxes.

Iowa Probate and Estate Tax Laws: Related Resources

Estate decisions are complicated and going through the probate process can be difficult. If you would like legal assistance with a probate or estate tax matter, you can contact an Iowa probate and estate administration attorney. You can also visit FindLaw’s sections on Probate Basics, Estate Tax Laws, and Iowa Estate Planning Laws for more articles and information on this topic.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.