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When a person dies leaving assets that are not jointly owned with another person, it may be necessary to begin a court process whereby the court appoints a person to gather the decedent’s property, pay the debts of the decedent and distribute the remainder of the assets to the decedent’s lawful heirs. This process is called probating an estate. If the person died without a will, the person appointed is called the administrator. The administrator distributes the assets according to the laws of Iowa. If the person dies with a will, the person is called an executor. The executor would distribute the assets in accordance with the directions in the will.

Probate is a public process which allows anyone to make a claim against the estate of the decedent and allows the estate’s representative to pay the debts and taxes of the decedent. If there is a will and anyone disputes the validity of the will, it is within this process that the court would determine the validity of the will. The probate process requires that all interested persons be given notice and an opportunity to be heard regarding any issue effecting the decedent’s estate. Disputes could include, but are not limited to the validity of the will, disputes regarding distribution of property and disputes regarding claims against the estate.

In the event a person has no debts and no real estate or vehicles, there may be no need to probate.

If you have questions about probating an estate, challenging a will or making a claim against an estate, contact an attorney at the Nading Law Firm.