Central Iowa Probate Services

Helping you through the probate process from start to finish so you can focus on what really matters.

You Deserve an Experienced Guide During this Time.

Being an executor or personal representative is full of stressful decisions.

We can provide you with practical advice based on our decades of experience, so you can make well-informed decisions, especially where real estate is involved.

We’ll help you at every step along the way and do what we can to steer you clear of potential pitfalls.

Having us as an advisor by your side makes the task of managing probate less lonely.

Neil J. Timmins

Broker and Probate Expert



The process of selling your loved one’s home is emotional, from sifting through personal belongings to signing at the closing table.

When it’s time to sell, my team is ready to help you get the terms you and your family want and need.

While everyone has a different grief timeline, the process can be easier if you surround yourself with professionals who are empathetic and helpful.

Taking You from Clean Out to Closing

Unfortunately, many homes in probate suffer from deferred maintenance, often because the late homeowner was ill or simply could not maintain their home.

Don’t let the anxiety of cleanup and repairs overwhelm you.

My team of professionals is experienced in bringing homes to marketable condition, so you and your family can navigate the process with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate

How does the probate process work?

The process varies by state, but here is a simplified outline of the typical steps involved:

  1. The original, signed, and executed copy of the will is submitted to the local probate court or the relevant authority overseeing probates in the area.
  2. A notice of the Petition for Probate is published in a local newspaper. This publication is usually mandatory before the formal appointment or certification of the personal representative (executor or executrix) named in the will, if it exists (“testate”), or the court-appointed administrator if there is no will (“intestate”).
  3. Once the personal representative’s certification or appointment is official, they file a formal petition with the court to probate the estate.
  4. During a specified period (typically four months) from the date of public notification of the petition for probate, creditors against the estate can file their claims. This includes unpaid debts, liens, judgments, medical bills, funeral expenses, taxes, and other obligations.
  5. Simultaneously, the personal representative identifies, gathers, and secures the estate’s assets to facilitate distribution according to the will or court directives. This involves locating and accessing bank accounts, securing titles for real properties, settling remaining debts, and managing other assets for eventual disposition.
  6. It is the responsibility of the personal representative to safeguard and maintain the assets during their stewardship, including collecting any income due to the estate and maintaining proper insurance coverage.
  7. The personal representative may liquidate certain assets, such as cars or real estate, if permitted or necessary to satisfy creditors’ claims.
  8. After the formal claims period ends and all assets are collected and any necessary sales are completed, the personal representative files a final petition with the probate court. This petition includes a detailed account of expenses, receipts, disbursements, investments, and the proposed plan for asset distribution.
  9. Upon court approval of the final petition, the personal representative distributes the assets as instructed in the will, as detailed in the approved petition, or as required by law or court orders in the absence of a will.
How long does the probate process usually take?

While the probate timeline is impacted by various factors, typically it lasts around six months. However, it’s essential to understand that it often extends beyond this timeframe. Several issues can contribute to delays, including:

  1. Difficulty in locating heirs and beneficiaries.
  2. Challenges to the validity of the will by heirs or beneficiaries.
  3. Unresolved claims or liens against the estate.
  4. Inability to sell real estate or other properties.
  5. Failure to adequately notify creditors during the claim period.
  6. Dissatisfaction among heirs or beneficiaries regarding the actions of the personal representative.

Given the complexity of these factors, it’s crucial to select a competent and detail-oriented personal representative. Their ability to efficiently manage the process is vital for minimizing complications and delays.

Why is probate required?

There are several key reasons for probate, including:

  1. Facilitating the transfer of the decedent’s property and assets to their heirs or beneficiaries. Probate typically becomes necessary when there are assets to transfer; otherwise, it may not be required.
  2. Handling any outstanding taxes owed by the decedent or their estate to various taxing authorities. This includes taxes due at the time of death or those arising from property transfers.
  3. Establishing a deadline for creditors to file claims against the estate, preventing future claims by old or unpaid creditors against heirs or beneficiaries.
  4. Allowing for the proper transfer of real estate owned solely by the deceased. Without probate, obtaining clear title to the property or securing a mortgage for a new buyer would be challenging.
  5. Temporarily halting transactions involving the deceased’s property until the will is probated and a legal representative is appointed to act on behalf of the estate.
  6. Providing a legal framework for the distribution of the estate’s remaining assets to the designated heirs and beneficiaries.
How much does probate cost?

State law or practice and custom can set the cost of probate.

When you add all the costs together (appraisal costs, executor fees, court costs, insurance, legal, and accounting fees), probate can easily cost from 3% to 7% of the total estate value, and more.

If there is a “will contest” that’s a whole different story.

What happens during the probate of an uncontested will?

Usually, the individual designated as the deceased’s Personal Representative consults an attorney who specializes in probate matters. The attorney then drafts a “Petition” for the court, which, along with the Will, is submitted to the probate court.

The attorney representing the petitioner must typically notify all potential heirs if the deceased died intestate, as well as all beneficiaries named in the will, providing them an opportunity to contest the admission of the will to probate.

A probate hearing is typically scheduled several weeks to months after the filing. The timeline can vary depending on factors such as state laws, the identity of beneficiaries, the timing of the will’s execution in relation to the death, whether an attorney prepared the will, who supervised its execution, and whether certain affidavits were involved. In some cases, witnesses to the deceased’s signature on the will may need to testify.

If no objections are raised and all appears in order, the court approves the petition, appoints the Personal Representative, mandates the settlement of taxes and creditors, and requires the Personal Representative to file regular reports with the court to ensure proper accounting and distribution of the deceased’s assets in accordance with the terms of the Will.

Where is probate handled?

The court in the State and County where the deceased permanently resided at the time of his or her death is usually the court where the probate is processed.

Can I navigate probate without a lawyer?

Although there’s typically no legal mandate to hire a probate attorney, probate proceedings adhere to strict formalities. Even a minor oversight, such as omitting a detail, failing to provide a copy of the petition, or missing a deadline, can bring the entire process to a standstill or expose everyone involved to potential liabilities.

The passing of a family member or friend can sometimes exacerbate tensions among loved ones. Even within close-knit families, emotions can run high over seemingly trivial matters. These seemingly small disputes or any delays and inconveniences can cause distress, raise fairness concerns, and breed unwarranted suspicion among family members.

It’s often wise to entrust such matters to a qualified attorney.

Reach Out About Your Probate Situation

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The information on this page is delivered without warranty or guarantee of accuracy. It is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Consult with your own professional counsel, attorney, and/or personal representative.