It is not uncommon for an Iowa resident’s estate to go through probate after he or she passes. The probate process can take up to three years to complete, and it allows a judge to determine if a deceased individual’s will is valid. During this time, family members and other interested parties are generally able to challenge the validity of a will. Creditors can also make claims against the estate to collect any money that they are owed.

While probate can be a lengthy process, there are ways to ensure that an estate is settled in a timely manner. For instance, having a current will can minimize the chances that it is contested by a family member. It may also mean avoiding the time and expense of appointing an executor to oversee an estate when a person dies intestate. In some cases, having a comprehensive plan means some or all of the estate can avoid probate.

Assets that are jointly owned or that have a beneficiary designation attached to them usually pass without the need for probate. Filling out a payable on death (POD) form can make it easier to transfer funds from a bank or brokerage account to a beneficiary when the account owner passes. Living trusts can also be helpful to those who are looking to avoid probate.

Creating a will or trust may help an estate avoid probate, which may make it easier for assets to be transferred to beneficiaries. The use of a trust might also help to ensure that assets are used in a manner that respects a deceased person’s final wishes. An attorney may be able to help a person navigate the estate planning process and ensure that a plan meets his or her needs now and in the future.