Probate and Trust Administration in Harlan, Iowa

When a loved one has passed away, we assist you with managing and completing the affairs of trusts and estates. In the case of a properly funded revocable living trust, a trust administration can take place without any court or judicial involvement. If an estate does not involve a revocable living trust, we will assist your family with the estate probate administration.

Probate Process

Every probate estate requires the following steps:

  • Filing a petition with the relevant county court, admitting the Will and appointing an Executor to manage the estate;
  • Providing notice to heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors of the estate, as well as to the public, at-large;
  • Drafting an inventory of the estate assets;
  • Preparing returns for estate, inheritance, or income taxes;
  • Paying debts to valid creditors;
  • Selling estate assets; and
  • Distributing assets and proceeds to estate beneficiaries.

In addition, certain non-probate assets, such as life insurance, retirement accounts, and jointly held assets will pass to designated beneficiaries. We assist families in ensuring those claims are made and properly paid.

In certain cases, for both estates and trusts, a family member or beneficiary may challenge an estate planning document or action of a fiduciary. We regularly handle contested matters of estate planning or administration.

Costs of Estate and Trust Administration

  • Court Costs: Iowa charges $50 for every $25,000 in value of an estate. This can be avoided through non-judicial trust administration.
  • Attorney Fees: Our firm bills for probate and trust administration on an hourly basis. Our lawyers charge between $200 and $250 per hour for such services. Many Iowa attorneys charge a flat 2% fee for estate administration, regardless of the complexity of estate proceedings or time required. We do not charge a 2% fee as a matter of course, as we do not believe this is a fair deal for our clients. As an example, if a person passes away owning 200 acres valued at $5,000 per acre, many other attorneys will automatically charge approximately $20,000 to handle the estate. If probate takes 25-50 hours, with billing at an average of $200 per hour, we would charge between $5,000 and $10,000, saving you and your family $10,000 to $15,000. Although we acknowledge the significance of professional fees, we seek to charge based on the value that we are providing rather than on the personal wealth that a family has accumulated.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: Other miscellaneous fees or costs may be incurred for actions such as appraisals, publication of notices, and accountings.