replied 3 years ago.
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Good afternoon. Since the value of all these assets if under $25,000, you can avoid probate and get access to these assets and to transfer title by using a Small Estate Affidavit. The process for completing this Affidavit and its authority is set forth in the following Iowa probate code provision. You need not go through the courts in this situation.
633.356 DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY BY AFFIDAVIT.
1. When the gross value of the decedent's personal property does
not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars and there is no real property
or the real property passes to persons exempt from inheritance tax
pursuant to section 450.9 as joint tenants with right of
survivorship, and if forty days have elapsed since the death of the
decedent, the successor of the decedent as defined in subsection 2
may, by filing an affidavit prepared pursuant to subsection 3 or 8,
and without procuring letters of appointment, do any of the following
with respect to one or more particular items of personal property:
a. Receive any particular item of property that is tangible
personal property of the decedent.
b. Have any particular item of property that is evidence of a
debt, obligation, interest, right, security, or chose in action
belonging to the decedent transferred.
c. Collect the proceeds from any life insurance policy or any
other item of property for which a beneficiary has not been
2. "Successor of the decedent" means:
a. If the decedent died testate, the beneficiary or
beneficiaries who succeeded to the particular item of property of the
decedent under the decedent's will. For the purposes of this
subsection the trustee of a trust created during the decedent's
lifetime is a beneficiary under the decedent's will if the trust
succeeds to the particular item of property under the decedent's
b. If the decedent died intestate, the person or persons who
succeeded to the particular item of property of the decedent under
the laws of intestate succession of this state.
3. To collect money, receive tangible personal property, or have
evidences of intangible personal property transferred under this
chapter, the successor of the decedent shall furnish to the holder of
the decedent's property an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating
all of the following:
a. The decedent's name, social security number, and the date
and place of the decedent's death.
b. That at least forty days have elapsed since the death of
the decedent, as shown by an attached certified copy of the death
certificate of the decedent.
c. That the gross value of the decedent's personal property
does not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars and there is no real
property or the real property passes to persons exempt from
inheritance tax pursuant to section 450.9 as joint tenants with right
d. A description of the property of the decedent that is to
be paid, transferred, or delivered to the successor.
e. The name, address, and social security number of the
successor of the decedent to the described property, and whether the
successor is under a legal disability.
f. If applicable, that attached copy of the decedent's will
is the last will of the decedent and has been admitted to probate or
otherwise filed in the office of a clerk of the district court.
g. That no persons other than those listed in the affidavit
have a right to the interest of the decedent in the described
h. That the affiant requests that the described property be
paid, delivered, or transferred to the successors of the decedent to
the described property.
i. That the affiant affirms under penalty of perjury that the
affidavit is true and correct.
More than one person may execute an affidavit under this
4. If the decedent had evidence of ownership of the property
described in the affidavit and the holder of the property would have
the right to require presentation of the evidence of ownership before
the duty of the holder to pay, deliver, or transfer the property to
the decedent would have arisen, the evidence of the ownership, if
available, shall be presented with the affidavit to the holder of the
If the evidence of ownership is not presented to the holder of the
property, the holder may require, as a condition for the payment,
delivery, or transfer of the property, that the successor provide the
holder with a bond in a reasonable amount determined by the holder to
be sufficient to indemnify the holder against all liability, claims,
demands, loss, damages, costs, and expenses that the holder may incur
or suffer by reason of the payment, delivery, or transfer of the
property. This subsection does not preclude the holder and the
successor from dispensing with the requirement that a bond be
provided, and instead entering into an agreement satisfactory to the
holder concerning the duty of the successor to indemnify the holder.
Judgments rendered by any court in this state and mortgages
belonging to a decedent whose personal property is being distributed
pursuant to this section may, without prior order of court, be
released, discharged, or assigned, in whole or in part, as to any
particular property, and deeds may be executed in performance of real
estate contracts entered into by the decedent, where an affidavit
made pursuant to subsection 3 or 8 is filed in the office of the
county recorder of the county wherein any judgment, mortgage, or real
estate contract appears of record.
5. Reasonable proof of the identity of each successor of the
decedent seeking distribution by virtue of the affidavit shall be
provided to the satisfaction of the holder of the decedent's
6. If the requirements of this section are satisfied:
a. The property described in the affidavit shall be paid,
delivered, or transferred to the successor of the decedent's interest
in the property.
b. A transfer agent of a security described in the affidavit
shall change registered ownership on the books of the corporation
from the decedent to the person listed on the affidavit as the
successor of the decedent's interest.
If the holder of the decedent's property refuses to pay, deliver,
or transfer any property or evidence thereof to the successor of the
decedent within a reasonable time, the successor may recover the
property or compel its payment, delivery, or transfer in an action
brought for that purpose against the holder of the property. If an
action is brought against the holder under this subsection, the court
shall award attorney's fees to the person bringing the action if the
court finds that the holder of the decedent's property acted
unreasonably in refusing to pay, deliver, or transfer the property to
the person as required by this subsection.
7. If the requirements of this section are satisfied, receipt by
the holder of the decedent's property of the affidavit under
subsection 3 or 8 constitutes sufficient acquittance for the payment
of money, delivery of property, or transferring the registered
ownership of property pursuant to this chapter and discharges the
holder from any further liability with respect to the money or
property. The holder may rely in good faith on the statements in the
affidavit and has no duty to inquire into the truth of any statement
in the affidavit.
If the requirements of this section are satisfied, the holder is
not liable for any debt owed by the decedent by reason of paying
money, delivering property, or transferring registered ownership of
property pursuant to this chapter.
8. a. When a deceased distributee is entitled to money or
property claimed in an affidavit presented under this section with
respect to a deceased person whose estate is being administered in
this state, the personal representative of the person whose estate is
being administered shall present the affidavit to the court in which
the estate is being administered. The court shall direct the
personal representative to pay the money or deliver the property to
the person identified by the affidavit as the successor of the
deceased distributee to the extent that the court determines that the
deceased distributee was entitled to the money or property under the
will or the laws of intestate succession.
b. When the department of human services is entitled to money
or property of a decedent pursuant to section 249A.5, subsection 2,
and no affidavit has been presented by a successor of the decedent as
defined in subsection 2, within ninety days of the date of the
decedent's death, the funds in the account or other property, up to
the amount of the claim of the department, shall be paid to the
department upon presentation by the department or an entity
designated by the department of an affidavit to the holder of the
decedent's property. Such affidavit shall include the information
specified in subsection 3, except that the department may submit
proof of payment of funeral expenses as verification of the
decedent's death instead of a certified copy of the decedent's death
certificate. The amount of the department's claim shall also be
included in the affidavit, which shall entitle the department to
receive the funds as a successor of the decedent. The department
shall issue a refund within sixty days to any claimant with a
superior priority pursuant to section 633.425, if notice of such
claim is given to the department, or to the entity designated by the
department to receive notice, within one year of the department's
receipt of funds. This paragraph shall apply to funds or property of
the decedent transferred to the custody of the treasurer of state as
unclaimed property pursuant to chapter 556.
9. The procedure provided by this section may be used only if no
administration of the decedent's estate is pending.
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