TN 16 (12-14)

GN 02315.053 Iowa Small Estates

A. Policy for payment based on affidavit

Effective July 1, 2014, Iowa law allows payment to a decedent’s successor without procuring letters of appointment (described in GN 02315.053B in this section) if three criteria are met:

  1. The gross value of the decedent’s personal property is, or has been at any time since the decedent’s death, $25,000.00 or less;

  2. There is no real property in the estate, or the real property passes to persons exempt from inheritance tax as joint tenants with full rights of survivorship; and

  3. At least 40 days have passed since the death of the decedent.

IOWA CODE § 633.356(1) (2014). Under IOWA CODE § 633.356(2), “successor” means:

  1. If the decedent died testate (with a will), the reasonably ascertainable beneficiary or beneficiaries who succeeded to the particular item of property of the decedent under the decedent’s will;

  2. If the decedent died intestate (without a will), the reasonably ascertainable person or persons who succeeded to the particular item of property of the decedent under the laws of intestate succession;

  3. If the decedent received medical assistance benefits from the state, the Iowa Medicaid agency that provided the benefits is a successor pursuant to IOWA CODE § 633.356(8), which allows the funds in the account or other property to be paid up to the amount of the claim of the department of human services if no affidavit has been presented by a “successor” as defined in IOWA CODE § 633.356(2)(a) or (b).

If the three criteria set forth above are met, a successor of the decedent may collect money or tangible personal property belonging to the estate by furnishing the holder of the decedent’s property an affidavit that contains the following:

  • the decedent’s name, Social Security number, and the date and place of the decedent’s death;

  • 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;

  • the gross value of the decedent’s personal property is, or has been at any time since the decedent’s death, $25,000.00 or less, and there is no real property or the real property passes to person exempt from inheritance taxes joint tenants with full rights of survivorship;

  • a general description of the property of the decedent that is to be paid, transferred, or delivered to or for the benefit of each successor;

  • the name, address, tax identification number and relationship to the decedent of each successor, and whether any successor is under a legal disability;

  • if applicable, the attached copy of the decedent’s will is the last will of the decedent and has been delivered to the office of a clerk of the district court in accordance with Iowa law;

  • no persons other than the successors listed in the affidavit have a right to the interest of the decedent in the described property;

  • the affiant requests that the described property be paid, delivered, or transferred to or for the benefit of each successor; and

  • the affiant affirms under penalty of perjury that the affidavit is true and correct.

If there are two or more successors, any of the successors may execute an affidavit. IOWA CODE § 633.356(3). The statute provides that receipt of an affidavit meeting the above requirements constitutes sufficient acquittance for the payment of money and discharges the holder from any further liability with respect to the money or property, and that 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. IOWA CODE § 633.356(7). This procedure may be used only if no administration of the decedent’s estate is pending. IOWA CODE § 633.356(9).

B. Policy for administration of small estates

For decedents dying after July 1, 2013, Iowa law also provides for small estate administration when the gross value of the probate assets of a decedent is less than $100,000.00 IOWA CODE § 635.1. Where there is no will, a petition for small estate administration may be made by a surviving spouse, heirs of the decedent, creditors of the decedent, or any other persons showing good grounds therefor; if there is a will, such a petition may be filed by any interested person. IOWA CODE §§ 633.227, 633.228, 633.290, 635.1. Upon petition of an authorized petitioner, the clerk shall issue letters of appointment for administration to the proposed personal representative named in the petition, if qualified to serve. IOWA CODE § 635.1. Pursuant to IOWA CODE § 635.2, the petition for the administration o