State of Iowas Probate property qeustion – Please help!

UPDATED: May 30, 2009

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State of Iowas Probate property qeustion – Please help!

My Dad passed away without a will and owned a home solely in his name. My Stepmom has opened probate and wants to place it in her name only and continue living there until she sells it. She says she will then put the home in her own will and my brother and I will have to “wait our turn for it or any proceedsfrom it till she dies.” Can she do this?

Asked on May 30, 2009 under Estate Planning, Iowa


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

That depends.  I'm not an Iowa lawyer, but my research suggests that if there's more than $50,000 in the estate, including equity in the house and any personal property, she has to share.  That, in turn, gives you some rights.

Exactly what you should do depends on all of the facts, and you need to review the situation with your own attorney, as soon as possible.  One place to find a lawyer is our website,

Between you and your brother, on the one side, and your stepmom on the other, to simplify what the law looks like on the internet, she gets half or $50,000, whichever is greater.  That doesn't mean she gets to take the house as her own, unless there's at least that much value in other property that could be distributed to you.  As the personal representative of the estate, she has to follow that law, not her own best interests, and if she tries to do anything else, you should be able to go to court to stop her.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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