Estate Attorney recs needed (in IOWA)

HI BPNs! I am in quick need of an attorney who specializes in Estate/Probate and (here is the kicker) who is licensed in the state of Iowa. I find myself in a situation that I never ever thought I would be in, which is having to challenge my aunt and uncle's handling of my grandparent's estate, while they were alive. My Dad died when I was a kid and as a result became one of the beneficiaries of the estate. In recent months, I have found evidence that money was spent outside of the care of my grandparents - and not just a couple thousands, like tens of thousands (it could be as much as 200-300k+). I am totally sick about it and haven't slept in weeks. I want to know what my legal standing is in this situation - if I even have one. If anyone has ever had to go through this, I would really like to hear about how you handled it and how you got to the other side - both legally and emotionally. My relationship with my uncle is practically non-existent and the relationship I have with my aunt has always been a bit strained. Regardless, and maybe it was my own naivete, I still didn't think this was ever in the cards. And yes, because of the inherent dysfunction that exists in our family culture, if I pursue I will most likely be cut-out. I feel like its an impossible dilemma. My relationships with my cousins are the challenge. While my aunt and uncle have, in my mind, stolen money from their dead brother - my cousins didn't and I will most likely lose them. And yet, that money could afford my daughter an education that I would feel so grateful to give her (and my grandma so proud). If something were to ever befall myself or my family, the debt incurred would maybe not ruin us? Maybe I don't have to be old AND poor? These are the things I think about. I know, if a family is toxic, blah blah... and I've spent years in therapy to heal from the toxic. But it is still my family and the only extended family I have left, so there is a lot of grief there. And yet, the alternative, to ignore what has happened and to move forward without asking the question of where the money went, feels like throwing the years of learning how to live an authentic and truthful life out the window. I feel very alone in this, even though I know I am not the first (or last) to ever go through this, so if anyone has any hope or words of wisdom, they would be appreciated! And a name of a licensed estate attorney in Iowa would be great, too! ;)

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I can't refer you to an attorney and I don't know what your rights are.   I can only tell you anecdotally what I have seen.

There's what is fair, and then there's the law.  In my experience, money, estates, and relatives are a toxic mix.  The power is with the executors and you will have to raise heaven and hell to get a financial audit, and then to pursue a civil case.  If your aunt/uncle spent a lot of that money, there may not be much left that isn't in their names.

If it is justice you're after, you can see about criminal prosecution for financial elder abuse.  You might start with contacting local agencies in Iowa (like adult protective services?), the local district attorney's office, etc., possibly an elder abuse unit of the police.  You need some idea about what constitute financial abuse/theft, etc. in Iowa, and also local attitudes towards financial elder abuse.  Perhaps Nolo books can refer you to some legal resources as well.  If what happened was egregious, it's possible one of the governmental agencies will pursue criminal charges.  That doesn't put any money in your pocket, but it won't cost you much, either. 

I have several friends who have been involved in monetary disputes with family members.  Emotionally, it never ends well.  I think it very unlikely that your cousins will react well to you pursuing a case against their parents, unless they might benefit financially as well. 

Also, from what you have written, I gather that you were here in California while your aunt and uncle were doing the actual heavy lifting of looking after your grandparents--however well or poorly.  Whatever actually happened, a lot of people will think this is just you both complaining about how someone else handled a difficult job, and trying to make a money grab.  I am not saying that's the case, but in a situation like this, appearances matter. 

My personal, non-legal advice? 

--See if you can find out more (without attorneys) about the law and what actually happened to the money just to set your mind at ease.  If it's egregious, see if a local law enforcement agency wants to pursue/investigate. Deal with your bitterness and accept the facts, whatever they are. 

--Remember that in cases like this, it's usually the attorneys who win.  They have every incentive to tell you what a great case you have and feed your anger.  And drag it out while racking up a bill. There goes not only what you might have inherited, but any money you have right now!  Unless they take it on a contingency basis, this is a very costly crap shoot. 

--Unless you have a rock-solid case, the energy and money you could devote to this case would be better spent on investing, and maybe taking on a little extra work to improve your financial situation.

--And get some friends.  Relatives living remotely in Iowa who are kind of toxic but all you have -- they won't do you much good and are a fairly unstable source of emotional support. 

My 2 cents.  Good luck!

I consulted Gregory L. Kenyon in DesMoines, Iowa when I had to manage my father's affairs at the end of his life about 10 years ago.  Kenyon then handled executing his will and probate after my dad's death. You could contact him for a consultation or referral:  kenyon.gregory [at] bradshawlaw.com  515 246-5829