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Estate Planning West Des Moines

Guardianships and Conservatorships

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I have written previously in this Blog regarding the use of Medical Power of Attorneys and Financial Power of Attorneys. One of the benefits of the Health and Financial Powers is that in many cases they can be used to avoid setting up a formal Guardianship and Conservatorship with the Court. The Guardian makes medical and social decisions for the Ward and also decides on where the Ward will reside. The Conservator handles the Ward’s property and finances. Either an individual or a bank may act as a Guardian or Conservator. Guardians and Conservators are required to file annual reports

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Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

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On April 20, 2017, Governor Branstad signed the Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act which is codified in Chapter 638 of the Iowa Code.  The Act broadly defines “digital asset” to mean any electronic record in which an individual has a right or interest.  However, the term “digital asset” does not include an underlying asset or liability unless the asset or liability is itself an electronic record and the term “digital asset” does not include health information or individually identifiable health information as those terms are defined in the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. 

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Administration of Small Estates

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Chapter 635 of the Iowa Code sets forth a provision dealing with the administration of small estates.  In order to qualify for a small estate, the gross value of the probate assets of a decedent must not exceed $100,000.00.  Probate assets do not include life insurance proceeds and retirement plan benefits if such items pass by designation of beneficiary form.  The provisions for fees for the personal representative and the attorney for the estate are different from the regular probate provisions set out in Chapter 633 of Iowa Code.  Under the small estate statute, the fees for the personal representative

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Facts About Organ Donation

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My blog articles for the past two months have dealt with Power of Attorneys for Health Care Decisions and Living Wills.  Both documents contain a paragraph dealing with organ donation.  If you check yes, you are indicating that in the event medical professionals determine that you are an organ donor, you agree to the use of life-sustaining procedures, including a ventilator for the sole purpose and time period required to complete the organ donation.   It is my experience that many clients who come to my office to discuss estate planning have not considered the option of becoming an organ

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Benefits of Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions

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Last month I discussed in detail Living Will documents which are used to insure the rights and desires of terminally ill or comatose individuals are honored.  This month I will focus on Powers of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and how they work with Living Wills.  If a person is unable to make health care decisions and does not have a Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions, it is necessary to file a Petition for Appointment of Guardian with the Iowa District Court to appoint a Guardian to make health care decisions and decisions as to where the individual

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What is a Revocable Living Trust?

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This month I want to introduce you to the Revocable Living Trust which is also known as a Revocable Trust, Living Trust, or Inter Vivos Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is a document which is used to manage one’s property during life and to distribute one’s property at the time of death. The person who creates the Trust is referred to as the trustor, grantor or settlor. The person who holds the property and who is in charge of the management of the Trust is the trustee. The individuals and entities which receive distributions from the Trust are the beneficiaries.

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Skepticism as a Useful Tool

legal sceptic evaluation

I am not suggesting that one must be a skeptic but rather that constructive doubt is useful in my profession.  I need to have an understanding of the differences among (1) what I think, (2) what I believe, and (3) what I know. With regard to thinking, it involves the development of a process by which I gather information.  It is being open-minded, being non-judgmental and does not evaluate the information or documentation assembled. With regard to what I believe, it involves looking at the information and the documentation assembled and sorting through the information and documentation to analyze which

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Options for Distribution of Personal Property

distribution of personal property

A question that always comes up when I meet with new Will clients is how to handle distribution of one’s personal property. One option is to direct your executor to divide your personal property equally among a group of individuals.  The Will can provide that the executor makes the decision as to what property goes to what individual or can provide that the individuals decide among themselves as to what property goes to what individual.  Both options can cause problems. If a child is also acting as executor, the decisions made by said child on how to distribute personal property

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Don’t Hide The Important Documents From Yourself

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After a person has signed his/her Will, the most often asked question is, “what do I do with my Will”. There are a variety of responses to that question. Among the answers are: A safe deposit box which can present another problem at your death; A secured strong box in your home; The Trust Department of the bank if you have named the bank as executor of your estate. If you place your Will in your safe deposit box, make certain that you have authorized your spouse, at least one of your children or a trusted friend to have access

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