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Legal Resources West Des Moines

Supreme Court Case on Iowa Inheritance Tax Exemptions

inheritance tax code iowa

The Iowa Supreme Court, on November 17, 2017, issued an opinion interpreting a definition utilized in an inheritance tax exemption.  The Court points out that for many years prior to 1997 the Iowa inheritance tax had an unlimited exemption for any share of the estate passing to the surviving spouse, limited exemptions for lineal descendants and lineal ascendants and no exemption for step-children.  In 1997, the Legislature eliminated inheritance tax on property passing to parents, grandparents, great grandparents, children, stepchildren, grandchildren and great grandchildren among others.  In 2003, the Legislature added a definition for “stepchild” which defined “stepchild” as the

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Big News for Family Settlement Agreements

iowa family will lawyer

The Iowa Department of Revenue has had a long standing position that it will not accept Family Settlement Agreements to change the calculation of Iowa Inheritance Tax.  The Department has always relied on the original Will or Trust to calculate the amount of inheritance tax owed to the State of Iowa.  A recent Iowa Court of Appeals decision has changed the long standing policy regarding Family Settlement Agreements.  Family Settlement Agreements arise in estates or trusts where the beneficiaries of the Estate or Trust agree to enter into an agreement to change how the assets of the Estate or Trust

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Guardianships and Conservatorships

guardianship and conservatorship, elder law, estate planning

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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New Laws Pertaining to First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts

new real estate laws for first time home buyers

A new law was recently signed by the Governor which authorizes tax-preferred First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts beginning in the year 2018.  Under the law, when an individual sets up a FTHSA account, he or she may exclude from their Iowa adjusted gross income yearly deposits of $2,000.  Married taxpayers who file a joint return may exclude up to $4,000.00 a year if the money is deposited into a joint FTHSA.  Any interest earned on a FTHSA account, will not be included in a taxpayer’s income. At the time that the FTHSA is opened, an individual can designate a sole beneficiary. 

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Iowa Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

laws about digital assets iowa

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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Dismissal of Des Moines Waterworks Lawsuit

des moines water works ruling

The lawsuit filed by the Des Moines Waterworks against the drainage districts in three Northwest Iowa Counties has been followed extensively in the press.  The case which deals with the issue of how to deal with the levels of nitrates in the State’s drinking water was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.  The Federal District Court Judge certified four questions to the Iowa Supreme Court in order to clarify issues of Iowa law raised in the lawsuit.  The Iowa Supreme Court issued a ruling finding that Iowa law has immunized drainage districts from

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Administration of Small Estates

estate planning lawyer west des moines iowa

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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Benefits of Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions

power of attorney des moines iowa

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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Ned P. Miller “Of Counsel” October 1, 2016

ned miller iowa attorney, of counsel west des moines

On October 1, 2016, Ned P. Miller will change his status from a Shareholder to “Of Counsel”. The “Of Counsel” designation indicates that Ned is on a semi-retirement basis and will continue his practice in fewer or more select areas of the practice of law. He will also be available to the firm for consultation and advice as needed. Our firm will remain in the same location and we will continue to practice in the same areas of the practice of law. James D. Beatty will continue as a Shareholder and will continue to practice full time. In the future,

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