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Legal Resources West Des Moines

Understanding Pre-Need Funeral Arrangements

pre-need funeral arrangements

This month’s article discusses the sale of pre-need funeral arrangements which are sold by funeral homes and cemeteries.  The contract is entered into whereby the customer selects the various features of a funeral and the various details regarding the final disposition of the body. Under Iowa law, such pre-need contracts can be cancelled by the customer within three days after signing the contract if you change your mind.  The contract can require either a lump sum payment or a series of installment payments.  If you elect to pay in installments, it is important to verify what happens in the event

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Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Tax Provisions In The New Tax Act

estate planning tax law

This brief article will deal with the changes to the Estate, Gift and Generation Skipping Tax under the new tax law. The Act doubles the basic exclusion amount for estates of individuals who die during the 2018 through 2025 tax years and for gifts made during those same tax years.  The basic exclusion amount for each person increases from 5.6 million per person in 2017 to 11.2 million per person in 2018.  The amount of the exclusion will be indexed for inflation starting in tax year 2019. The Act does not repeal the estate, gift or generation skipping tax for

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Be Wary of Transfer on Death and Payable on Death Accounts

death benefit iowa law

The use of transfer on death and payable on death registrations for bank and investment accounts has increased dramatically.  Banks and investment firms are pushing their clients to sign the forms claiming that the forms will eliminate the need for probate administration. Chapter 633D of the Iowa Code deals with transfer on death registrations which applies to investment accounts.  The Act allows the owner to designate the beneficiary of the account in the event of the owner’s death.  The beneficiary form may be cancelled or changed at any time by the owner without the consent of the beneficiary.  The Act

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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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