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Legal Resources West Des Moines

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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Don’t Hide The Important Documents From Yourself

filing wills and legal documents west des moines, iowa

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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Answers on Iowa’s Final Disposition Act

caring for the body after death

In the course of managing the estate for yourself or a loved one, the specifics surrounding disposition is often confusing. Iowa law provides detailed answers, but after the death of an individual, family members and friends are often concerned with consoling one another and paying respects to the deceased. Burial, cremation, and other details need to be fully defined through proper estate planning procedures. For your convenience, we’ve put together a comprehensive overview of the Iowa Code for Disposition. Chapter 144C of the Iowa Code, which was enacted in 2008, sets forth the Final Disposition Act which allows a person

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Recordkeeping: A Blissful Task or Cursed Undertaking?

recordkeeping west des moines iowa

What is it about Recordkeeping that makes it so difficult to do at times? As I get into the topic of recordkeeping, I learned that it is a much broader topic than this Blog has time to address. Recordkeeping addresses an array of matters for which records are created. In my opinion, there are two significant elements of recordkeeping, they are the emotional side (how I feel about recordkeeping) and the reasoning side (what I think about recordkeeping). First, I want to address the emotional side. Is it fun to do? Is it tedious to do? Do I feel rewarded

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How Long Should You Keep Records?

How long to keep legal documents files

Our clients frequently ask us for advice on how long they need to attain their various records. Often times, the requirements for records retention varies based on the circumstances. For the benefit of our clients as well as you, our readers, the table set forth below will give some general guidelines for record-keeping and documentation. If you have additional questions pertaining to the documentation of legal records or have questions concerning another legal matter, please don’t hesitate to call us – 515-225-1100. By James D. Beatty.

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“Near Death” Experiences Should Prompt Immediate Actions

neat death experience

After you have recovered from a near-death experience, what are some tasks/things you might want to consider doing promptly (not prioritized except for the first task to do). Call your mother/father assuming they too have recovered from your near-death experience. Call your favorite teacher/athletic coach/mentor and tell him/her or them how much you have appreciated her/him or them (you may need to assume that she/he or they remember you). Invite your closest friend(s) to your home and share a bottle of really good wine or really really good Scotch with her/him or them. Go to that favorite quiet place in

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Distribution of Property by Affidavit

Distribution of Property

Section 633.356 of the Iowa Probate Code sets forth a provision that is often overlooked by the estate planning professionals. The provision sets forth a method to avoid probate of an estate in an item of personal property involved is valued at $25,000.00 or less. For example, a person may die with a house titled in joint tenancy with their spouse and have a life insurance policy to their spouse but have a bank account in their individual name. The house passes to the surviving spouse outside of probate due to the fact that the asset is held in joint

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The ABLE Act (acronym: Achieving Better Life Experience)

able act - saving money for college

The ABLE Act referred to in last month’s blog was signed by the Governor and becomes law effective July 1, 2016. The Act authorizes the State of Iowa to create savings accounts, similar to the 529 College Saving Plans, to be created for disabled persons prior to age 26. The income earned on such accounts are exempt from Federal income tax if the money is spent for eligible services. The Treasurer of the State of Iowa is drafting the administrative provisions for the Act and will act as the depository for the savings accounts. Also, the Governor signed the Inheritance

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2015 Legislative Changes Regarding Probate & Trust

legislative changes for probate trust will estate

The 2015 Legislature recently adjourned for the year. I will summarize the major items of legislation which were passed by the House and Senate. Iowa inheritance tax changes were made in regard to bequests going to the children of step-children.   Prior to the passage of the act, there was no Iowa inheritance tax owed from bequests passing to the surviving spouse, parents, grandparents, great grandparents, children, stepchildren, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and other lineal descendants. The new Act provides that bequests passing to lineal descendants of a decedent’s stepchildren will also be exempt from Iowa inheritance tax.   The bill does not

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Planting a Tree – Iowa Tax Strategies

iowa tax law

The question was asked of a forester, “what is the best time to plant a tree?” The answer was 40 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today. So what is my point? Now that Iowa tax season is behind us, it is appropriate to take time and reflect on how we could have made the process of gathering income tax information less stressful. Gathering information on the income-side is relatively easy. That information is sent to you by a payer of interest or dividends, a K-1 from a partnership or Sub-S Corporation or some other

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