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Probate Law West Des Moines

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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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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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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More About Mediation

mediation, probate court mediation, mediation services

In last month’s blog, Jim Beatty discussed the mediation program for probate matters in Polk County. This blog will piggyback on that blog. Recently, I have had my first experience facilitating a mediation involving a probate matter. In anticipation of the mediation event, I did some research regarding styles of facilitating a mediation event and the styles of the positions of the disputing parties. Not only is it important to clearly identify a mutual understanding of the disputed issues, but equally important to identify the emotional impact which both have related to the dispute. The fact issue will most often be an economic (business matter)

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Mediation In Probate

mediation in probate, beatty & Miller PC

Recently the Iowa Supreme Court approved on a trial basis a mediation program for probate matters in Polk County, Iowa. Under the program, the Polk County Probate Judge has the ability to refer matters to mediation at his discretion. Unlike arbitration, where the arbitrator makes a decision which is binding on the parties, a mediator works with the parties to help them reach a decision which is agreeable to the parties. The mediators for the program will be experienced probate attorneys who have gone through mediation training. Both Jim Beatty and Ned Miller of our office completed 24 hours of mediation training in April of this

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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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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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