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Will & Trusts 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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Thinking of Gifting of Body to University of Iowa?

deeded body, living will, estate planning des moines

Many clients inquire as to the process to donate one’s body to the University of Iowa for scientific purposes. In order to be effective, the University of Iowa requires that a Deed of Disposition of Body for Scientific Purposes be on file with the University prior to an individual’s death. The Deed of Disposition of Body for Scientific Purposes can be executed by a person who is 18 years of age and competent. The University retains the right to not accept the body if it is not appropriate for their needs. The family of the donor or the estate of

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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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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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Facts About Organ Donation

organ donation, register as organ donor, iowa donor network, beatty & Miller pc

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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