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Estate & Trust Administration

New Laws Pertaining to First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts

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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

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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

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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

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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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Benefits of Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions

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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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Everything You Need To Know About Living Wills

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Iowa law allows for individuals to execute Living Wills to insure that the rights and desires of terminally ill or comatose individuals are honored.  The document takes the decision making burden away from your family members.  Your physician will make sure your desires are accomplished.  Pursuant to the Living Will, you direct your physician to withhold life-sustaining procedures in the event you have an incurable or irreversible condition that will result in death within a relatively short period of time or a state of permanent unconsciousness from which, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, there can be no recovery.

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

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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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What is a Revocable Living Trust?

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This month I want to introduce you to the Revocable Living Trust which is also known as a Revocable Trust, Living Trust, or Inter Vivos Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is a document which is used to manage one’s property during life and to distribute one’s property at the time of death. The person who creates the Trust is referred to as the trustor, grantor or settlor. The person who holds the property and who is in charge of the management of the Trust is the trustee. The individuals and entities which receive distributions from the Trust are the beneficiaries.

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Skepticism as a Useful Tool

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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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