Insights from a Recent Living Trust Case

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On July 22, 2020, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the matter of the Inman Family Living Trust (No. 19-1045).  Leland and Ella Mae Inman executed the Inman Family Living Trust in 2014.  In 2016, Leland passed away.  The Trust provided that the trustees possessed the powers, rights and discretion set forth in the Iowa Code; that the trustees are authorized to determine fairly and equitably the manner of ascertainment of income and principal and the allocation of all receipts and disbursements to income and principal accounts; and that the Trust shall be governed in accordance with

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Estate Planning in the Covid-19 Crisis

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Estate planning has changed dramatically during the Covid-19 crisis.  The majority of our clients are older individuals who are at a higher risk of being infected with the virus and who have an elevated risk of serious complications from the virus.  Many of our clients are concerned about contracting the virus and have reached out to us about their desires to update their estate planning documents as soon and safely as possible. The challenge facing all estate planning attorneys is how to safely perform estate planning for vulnerable clients in the Covid-19 environment.  From the middle of March to the

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New Iowa Supreme Court Probate Case – Harold Youngblut vs. Leonard Youngblut

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On June 12, 2020, the Supreme Court of Iowa issued a decision in the Harold Youngblut vs. Leonard Youngblut case.  The case involves two brothers, Harold and Leonard Youngblut.  Their parent were Earl and Agnes Youngblut.  Earl and Agnes were the parents of twelve children, three of whom predeceased them.  Earl and Agnes formed a corporation, Youngblut Farmland Ltd. in 1980 and transferred most of their farm assets into the corporation with the exception of farm ground in Tama County known as the “South Farm”.  Both Harold and Leonard worked for the corporation until Leonard left in 1988 over a

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Passage of the Secure Act & What it Means to You

On December 20, 2019, the President signed into law the Secure Act.  This article will focus on the key provisions of the new Act. The new Act changes the beginning age for taking required minimum distributions to age 72.  The new law applies to account owners who turn 70½ after the year 2019.  The new Act also repeals the prohibition on contributions to a traditional IRA by an individual who has attained the age of 70½.  Owners of traditional IRA’s can now make contributions past the age of 70½. The new Act also allows taxpayers to withdraw up to $5,000

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Mental Illness and Lack of Testamentary Capacity

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On September 25, 2019, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued a ruling in the Matter of the Estate of Freeman Adams.  Freeman Adams died in December 2016.  Dorothy Ruth Fisher, the sister of the decedent, petitioned in probate to open an intestate estate for the decedent.  Ms. Fisher acknowledged that the decedent executed a Last Will and Testament in 2011 and asserted that such document was invalid due to lack of testamentary capacity or the product of undue influence, or both.  Two beneficiaries of the Estate objected to Ms. Fisher’s petition. The facts of the case show that the decedent

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New Retirement Bill Passes House

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On May 23, 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed (417-3) the Secure Act with the support of both Republicans and Democrats.  The purpose of the bill is to improve the country’s retirement system.  The bill is currently in the U.S. Senate awaiting passage.  Some of the main provisions that the Secure Act provides are as follows: It will repeal the maximum age for Traditional IRA contributions, which is currently 70. It will change the age to begin required minimum distributions from 70½ to 72. It will allow long term, part time workers to participate in 401k plans; It will

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Fiduciary Obligations on a 529 Account Owned by a Trust

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On May 15, 2019, the Iowa Court of Appeals issued an Opinion in the case of Alberhasky v. Alberhasky.  The Opinion has received national attention.  The plaintiff, Max Alberhasky, sued his father, Rodney Alberhasky, alleging that Rod breached his fiduciary duties as a trustee of assets transferred to Rod’s mother.  Rod filed for divorce in 1999.  Rod has two children, Max and Grayson.  In 2000, Rod’s mother, Allie, set up a Revocable Trust and named Rod and her daughter, JoEllen, as successor trustees.  Rod and JoEllen became co-trustees for Allie’s Trust in 2009.  In 2010, Allie’s Trust enrolled in an

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Changes to Guardianships for Minors

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The Iowa Legislature recently passed and the Governor signed legislation which makes significant changes to the Iowa law regarding guardianships and conservatorships for adults and minors. Last month my blog dealt with the changes regarding guardianships for adults and conservatorships for adults and minors. This month I will discuss changes for guardianships for minors. The new law will apply to new minor guardianships opened after December 31, 2019 and will also apply to minor guardianships which were opened prior to January 1, 2020. The provisions in the Code regarding minor guardianships have been moved from Chapter 633 to Chapter 232D.

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New Law Regarding Certification of Trust

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The Governor has recently signed Senate File 112 amending the requirements for certifications of trust. The new Act becomes effective July 1, 2019.  The certification of trust must do all of the following: State that the Trust has not been revoked, modified or amended in any manner that would cause the representations in the certification of trust to be incorrect. Be signed by a currently acting trustee or the attorney of an acting trustee. Be subscribed and sworn to under penalty of perjury before a notary public as provided in Chapter 9B. The new Act is broader than the current

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Tax-Free IRA Distributions to Certain Public Charities for Taxpayers 70½ and Older

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The Federal Path Act includes provisions to allow a taxpayer who is age 70½ or older to make tax-free distributions from their IRA’s to qualified charities. The Path Act allows an individual who is over the age of 70½ to make a direct distribution from their IRA account to a charity.  The benefit of doing such is that the amount transferred to the charity will be counted as part of the taxpayer’s qualified minimum distribution and it will also not be included in the taxpayer’s gross income for Federal and State income taxes.  In order to qualify as a qualified

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