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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Opinion Issued on “No-Contest” Provision

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The Iowa Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion involving a will that contained a “no-contest” provision.  The will in question contained a “no-contest” provision which provided that if any beneficiary under the will contests the validity of the will by filing suit against the executor, any share to such beneficiary under the will is revoked and shall be disposed of in the manner provided under the will if the contesting beneficiary and all descendants of that beneficiary have predeceased the testator. After the testator’s death, a beneficiary under the will filed a petition to set aside the will based

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Intentional Interference with an Inheritance

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A recent case by the Iowa Court of Appeals dealt with the tort of intentional interference with an inheritance.  In the case, the testator died in 2015.  She had three children, two sons and a daughter.  She executed a Will in 2010 which divided her estate equally among her three children.  She executed another Will in 2011 which left most of her estate to her son, Wayne. After the 2011 Will was drafted, the other two children moved to file for a Guardianship and Conservatorship in regards to their mother.  The other brother, Wayne, proceeded to have a Codicil drafted

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Recent Changes to the Iowa Small Estate Statute

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Chapter 365 of the Iowa Code contains the Small Estate Statute. Recent legislation was passed which has made changes to the Chapter. The current statute is applicable to an estate if the value of the probate assets are $100,000.00 or less. One of the changes made in the legislation is to increase the maximum value of probate assets for an estate to qualify for small estate administration to $200,000.00 effective for estates of decedents dying on or after July 1, 2020. The new change in the maximum value of probate assets, combined with the increase in the amount for distribution

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New Law Regarding Distribution of Decedent’s Property By Affidavit

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The Governor recently signed Legislation which amends the Iowa Code Section 633.356 which allows distribution of a decedent’s property by Affidavit in lieu of a formal probate proceeding. The previous Section applied when the gross value of a decedent’s personal property was valued at $25,000.00 or less.  The new Section increases the dollar amount to $50,000.00 or less.  The new Act, like the previous Act, requires 40 days to pass from the death of a decedent before the Affidavit can be utilized.  The new Act becomes effective July 1, 2018.  The new Act requires that an Affidavit state that no

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