In Iowa, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you actually want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for actually implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these objectives.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your assessment on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such decisions for you, if you are unable.
A qualified estate planner in Iowa may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Furthermore, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in Iowa
Estate plans in Iowa almost always have these features:
Will: If you've decided who you want to leave your property and money to after you die, you should make these wishes official, by writing a will. When writing a will, it's always a good idea to have the help of an attorney, since many problems can come up which might make the will much more difficult to implement, or they might even void it entirely. Common problems include ambiguities in the terms of the will (a term which is not clearly written, so it can be interpreted differently by reasonable people), as well as failure to follow the required formalities.
Power of Attorney: This is a legal document in which you give some other person (usually a family member) the ability to make decisions (often related to money or healthcare) on your behalf if you become incapable of doing so.
Funeral Arrangements: If you have any assessment whatsoever on how your mortal remains should be handled, you should make it clear to your family, in writing. You should also make the necessary arrangements with a funeral home, in advance. If possible, you should try to pay in advance for your funeral expenses, to save your survivors the additional burden of planning and paying for a funeral. These arrangements should be laid out somewhere other than in your will, because a will usually isn't read for days or weeks after the testator's death, by which point it is usually too late.
Do I Need an Iowa Estate Planning Attorney?
Estate planning is very important (if you care about what happens to your family after your death), and can involve some pretty difficult decisions. It should be clear, then, that a good Iowa estate planning attorney will likely be worth the cost, because they can give your wishes the best possible chance of taking effect.
Interesting Facts About Iowa
The state of Iowa is the nation's 29th state, being admitted into the Union in the year 1846. It is known as "The Hawkeye State". The state's economy is well established in the areas of biotechnology and green energy production. Iowa is bounded by both the Missouri River and the Mississippi River. The presidential caucuses are held every four years in Iowa. w One of the main landmarks in Iowa is the state capitol building located in the capital city of Des Moines. It has a striking appearance due to its five domes. Its central dome is overlaid in 23-carat gold. The capitol building has chambers that are sometimes used by the Iowa Supreme Court, although the Supreme Court usually meets in the Supreme Court building.
As the court of last resort, the Iowa Supreme Court mostly handles appeals coming from lower Court of Appeals and the District Courts. Iowa is generally associated with legal cases involving civil rights and anti-discrimination laws. For example State of Iowa v. Katz was decided in 1949 and banned racial discrimination in public businesses. Another landmark case, Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), dealt with the rights of Iowa students seeking to express their political views. Iowa continues to be an innovator among states in terms of legal trends and policies.
Lawyers in Iowa maintain high standards of professionalism and ethics. Many Iowa lawyers have represented clients in major court decisions. An experienced attorney in Iowa can help you resolve your legal issues and inquiries.