Estate Planning

Iowa Estate Planning Essentials

If you live in Iowa and are asking yourself whether you need an estate plan, the answer is almost always going to be yes. Whether it is a simple will, or something more comprehensive, professional estate plans are almost certain to save you and your loved ones time, money, and stress in the future. 

What is Estate Planning, Anyways?

Everyone who owns anything has an estate. If you are a person who owns things (like the phone or computer you’re using to read this), that includes you! Everything you own, including your dining room table, car, 401K and even your life insurance policy is a part of your estate. Estate Planning is the process of making sure everything you own is protected for the sake of your family when you’re no longer around to enjoy it. 

So What Does An Estate Plan Actually Do? 

Regardless of its size or complexity, your estate needs its plan to be carefully crafted to suit your family’s needs. Every estate plan has three primary goals: 

  • Protect Your Family: You would do anything to protect the ones you love. Life insurance provides for them if you can’t. Financial advisors make certain your investments blossom to carry you through retirement. A comprehensive estate plan will protect your loved ones from creditors, and help ensure your family can continue living in the family home. You shouldn’t need to worry about who will take care of your kids, or where they will live. With proper estate planning, you won’t have to. 
  • Respect Your Legacy: Did you know the Nobel Peace Prize was created by a Swedish person’s estate plan? You spend your entire life working hard and accumulating wealth. Whether it is through charitable giving or setting your family up to be successful for generations to come, a proper estate plan will make sure your legacy is secure.
  • Maximize Your Wealth: Speaking of wealth, an estate plan is an investment. And investments in your family’s future are not the place to cut corners. An estate plan that has been individually tailored to suit your family’s needs can pay for itself multiple times over, keeping your family secure when it matters most. An estate planning attorney can save you thousands of dollars by simplifying (or better yet, avoiding!) the probate process. Long-term assisted living facilities can cost you tens-of thousands of dollars every year without professional Medicaid planning. By investing wisely in an estate plan today, you can avoid financial hardship in the future. 

If you have not yet set up an estate plan, or have questions about whether your estate plan is sufficient to protect you and your family, please continue reading or click here to schedule your 100% free 15-minute consultation. If you decide that your family needs a more comprehensive estate plan, you can claim your $1 One-Dollar-Will and Complimentary Estate Protection Plan by scheduling your free consultation today!

Do You Really Need an Estate Plan? 

Do you have children, a significant other, a home, elderly parents, or more than $50,000 in total assets (including investments and insurance policies)? If the answer is yes, you probably need an estate plan. If you are single, don’t currently have children, and don’t own a home, that plan may be as simple as drafting a will. If you have young children, have or are planning on purchasing a home, or you are married, odds are a will is not going to cut it.

 In Iowa, owning a home without estate planning practically guarantees your family will be forced to endure the often year-long process of probate, incurring thousands of dollars in legal fees and spending tens of hours navigating the legal system. Oftentimes that emotional and financial headache can be avoided entirely with a little bit of planning. 

If you have young children, you need to know who will be watching over them, where they will be living, and how they will be provided for financially. Without an estate plan, it can become a scramble for the court to determine who gets custody of your children. That choice ultimately needs to be yours to make, and with proper estate planning, it will be. 

Essential Estate Planning Documents Checklist!

If this all seems overwhelming – don’t worry! You shouldn’t have to understand the intricacies of Iowa’s judicial system to know whether your family is protected, and with this short list, you won’t have to. Although every person’s estate planning needs are unique, these five essential estate planning tools will be a good start to every family’s plan. 

Your Will

The most famous tool in your box is the last will and testament. Think of the will as your estate planning blueprint. Your last will and testament is what you will use to direct who gets your property, and who will care for your minor children. 

Despite its infamy, most estate plans require more than a simple will. For example, your will does not determine who can make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Fortunately, there are four other essential tools which fill in for the will’s weak spots. 

Revocable Living Trust

For most families, the revocable living trust will be the heartbeat of your estate plan. All good investments should pay off at some point, and in Iowa, a revocable living trust can allow you to avoid probate and save your family thousands, if not tens of thousands, in legal fees down the line. Best of all, establishing a revocable living trust early allows you to protect the value of your home from inflation when it comes time to administer your estate. 

For families with complex asset portfolios consisting of real estate properties or closely held businesses, the revocable living trust is an estate planning investment that can pay for itself 10-times over by ensuring these investments are properly managed and distributed to your beneficiaries. 

If you have children or loved ones who depend on financial assistance from the government, a special needs trust can ensure they continue to qualify for the funding sources they depend on, while providing them with an additional source of income throughout the rest of their lives. 

Health Care Power of Attorney

There are two types of power of attorney documents every estate plan needs to have. Your healthcare power of attorney allows you to choose who gets to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. If you want, this document will set out the ground rules for what that person can and cannot decide on your behalf, allowing you to call the shots in advance. It is important to note that indicating what you want done or who you want to decide in your will is not enough. Without a separate, properly executed healthcare power of attorney, your will is powerless when it comes to making decisions about your health care.

Financial Power of Attorney

Like the healthcare power of attorney, your financial power of attorney designates who will be making financial decisions on your behalf. In many circumstances, multiple children will be named co-designees on a healthcare power of attorney, while only one is put in charge of making sure they can access your finances. This can be essential if you have debts, a mortgage, outstanding loans, or other financial obligations which need to be paid. Failure to keep up with any payment obligations could make matters substantially worse for you and your family if not properly prepared. 

Beneficiary Designations and Asset Worksheet

A simple but often overlooked aspect of estate planning is making sure your beneficiaries can access your assets without constantly seeking court approval, and that any assets which can be transferred automatically are set up to do so. An organized beneficiary designation and asset worksheet should make this task simple for your family. Here are some of the most important sources of information your family will need to access:

  • Insurance Policies
  • Financial Plan and Financial Planner Contact
  • Tax Returns
  • Real Estate Deeds
  • Bank Accounts and Safety Deposit Boxes
  • Passwords and Login Information

Like insurance, stocks, or new tires for your car, professional estate planning is an investment. If you live in Iowa and do not have any of the five essential estate planning documents, it is probably time to consult a professional to determine whether you or your family are exposed. 

Fortunately, you can schedule your consultation in less than 60-seconds and it won’t cost you a dime. If you determine that protecting your family’s future by investing in a comprehensive estate plan is right for you, Allied Legal will support you on your estate planning journey by offering you a $1 One-Dollar-Will and Complimentary Estate Protection Plan by scheduling your free consultation today.

What Makes Us Different

  • Schedule your consultation immediately whenever it works for you.

  • Plan today, pay tomorrow, with available financing options.

  • Our Complimentary Estate Protection Plan keeps your documents current and your family protected.

  • Comprehensive Estate Plans come with a $1 One-Dollar-Will voucher to help you accomplish your estate planning goals!