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A Short Guide to Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Author: Jase Jensen

  • What is Estate Planning?

Your estate includes all of your interests in land and other property. Estate planning, however, can encompass many more important considerations for you and your family. This short guide is meant to serve as a general introduction to some of the issues and tools relating to your estate. Working with an attorney at Howes Law Firm regarding estate planning is meant to help you plan for the future and take care of yourself and those who are important to you. For further information on these topics, please see any of our qualified attorneys. Initial consultations are of no charge.

  • Why should I have an Estate Plan?

An estate plan is important for several reasons, but the main reason is to help yourself, your loved ones, friends, and other people or organizations which have special meaning to you. By having an estate plan, you can appoint decision makers, direct your property to be distributed where you want it to go, and you have organized your wishes in a way that allows for the maximum amount of efficiency in settling your estate.

  • Last Will & Testament

Commonly referred to simply as a “Will”, your last Will & Testament sets forth your wishes on where your property will go once you pass away. Through a Will you can also make important decisions on the care of others, such as naming a Guardian for your minor children and establishing a Trust for the purpose of their care.

  • Durable Power of Attorney for Medical & Financial Decisions

Iowa law allows citizens in the State to establish a durable power of attorney, which is a document that allows you to name someone, called an “attorney-in-fact,” to make decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. You can establish attorney-in-fact to make both financial decisions and medical decisions for you.

  • Declaration of Designee for Disposition of My Remains

Iowa law also allows citizens in the State to officially name someone to handle their remains. The person you name to handle your remains is referred to as your “designee” and is in charge of your remains, funeral, and other considerations. This document is incorporated into your Durable Power of Attorney for Medical Decisions.

  • Declaration Relating to Use of Life-Sustaining Procedures (Living Will)

A living will gives you control on what you want to happen to your body if you have a terminal condition. By having a living will, you direct medical professionals to withdraw life-sustaining procedures if you have a terminal condition.

  • Trusts

A trust is most simply something that is created in order to benefit someone. A trust is a legal creation. It is an interest someone has in property that is managed by another person, called a trustee. A trust works like this: Property is placed into a trust by someone; that someone names a trustee to manage the property that they placed in the trust; and that property is managed by the trustee for the benefit of a third person, the “beneficiary.” The beneficiary can also be the person who created the trust.

  • Other Considerations

Working with an attorney at Howes Law Firm regarding your estate is not meant to handle your finances. For assistance managing your personal finances please visit with a professional financial planner and a certified public accountant (CPA). We encourage clients to seek out professional financial advice and are glad to work with other professionals to see to it that your estate is well taken care of.

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