Estate Planning Triggers – Part Three – What Causes People to Engage in Estate Planning

The biggest reason that people become engaged in Estate Planning is the occurrence of a “mortality event”.  This can be a serious injury or dramatic illness which they have suffered, or the injury, illness or death of someone close to them.  These would include the death of a parent or the serious illness or death of a close friend.  It is common for individuals who have been seriously injured, or have received a disappointing medical diagnosis, to “put their affairs in order”.

A second reason is a change in your family.  By law, a divorce revokes all bequests to the former Spouse, but commonly a divorce causes people to re-think who they want as beneficiaries, and whether the creation of  testamentary trusts would be efficacious.  The birth of a child or a grandchild can cause people to engage in Estate Planning.  Often, people are concerned about appointing a guardian to raise minor children, or creating a trust to protect minor beneficiaries from being taken advantage of, or squandering assets.

A third reason that people engage in Estate Planning is travel; particularly travel overseas.  While most people travel to reasonably safe places, with the upsurge in terrorist activities in the past several years, people are concerned that if something happens to them while away from home, they want to make sure they have left instructions as to how matters should be handled.

Estate planning is NOT about DEATH.  It is about taking CONTROL.  It is about making sure your wishes are known so that they can be carried out at a time when you cannot act for yourself.  Contact us today to take control by establishing an Estate Plan.

Estate Planning Triggers – Part Two – Why is Estate Planning Important

Absent an estate plan, the Iowa Code governs these matters.

A court will decide who is best suited to distribute your property after you pass.  This may not be the same individual you would choose.  Similarly, the Iowa statute establishes a plan for distribution of your assets which may or may not conform to your wishes.  If there is no Will:

  • A surviving Spouse gets all of the Estate if you do not have children or if all of your children are also children of the surviving Spouse.
  • If you have children who are NOT the surviving Spouse’s children (i.e. a “blended” family) the surviving Spouse get half and the children who are NOT children of surviving Spouse get half.
  • If there is no surviving Spouse and you have no children your Estate goes to your parents (in equal shares).
  • If there is no surviving Spouse, children or parents, your Estate will go to your siblings in equal shares.
  • If there is no surviving Spouse, then your children get everything in equal shares with no opportunity for a trust.  A court would establish a conservatorship for assets which would otherwise be given to minor beneficiaries, and there are significant limitations on actions a court appointed conservator can take without prior court approval.

Similarly, if there is no surviving spouse, a court has to appoint a guardian to raise your children.  This may or may not be the same individual you would choose, and accordingly, they may or may not raise your child in the manner you would want them to.

Kreamer Law West Des Moines, Iowa

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7155 Lake Drive, Suite 200
West Des Moines, IA 50266-2507
Tel: (515) 727-0900 Fax: (515) 727-0939

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