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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