Cedar Rapids Estate Planning Lawyers

While understandably not the most pleasant of tasks, planning for the future of your loved ones in the event that anything should happen to you can help to provide you and those closest to you with considerable peace of mind, knowing that everything is taken care of beforehand. Furthermore, effective estate planning can help to protect what is rightfully yours and to prevent the possibility of disputes and conflict among family members or other parties.

Unfortunately, due to complex tax and estate laws, making sure your family is taken care of can be frustrating and difficult. Our legal team at Arenson Law Group, PC understands this, but believe that with the right guidance, you can rest assured that your property and affairs are handled.

Our Estate Planning Practice Areas

Estate planning can involve a number of different issues, and it’s important to have an attorney on your side with the experience necessary to meet your needs when handling these issues, including the following:

  • Estates
  • Probate
  • Intestacy
  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Gifts
  • Charitable Bequests
  • Guardianships and Conservatorships
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Living Wills

Making sure these legal issues are addressed by an attorney who is intimately familiar with this area of law is critical, as it can help your loved ones be more secure should anything happen to you.

Frequently Asked Questions:

I had a relative that died without a will. What happens to the deceased’s property?

In Iowa, when people die, the deceased’s property is transferred to other individuals in one of four ways:

  • Under Iowa’s probate laws: if the person dies testate (with a will), or intestate (without a will)
  • Through joint ownership, like owning your home with another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship
  • Through a trust
  • Through an account that is payable on death to another person, or by designation of a beneficiary, like in a retirement account

For more information, see: https://www.iowalegalaid.org/resource/do-you-need-a-will?ref=gPDOU

What happens to an estate if the deceased has no descendants?

When there are no descendants, an estate goes to the parents. If there are no living parents, then the estate will go to your parent’s closest descendants (siblings first, and then nieces and nephews, etc.) If there are no siblings, nieces or nephews, then the estate goes to your grandparents or relatives of them. If these are not living, then the estate goes to the deceased spouse’s descendants. If none of these are living or exist, then the estate will go to the state of Iowa.

Can anyone cut their spouse out of the will, including the disposition of property?

Typically, Iowa law does allow you to distribute your property as you choose. Though, there are some important restrictions. You are not allowed to exclude a spouse from receiving any of an existing estate, upon your death. The law will allow the spouse to take a certain amount of the assets even if you attempted to cut the spouse out of the will before your death.

Does having a will cause an increase in probate expenses?

No, it doesn’t. It could even save probate expense as less court involvement is needed. If you have good estate planning through a will, this can save your estate and beneficiaries quite a large amount of administration costs and taxes. See: http://www.iowabar.org/?page=wills

Are there any types of property that are not covered by a will?

  • Retirement plans: any money from your retirement plan will go to individuals you named in the plan, with or without a will, unless you do not name anyone or the person named doesn’t survive you.
  • Living trusts: any property you put into a living trust will end up with the beneficiary, regardless of the status of your will.
  • Life insurance: any money from your life insurance policy will go to the individuals that you have designated as beneficiaries of the policy. This is regardless of whom you have chosen to obtain property in your will unless you designate your estate as the beneficiary.
  • Property owned by joint tenants: any real estate, bank accounts, or other property with another person(s) can be owned as joint tenants. Therefore, your co-owners will inherit your share.

However, it is recommended that you make a will even if your estate consists of the above types of property. For example, holding property in joint tenancy can, in some cases, increase taxes and expenses. A qualified attorney can design a will and estate plan that can save your heirs both time and money in the long run.

Estate Planning in the U.S. – Statistics

According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a survey from Caring.com shows that only four in ten American adults already have a will or living trust. The Caring.com survey that was originally conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International in January 2017 shows that only 42% of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents.

The study had asked 1003 respondents whether they had any estate-planning documents in case of their death. Although older adults lead the numbers in having the estate-planning, many Americans are without an estate plan. See the age categories below:

  • 81% of those age 72 or older and 58% of the boomers, ages 53-71, have some estate-planning documents, such as a will or living trust
  • 78% of millennials, ages 18-36, don’t have a will
  • 64% of Generation Xers, ages 37-52, don’t have a will
  • 40% of respondents in the 53- to 71-year-old age group stated that they don’t have a will
  • Only 36% of adults with children under the age of 18 have an end-of-life plan

It is concerning that many Americans have failed to complete some form of estate planning. It is especially crucial for younger people to have these wills if they have children because, in the event of their untimely death, the children can be cared for by designated guardians (as stated in a parents’ will). In the survey, reasons given were that they ‘had not gotten around to it’ (47% of those surveyed), and they ‘don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone’(29% of those surveyed).

Yet, the survey does show that more people are proactive about their health care power of attorney. This gives someone of your choosing the right to make medical decisions for you, should you be unable to do so yourself. The survey showed that about half of adults have a power of attorney in place, with 83 percent of people over age 72 having this document, versus 41 percent of millennials.

Many Americans, particularly baby boomers, know that they should have a will, but planning for potential tragedy is typically an uncomfortable process. Additionally, the impression that a will is only needed for those that have wealth or complex finances is not true. It is crucial to have a will, regardless of age or assets, since it allows you to make key decisions about what you want, and it makes it easier for loved ones that you leave behind. If you don’t have a will, government officials in your state will determine the disposition of your property.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Cedar Rapids

If you are considering estate planning in Cedar Rapids, our lawyers at Arenson Law Group, PC can help to ensure that everything is handled appropriately. Learn more about the estate planning services we provide and discuss your exact needs with us by calling (319) 363-8199.