Gardner Law Firm, PC

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This past year, I had the opportunity to go skydiving. What a blast! I had wanted to skydive for a while so I was anxious to jump out. However,  when you are on the edge of the plane door, looking out at the ground several thousand feet below you, a slight pause is a natural feeling. Thinking about your possible demise can be unnerving. Similarly, sometimes doing your estate planning can have the same feeling. …
Adoption can be a wonderful thing.  My niece, in this picture, is adopted and she is a wonderful addition to our family.  However, adoption can have some funky applications in the estate planning world.  A recent ruling from the Iowa Supreme Court was interesting on a couple of issues involving an adoption: To avoid paying inheritance taxes for a bequest to a non-lineal descendant, a nephew was adopted by his aunt. Even though he was…
It is hard to believe that my oldest daughter is heading off to college this week at Drake University.  I’m excited for her as she starts this next journey in her life.  In addition to getting all of the necessary supplies, such as towels, laundry bags, books, pepper spray, etc., it is also important that parents of college-bound kids have the kids sign power of attorney documents.  While we may still think of…
Not every marriage works out.  Duh.  Sometimes, after one ends, another marriage begins and several challenges begin.  You have the challenges of “mixing” families together, learning about snoring patterns, and discovering a new person.  You also frequently have the challenge of dealing with estate planning.  I’ll skip the issues with snoring and focus on some of the estate planning points. If you are smart…and brave…bring up the subject of a premarital agreement (or a “prenup”…
A financial advisor recently reached out to me regarding the impact of a Power of Attorney document concerning financial matters.  In particular, the question was whether the person signing the document (the “principal”) loses any power or authority once they sign the POA document.  As a reminder, the default rule (and recommended direction in my opinion) is that the agent’s power is immediate upon signing.  In other words, it is not necessary to…
A common issue that pops up with family members after someone dies is “do we need to go through probate?”   To answer that question, there are series of follow-up questions to be answered first.  To start the process, you should have a list of the assets in front of you and go through a “filter” process of the following questions. Question 1: Is there a named beneficiary for the assets?  Do any/all of the…
Every year I count the days down to this week.  Well, not really.  But it does serve as a regular reminder about the need to address the basics of estate planning.  Despite my best intentions, there continues to be a large portion of Americans that don’t have estate plans.  Based on a 2014 survey, for those individuals age 51-64,  51% don’t have wills.  For all ages above 18, it is 64% without wills.  Wow. Many
One of the convenient & powerful changes to the Iowa Probate Code from the 2015 legislative session involved the authority of a court-appointed representative to get information or access to financial information or assets.  Iowa Code section 633.78 was revised to give both the representative and the financial institution the necessary authority and protection in dealing with assets. Okay, that was enough of a legal mouthful.  If you want a bigger mouthful, you can read
A common question that comes up in client meetings is ‘how long does it take to get through probate?’  There a lot of variables that go into that determination.  However, it is fair to recommend some patience for the process to get completed. Notice Publication – This is one of the primary delays.  One requirement is that the executor/attorney needs to publish notice in a local newspaper to run for 2 consecutive weeks.  Then, after…
When you are putting together your estate plan (and shame on you if you haven’t done so yet) one of the decisions you may face is ‘who should be the trustee?’ This question assumes that you are using a trust.  Whether it is due to young beneficiaries, special needs, or other circumstances that call for managed control of assets, a trustee is the title assigned to person/entity.  So what are the requirements? Capable – A…