End of Life Planning

Many people have the mistaken belief that a last will and testament is only for the wealthy. Other people neglect making an estate plan because they just don’t want to think about it.

The truth is all kinds of families can benefit from an estate plan. No matter how much you plan to leave behind, sitting down with a skilled lawyer to make a plan is one of the best things you can do to help your loved ones after you are gone.


Everyone Should Have a Will

When a person passes away, everything they owned is bundled together into their estate. If a person left a will, or other estate plan, the estate is divided according to their plan and wishes. The decisions they made before their passing are legally enforceable and there are high barriers to anyone wishing to contest the estate plan.

If the person did not leave behind a will, or other estate planning document, a disinterested court will decide how to distribute the estate, and the results may look very different from what the person would have wanted. Iowa law gives courts guidelines on how to distribute estates in cases where a person did not leave a will. In most cases, this process involves finding and contacting relatives, digging through the family tree, and making difficult decisions regarding children, pets, or property. This process takes time and money, and that money comes out of the estate – leaving less available for the departed’s heirs. The state guidelines follow blood, not personal relationships. It’s not uncommon for close companions to be left out while a distant relative inherits the bulk of the estate. If no relatives can be found, property will go to the state. The simplest way to prevent this from happening is to have a will or other estate planning device.


Types of Estate Planning Devices

Estate plans are more than just wills. A will is a basic conveyance of money, property, and duties. In some cases, it is necessary to have more than just a will to protect assets, children, or create generational wealth. Other types of estate plans include:

  • Trusts - a transfer of your assets into an account administered by a third party
  • Living wills - advanced healthcare directives that detail what type of medical care you do or do not want if you cannot communicate your wishes
  • Power of attorney - an authorization for someone you trust to make medical and financial decisions when you cannot make them for yourself
  • Estate tax planning - preplanning for tax consequences associated with passing property

To find out more about these options, and how they might protect your family, contact Community Law Office. Our specialists will help you decide the best way to protect your family’s future.


Families Come in all Forms

If your family isn’t bound together by blood, marriage, adoption, or other legally recognized ties, you may need to take extra steps to insure your loved ones have the rights you want them to have, while you are living and after you are gone. A power of attorney document can ensure a loved one can visit you in the hospital or make healthcare decisions for you if you are incapacitated. A will can ensure that you property passes to the people you care about, even if you aren’t bound by blood or marriage. Families have changed, the law doesn’t always keep up. Community Law Office can help ensure you and your loved ones have the rights you want, no matter what your family looks like.