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Advising Iowa And Nebraska Residents On Estate Planning

The elderly population is one of the fastest-growing segments of American society. Older Americans and their families who are dealing with significant life transitions may be confronting difficult financial, medical and family issues. At Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, in Council Bluffs, our attorneys are receptive to the economic and health issues facing the elderly and their families. Our elder law and estate planning practice addresses issues faced by the elderly, such as how your family will be cared for in the event of death, the delegation of responsibility for financial decisions and direction to health care providers in the event of incapacitation.

Understanding Estate Planning Documents

Our estate planning lawyers take a compassionate approach to assisting clients with the following:

  • Wills
  • Health care directives/living wills
  • Trusts
    • Special needs trusts
    • Medicaid trusts
    • Spendthrift trusts
    • Revocable living trusts
  • Guardianships
  • Conservatorships
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Probate of estates

We can help you evaluate your goals and determine a solution that will help you support your family and your legacy, including selecting a guardian.

Wills vs. Trusts

A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. A trust is a legal entity that holds assets for the benefit of another person or entity.

Wills and trusts both serve the same basic purpose: to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death. However, there are some critical differences between the two.

When you are new to estate planning, the terms “will” and “trust” can seem confusing. Here are some of the distinguishing features of these common estate planning documents.

  • Wills are relatively simple documents to create
  • Wills are subject to probate, a court-supervised process that ensures that your wishes are carried out
  • Wills can be revoked or amended at any time
  • Trusts are more complex documents to create than will
  • Trusts are not subject to probate, which can save time and money
  • Trusts can be more flexible than wills, as they can be designed to meet specific needs

Depending on your goals and circumstances, you may only need a will or a combination of a will and one or more trusts. The estate planning attorneys at Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, can help answer questions you have about which is the most appropriate choice.

Understanding When To Use A Will

A will is a good option if you have simple estate planning needs and want to keep your assets out of probate. A will is also a good option if you have minor children and want to name a guardian for them.

Knowing When A Trust Makes Sense

A trust is a good option if you have complex estate planning needs, such as avoiding probate, minimizing estate taxes or providing for a special needs child. A trust is also a good option if you want to give someone the power to manage your assets while you are alive, such as if you are incapacitated.

Common Estate Planning Questions

At Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP, our experienced team understands how complex estate planning can be. We also understand the value of information and education. As such, here are some of the most common questions we see, along with answers that can help you as you start your estate planning journey.

How can you disinherit a child in a will?

Disinheriting someone – like a biological child who expects to inherit – means cutting them out of the estate plan. You can do this just by leaving them nothing, although there is a chance that they will contest the will. They may claim you didn’t mean to exclude them and that it was an oversight. To avoid this, you may want to use a disinheritance clause to make your intentions clear.

Does remarrying mean my ex will no longer get part of the inheritance from my will?

If you get divorced, it’s important to update your will to remove your ex and include a new partner if you get remarried. That being said, there are some legal protections in place. Under Iowa law, many estate planning provisions are automatically revoked during a divorce. That said, some beneficiary designations are not – such as a life insurance policy or a payable on death account – so you need to update them independently.

What complications do blended families create for estate planning?

Blended families can create many estate planning complications. Disputes between adult children are common, especially if they are already relatively old when the families are blended and they do not feel like siblings. There can be many questions about who gets to make health care decisions for elderly parents, who have a right to financial assets, how family heirlooms should be addressed and more.

What happens to debt after you die?

Debt still gets paid off after you pass away, but your children do not inherit it. Instead, the person you choose as your estate executor can use money from your own estate to pay your debts.

An Estate Planning Lawyer Who Cares

Attorney John A. Flaten is the principal elder law attorney for the Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP with extensive knowledge of the estate planning process. Like the other lawyers at our firm, he is a skilled litigator committed to your welfare. Because of this commitment, our lawyers take a team approach to deliver professional and compassionate legal representation.

Start Your Planning Today

Our firm strives to be accessible to you at all times to ensure your needs are met. Call 712-309-3738 or use this form to contact our estate planning and elder law lawyer in Council Bluffs, and let us put our team to work for you.