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Estate Planning Lawyers in Des Moines

Helping Iowa Families Preserve a Lasting Legacy

Are you concerned about how your life and legacy will impact others after you pass away? Do you want to help secure the welfare of the people who are most important to you after your death? If so, you should work with an experienced Des Moines estate planning attorney from Hope Law Firm. Our legal team has the experience and knowledge to help you create a comprehensive estate plan that allows you to exercise the authority necessary to ensure your property and assets end up where you intend them to be upon your death.

Your estate planning attorney has experience is fashioning an effective estate plan using legal instruments such as:

  • Wills
  • Trusts
  • Powers of attorney
  • Advanced medical directives

To learn more about the benefits of an estate plan, call us at (515) 298-5056 today.

Legal Services Regarding Wills

The best evidence of a person’s intent often is what they tell someone their intent is. However, testimony isn’t perfect evidence. This is especially true when a person is not alive to elaborate on their intent.

In probate proceedings, courts rely on the terms of a person’s valid Last Will and Testament as the next best thing to their live testimony for proving their intent. When a person reduces their final wishes to a legally valid Will, it is considered to be an authoritative source evidencing what is called their “testamentary intent.” In contrast, when a person does not leave behind a valid Will, they are deemed to have died “intestate.”

If you want to ensure that your property and assets end up where you intend them to be after you pass away, your estate planning attorney will use your Will as a foundational document for demonstrating your testamentary intent.

Our legal services concerning Wills include:

  • Drafting Will provisions
  • Reviewing and interpreting existing Wills
  • Revoking old Wills
  • Amending Will provisions
  • Gifting real estate under a Will
  • Gifting personal property under a Will

Iowa Probate Issues

Generally, the specific probate laws of a state govern how the remaining property of a decedent will be distributed upon their death. Probate laws give significant weight to the final wishes of the decedent when it comes to figuring out what to do with their assets when they pass away.

During probate matters, the court will appoint a person to act on behalf of the decedent before the court in administrating their estate. Under Iowa Code § 633.3, when the court appoints someone to administer an intestate estate, they are known as an “administrator.” Similarly, when the court appoints a person to represent a testate estate, they are called an “executor.”

The court supervises the administration of the decedent’s estate by an administrator or executor. Administrators must dispose of the decedent’s assets according to Iowa law on intestate succession. Executors are obligated to administer the decedent’s property according to their Will and Iowa probate laws.

At Hope Law Firm, our experienced estate planning attorneys in Des Moines can work with you regarding the following probate matters:

  • Appointing administrators and executors
  • Intestate succession
  • Testamentary estate administration
  • Duties of administrators and executors
  • Resolving claims between beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate
  • Handling claims from the decedent’s creditors

However, probate proceedings determine how to dispose of the decedent’s property and assets according to rules under the Iowa Probate Code. Even when a valid Will is involved, rules of construction and interpretation dictate how the court will ultimately resolve ambiguous terms in someone’s Will.

To avoid these risks, an effective estate plan could utilize trusts in conjunction with your Will to give you greater control over your estate.

Utilizing Trusts

Competing claims between the decedent’s beneficiaries and creditors regarding their right to their assets often come up during the probate process. This can be expensive for all interested parties, whether they are your intended beneficiaries, creditors, or people trying to take advantage of legal loopholes and factual obscurities in your case. However, when you have a comprehensive estate plan, the risks associated with probate proceedings can be avoided using trusts.

A trust is a legal relationship where someone—referred to as a “trustor”—places property and assets—known as “trust property”—in the care and control of another person—called a “trustee”—for the benefit of another. As a result, the trust property is no longer considered part of the trustor’s estate and is not subject to probate proceedings.

An estate plan that implements trusts has the advantage of protecting assets from creditor’s claims and liabilities of the decedent’s estate. At Hope Law Firm, our legal team can advise you about the benefits of trusts, such as:

  • Creating trusts
  • Irrevocable trusts
  • Living trusts
  • Spendthrift trusts
  • Discretionary trusts
  • Medicaid trusts
  • Special needs trusts

Contact Hope Law Firm to Consult Our Estate Planning Attorneys in Des Moines

At the Hope Law Firm, we can guide you through each of the estate planning processes to make sure your estate plan reflects your personal vision of how your property and wealth will benefit your loved ones after your days have ended. The benefits of a comprehensive estate plan are not restricted to the extremely wealthy. No matter how large your estate ultimately is, your estate plan will provide you with greater control over the wealth you acquired throughout your life.

Please call Hope Law Firm at (515) 298-5056 or contact us online to schedule an appointment regarding your wishes and goals for your estate.

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