25 days of giving - decemer 2018

It’s not a cheese, wine, or bath products advent calendar…but beginning December 1 through Christmas Day the GoFisch blog will feature a new piece related to giving. ‘Tis the season for giving and the “25 Days” posts will feature information important for both nonprofit executives and donors.

What I want to know is: what questions about charitable giving do you have? From specific to general, email them to me at Gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com.

Remember, no matter what winter holiday you celebrate, all have the power to make a positive impact through charitable giving!

 

thanksgiving thankful

I would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. I hope that you have the opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones. I’ve taken a much needed moment this holiday to take a step back and think about all GFLF has to be thankful for. I owe so much to my clients, friends, and family who have helped make this year a successful one.

grateful quote

Here are just a few of the things GFLF has to be exceedingly grateful for:

But, really, this is a short list—the tip of the turkey, if you will—of what GFLF is perpetually thankful for.

Wishing you full bellies and hearts today,

Gordon Fischer

Flag in field with sun

“True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.” -Arthur Ashe

On Veterans Day and every day, we at Gordon Fischer Law Firm want to say a heartfelt thanks for our veterans’ sacrifice and service. We work with many veterans on estate planning and in nonprofit-related work, and it’s always an honor. There are not enough “thank you’s” in the world to express our gratitude for what you have done for our country. We would also like to extend this sentiment to first responders as well—police, fire, and EMS personnel.

 

Veterans Day flags

As a veteran your story is important. Your legacy is important. To preserve that legacy of strength and service, you need an estate plan to ensure your property and assets are distributed to your loved ones and favorite charities in accordance with your wishes.

So, in an attempt to express our gratitude we would like to offer 25% off the cost of an estate plan package to all Iowan active duty or retired service members and first responders. The discount will be honored through 11/30/2018. Contact GFLF via email or by phone (515-371-6077) to discuss your estate planning needs.

What does an Estate Plan include?

There are six documents that should be part of most everyone’s estate plan.

  1. Estate planning questionnaire
  2. Will
  3. Power of attorney for health care
  4. Power of attorney for finances
  5. Disposition of personal property
  6. Disposition of final remains

You should keep these documents updated and current. (Here are a few common “big” events that necessitate estate plan revisions.) Also, don’t forget about assets with your beneficiary designations. For most Iowans, that’s good – six documents, keeping them current, and also remembering about those assets with beneficiary designations.

 

American flag on chair

Cost of an Estate Plan

Because I want every Iowan to have an up-to-date estate plan I’m very transparent with the cost of an estate plan that that takes into full consideration YOUR situation. (This is why you need an experienced estate planner to draft your documents.) Speaking very generally, an estate plan from my Firm usually costs a single person about $790, and a family about $990. So, with this Veterans Day discount, that’s a saving of about $197.50 for singletons to $247.50 for a family.

Estate Planning Process

I write about my process at length, but it’s just five steps! Seriously, it’s not that painful. My clients report back to me that they have such relief and peace of mind when it’s completed.

Contact

If you’ve been making excuses or have an extremely outdated estate plan now’s the time to check it off your list (and get a discount while doing so!).

How to get started? Contact me by the end of the month (11/30) via email (gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com) or phone (515-371-6077) and fill out my free Estate Plan Questionnaire.


DISCLAIMERS

The “Veterans Day discount” is only applicable for estate plans created by active or retired veterans and first responders (and their spouses). Availability of the discount ends after November 30, 2018 at which point prospective client must have contacted Gordon Fischer Law Firm and indicated an intention to make an estate plan.
Veterans Day discount merely relates to pricing and in no way creates an attorney-client relationship, nor any other kind of professional relationship. The Veterans Day discount does not create a contract or agreement of any kind.
Gordon Fischer Law Firm, P.C. retains full and total discretion as to who it chooses to serve as clients and why. Gordon Fischer Law Firm, P.C. retains the right to refuse service to anyone it so chooses.
The Veterans Day discount may not apply to individuals or families with a net worth of more than $1 million dollars. (You still need an estate plan, very much so, but it necessarily needs to be more “complex” to adequately account for all assets.).
happy halloween

The December holidays don’t need to be the only time of the year that you give charitably! Halloween is the perfect excuse to do something sweet in the spirit of the spooky. Let’s be honest, most years you have way too much leftover candy. You never want to leave any trick-or-treaters empty bucketed. Combine that with the haul the kiddos heave home and it’s a recipe for a cavity (and some extra pounds). Satisfy your sweet tooth and then do something good with your candy!

Halloween pumpkin

This Halloween, I challenge you to make a simple, but significant donation of un-opened, wrapped candy in lieu of an unnecessary sugar rush. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Treats for Troops

Treats for Troops, run by 501(c)(3) Soldiers’ Angels, collaborates with businesses (like dentist offices!) to be candy collection centers. The treats are then collected and distributed to soldiers stationed overseas, wounded service personnel, and veterans. By searching for a drop-off site near me, I found two within a reasonable distance.

Ronald McDonald House

The Ronald McDonald House does amazing work assisting families of sick children by providing a comfortable, affordable place to stay during treatment as well as good food (anything is better than hospital food!). There’s a local Ronald McDonald House here in Iowa City; contact them about dropping off your Halloween candy to make some kiddos (who may not have been able to trick-or-treat) very happy.

Operation Gratitude

Similar to Treats for Troops, Operation Gratitude compiles and sends care packages to first responders in the U.S. and service personnel stationed overseas. The organization’s mission is simple, but significant: to put a smile on soldiers’ faces. Along with donations of leftover candy, you can send encouraging letters, postcards, and pictures. Drop-off locations can be located on their map.

Pay attention to their do’s and don’ts, including the instruction to “fill out and submit an online Donation Form with the total pounds of candy and any additional donated items. You will receive an email confirmation with a printable barcode to include in your package, along with shipping instructions.” The organization needs your candy shipped by 11/9!

buckets with candy

What other ideas do you have for donating leftover, extra candy? Share in the comments or let us know on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

radio studio

On Halloween (10/31) my voice will be making a radio appearance on KCJJ 1630 AM‘s “Senior Talk” program hosted by Rex Brandstatter! We’ll be talking on the importance of estate planning for seniors, as well as the need-to-know information that ALL Iowans should know about creating a successful, quality plan for the future.

The program starts at 12:10 p.m. and will last for about 30 minutes. If you won’t be around a radio over the noon hour on 10/31, don’t worry as you can listen live via KCJJ’s YouTube channel. Plus, the program will be archived on YouTube after the show!

Hopefully my conversation will Rex will inspire you (and all of your family members and friends) to send those estate planning excuses to the graveyard. (Sorry, I had to get at least one spooky pun in there!) One of the best ways to get started on my five-step estate planning process is with the easy, free Estate Planning Questionnaire.

halloween confetti

In the spirit of Halloween next week, let’s take a break from scary estate planning excuses, probate fees, and haunting nonprofit actions and have some fun. Whether you’re an attorney, work with the law in other ways, or are just a fan of legal puns, these last minute Halloween costumes are for you!

Exhibit A

This costume goes in the “oh shoot I just got invited to a Halloween party tonight” category. Be an evidence exhibit by simply donning a white shirt, and pinning a piece of red paper with “Exhibit A” in large black letters on it! It’s old-school (pre-Internet filing days) and excessively easy.

https://www.gordonfischerlawfirm.com/nonprofit-scariest-things/ Law-suit  

Similar to the exhibit A costume, you can totally fashion this more formal look out of a suit you already have. Wear a suit, write the word “law” on a piece of paper and hang it around your neck. Get it? Law-suit! Word of caution: you may get eye rolls, smiles, and chuckles at your look.

A salt & battery 

In need of a couples costume? Take on a couple of classic tort claims of assault and battery that are often paired together. Throw together a salt shaker look by wearing a white shirt with a black “s” on the front and a tin foil hat. Pair it with your crafty partner who can create something that looks like a battery and voila!

halloween on chalkboard

Voir Deer

Animals tend to be a safe pick for adult Halloween costumes, but this one puts a legal spin on a deer costume. Assemble an assortment of brown clothing and get some cute ears that make you look like a woodland deer. Have a friend write the word “voir” on your forehead. Boom. You’re voir dire! You’ll have a great time explaining jury selection to everyone who is confused by your choice of apparel.

What law-related Halloween costumes have you imagined? Share them in the comments below or with GFLF on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Gordon Fischer speaking at event

One aspect of running my own firm that I love is getting out and teaching groups of people. Just like mission, my presentations center on maximizing charitable giving. Be it through estate planning education, nonprofit board training, or sharing tools and resources for professional advisors, I’m always open to speaking at different organizations and events across the state of Iowa.

Gordon Fischer speaking at event

Here’s an example of a presentation I gave in a workshop open to the public, entitled “Basics of Estate Planning.” This presentation on clauses to include in an executive’s contract was focused toward a different audience—nonprofit employers. And just in case those samples weren’t enough, here’s a presentation I gave to my fellow estate planners on effectively including digital assets in plans. Of course, I modify my content so it’s applicable to the event, organization, and audience.

So, if you’re in need of a speaker on any topic related to my core services, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com or give me a call at 515-371-6077 to discuss your upcoming event and potential speaking topics.

feedbackk survey

I could use your opinions! As a lawyer who strives to maximize charitable giving in Iowa (the mission of Gordon Fischer Law Firm), estate plans are a regular part of my job. But, for most people, estate planning isn’t a normal part of the day-to-day. So, I am doing research on how and why people obtain estate plans and would appreciate if you could take three minutes (or less!) to share your thoughts and experiences with me. The goal of this survey is to gather candid feedback and varying perspectives on this topic. Note that the survey is completely anonymous and confidential.

Click here to take the short survey.

 

goodbye blue

It’s the saddest day of the year. You all know what I am talking about: the last day of National Estate Planning Awareness Week.

Here in Iowa, the weather this weekend was bright and shiny in that perfect fall day kind of way. Almost as if the universe itself was celebrating NEPAW 2018.

All good things come to an end, we sure had fun, didn’t we? We took a deep dive into the history of estate planning itself. Estate planning, in some form or another, has been an important aspect of societies in the world for hundreds and hundreds of years. In almost every society folks wanted to pass along their assets to the people they care about and want to provide for.

We were reminded of the importance of powers of attorney. In particular, everyone should have a power of attorney for health care, a legal instrument that allows you to select the person that you want to make health care decisions for you, if and when you become unable to make such decisions for yourself.

We delved into a hypothetical situation that is fairly improbable (but it can and does happen) regarding a death of a buyer or seller during sales of real estate.

 

The ultimate estate planning checklist makes it easy to visualize your completion rate of the important documents and estate plan-related tasks. It’s an easy-to-read, handy dandy cheat sheet of items to accomplish to get you from zero to hero in estate planning world.

While we’ll have to wait a whole year until the next National Estate Planning Awareness Week, let’s always choose to be aware of the importance of estate planning regardless of the day. With a quality estate plan crafted by an experienced lawyer, every single day of our lives can be like a day of National Estate Planning Awareness Week!

Here are three things you can do to keep the spirit of National Estate Planning Awareness Week alive regardless of the date on the calendar:

  1. If you don’t yet have an estate plan, get one. NOW. Filling out my Estate Plan Questionnaire is a great and easy way to start the process.
  2. Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, and others, about your own estate planning experiences. If it was easier and less expensive than you thought it might be, share that info. If having six basic documents, brought you great piece of mind, tell them so.
  3. Subscribe to my free e-newsletter, GoFisch, delivered to your inbox every month. It’s chock full of helpful information and may be the least boring legal newsletter ever.

I’d love to talk with you (even if you’re not as disappointed to see National Estate Planning Awareness Week pass as I am). Contact me by phone or email at any time to discuss your estate planning situation and goals.

voting booth

We’re taking a momentary break from learning the ins and outs of estate planning, how to form a successful, compliant nonprofit, and how to practice tax-wise charitable giving for an important message brought to you by democracy…go vote! The 2018 Midterm Election will be held November 6, 2018. This year’s ballot includes races for Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, State Auditor, Secretary of Agriculture, the four Congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, all 100 seats of the Iowa House of Representatives, and 25 of the 50 seats in the Iowa Senate.

Regardless of where you fall on the political party affiliation spectrum, it’s so important to practice your right to vote. Midterm elections tend to have a lower turnout (around 40% of the population) compared with presidential election years (around 50-60% of the population), and we need to increase those percentages if we want accurate representation in government. To make voting in Iowa as easy as possible, I’ve compiled a list of useful information. Share it with your friends, family, and colleagues and encourage them to cast their ballot!

Voter Ready

What’s the deadline to register to vote?

Register to vote by October 27! If you miss the registration deadline, you can register in person at your polling place on Election Day.

I’m unsure if I’m registered to vote in Iowa. How do I check?

Search your status here.

Speaking of polling place, where do I vote?

Find your polling place by entering your zip code here. (The polling place data on the Iowa Secretary of State page is for regularly scheduled Primary, General, School and City Elections. The data is provided by county auditors through the statewide voter registration database.)

Can I vote early or absentee?

register early to vote

Definitely! There are three ways to vote by absentee ballot if you are registered to vote in Iowa.

  1. Absentee ballot by mail
  2. Absentee ballot in person at county auditor’s office
  3. Absentee ballot at a satellite voting location

Iowans living overseas can register to vote and request an absentee ballot in one step.

I just moved to Iowa. Can I vote?

If you have moved to Iowa from another state or moved to a different county in Iowa, pre-register to vote in your new county 10 days before general elections. (It’s 11 days before all other elections.) If you miss the pre-registration deadline, Election Day registration is available.

I’m a college student in Iowa from another state? Can I vote in Iowa?

As a college student, you may choose to register to vote at your home address or at your college address. You can’t register to vote at both. To pre-register to vote, complete a voter registration form and return it to your county auditor’s office.

What about voters with disabilities?

If you or a family member need special assistance to vote, you have the right to have an accessible voting location, assistance to vote and accessible voting equipment. Here’s a helpful brochure on what you need to know.

Can an Iowan still vote if they have a guardian or conservator?

Yes, persons with a guardian or conservator can still vote, unless a judge has specifically said in a court ruling that they may not vote.

Do I need an ID to vote?

You will be asked to show one of the following at your polling place:

  • Iowa Driver’s License
  • Iowa Non-Operator’s ID
  • U.S. Passport
  • Military ID
  • Veteran’s ID
  • Voter ID Card

If you don’t have any of those, that’s OK. You may sign an oath verifying your identity and then cast a regular ballot.

What if I need help getting to my polling place?

Rideshare services Uber and Lyft are both offering free rides to polling places on November 6!

Questions? Feel free to contact me! Any information you think other readers should know? Share them in the comments below!