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What the Yale Bulldogs know . . . .

The unexpected can happen.

Last time the Yale Bulldogs were in NCAA tournament, I wasn’t even born. And yet, just moments ago, Yale pulled off a stunning first-round upset.

Again, the unexpected can happen.

We don’t like to think about shocks in terms of life and death. But a mordant and bad joke among estate planners is that “people don’t always die when they’re supposed to.” Indeed, we all know people that passed away well before their time.

Nothing is promised to anyone. And if you should die without a will, it can cost your family and friends a lot of time, a lot of money, and lots of anxiety and even heartache.

There are at least three (and ½!) major reasons you need a will.

#1 Without a will, probate courts and the Iowa Legislature decide everything about your estate.

If you die without a will, you are leaving it up to the legislature/courts to decide who will receive your property. Or, even, who will get to raise your children.

#2 Without a will, you cannot choose a guardian for your children.

If you die without a will, the courts will choose guardians for your children. One of the most important aspects of a will is that it allows you to designate who will be the guardian for your children. This can ensure that your children are cared for by the person that you want, not who the court chooses for you.

#3 Without a will, the probate court will choose your estate’s executor.

If you die without a will, the probate court is forced to name an executor. The executor of your estate handles tasks like paying your creditors and distributing the rest of your assets to your heirs. Of course, if the probate court has to pick who will be your estate’s executor, there is always a possibility that you would not have approved of that person if you had been alive.

If you have a will, it will name an executor who will carry out all of your final wishes, pay your bills, and distribute your assets just as you wanted.

#3½ Without a will, you can’t give your favorite nonprofits gifts from your estate.

If you die without a will, your estate assets — your house, savings, and so on — will pass to your heirs under Iowa’s statute. If you have a will, you can include gifts to your favorite nonprofits and see that these nonprofits are helped for many years to come

Take control of your future. You can start by downloading my estate planning questionnaire, simply click here.


Estate Planning and Charitable Giving: The Basics

A seminar presented by Gordon Fischer Law Firm, P.C.
When: Monday, January 25, 2016 from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: Iowa City Senior Center, 28 S. Linn Street, Iowa City, Room 208

–Free and open to the public– 

Gordon Fischer will lead the group in three discussions:

  • Why you need a will and estate plan
  • 7 most common estate-planning mistakes
  • 5 easy ways to super charge your charitable giving

Please register by simply emailing name(s) to: or by calling 319-356-5220

A big shout out and thank you to the following sponsors:

Gordon Fischer is an Iowa lawyer with more than 20 years experience. The mission of his law firm is to promote and maximize charitable giving in Iowa. Reach out any time — email is and phone is 515-371-6077.



40% off! If this sign were up at your favorite store, it would definitely get your attention.

Charitable gifts made during lifetime are generally preferable to charitable gifts made by will, for fairly simple tax reasons.

A charitable bequest is deductible for federal estate tax purposes, but is not deductible for income tax purposes.

A gift made during lifetime is out of the donor’s estate for estate tax purposes, but also provides the donor with a deduction for income tax purposes.

Thus, for donors in 40% combined federal-state income bracket, a charitable gift during lifetime is 40% less expensive than a similar gift during will.