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Sure, reading about succession planning for attorneys mandated by Iowa Court Rule 39.18 isn’t the most exciting news of the day, but it is certainly is important which is why you should scroll to page 8 of this month’s edition of The Iowa Lawyer. If you’re not an attorney, fear not. The article covers actions that are wise for all business owners and independent professional advisors to consider in their business succession planning. For example the advice that: “Having a detailed supplemental plan should bring you peace of mind, and also peace of mind to your family and your firm’s employees. A supplemental plan can show your clients you care to the utmost about their well-being.”

This article is the third in a series of four for the Iowa State Bar Association publication. You can find info on the first article, here and the second, on the eight simple steps for a successful business succession, here.

Click here or on the image below to read “Supplemental plan: Practical application of Iowa Court Rule 39.18.”

The Iowa Lawyer magazine cover November 2017

Questions? Comments? Feel the urge to get started on your much needed business succession plan? Feel free to contact me any time to discuss. I offer a one-hour free consultation, without any obligation. I can be reached any time at my email, gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com, or by phone at 515-371-6077.

Discussion of will and estate plan

Yes, YOU need a will. If you don’t have a will, it can cost your family and friends not only a lot of time and money, but also lots of anxiety and even heartache.

Here are four major (and certainly not the only) reasons wills are one of the most essential estate planning documents that you should most definitely have.

#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. In some situations, even who will get to raise your children.

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

You read that right. Without this essential estate planning document, the court 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 minor children. This can ensure 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.

However, if you have this ever important document, it will name an executor who will be responsible for carrying out all of your final wishes, pay your bills, and distribute your assets just as you wanted.

Couple sitting on bench talking about wills

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

If you die without a will, your estate assets—your house, savings, automobiles, property—will pass to your heirs under Iowa’s statute. This excludes you from the enormous potential to do good by donating charitable gifts to your favorite nonprofits in your will. Testamentary gifts can help ensure causes you care about are supported well into the future.


Do you have a will? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

For Iowans looking for a place to start their estate planning, check out my estate plan questionnaire. It’s free, and provided to you without any obligation. I’m also happy to discuss your individual situation to help determine what estate planning tools are best for you. Reach out via email or phone at any time.

Winning an Oscar Award Academy Award leaves a legacy

I, along with all of you, just watched the totally wild end of Oscars 2017. Here are five legal lessons you can take away from this debacle.

(1) Absolutely, positively ANYTHING can happen at ANY time. So, be smart, plan ahead, and secure your future and your family’s future. A major way to do that is through estate planning.

(2) Planning is paramount. Somewhere along the line, protocols weren’t met, and a wrong envelope was handed out at the wrong time. Proper planning would have — SHOULD HAVE — prevented that.

(3) Double check EVERYTHING. Are you SURE your will is updated? Are you POSITIVE your estate planning documents are still in that safety deposit box, and your kids have access? Are you CERTAIN you updated your estate planning documents after your third kid was born? Go see your estate planning lawyer. 

(4) Did Warren Beatty seem a bit confused? He and his family might consider a medical checkup, and might also consider a Healthcare Power of Attorney. I explain all about healthcare PoAs and their importance here: LINK. And I’m not picking on Warren, I’m really not. A Healthcare PoA is good for everyone. Seriously, everyone should strongly consider a Healthcare PoA.

(5) Download my Estate Planning Questionnaire. The Oscars may end in total confusion, but you shouldn’t. The Estate Planning Questionnaire will ensure a smooth and predictable ending, just like you want.