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The September edition of “The Iowa Lawyer” is now out! Published by the Iowa State Bar Association, this month focused entirely on retirement-related topics. According to the ISBA, there are approximately 2,300 ISBA members who are 60 and older. And, in Iowa in general, people age 65 or older comprise 16.7% of the population. Retiring is a whole different stage in life that can come with newfound challenges as well as benefits. While geared toward Iowa attorneys, many of the insights are applicable in other industries. For instance, succession planning is important for all business owners! Similarly, retirement is a time when charitable giving often gets a boost.

Iowa Lawyer September 2018

GFLF’s piece focuses on how you can use retirement benefit plans to benefit the charities and causes you care about in a strategic, tax-wise way. This is super important for all Iowans to know (not just attorneys!). In the article we focus in on three important tax concepts:

  1. Inheritance as income
  2. Income in respect of a decedent
  3. Step-up in basis (also called, stepped up basis)

You  can read the full article by clicking here and scrolling to page 23.

Retire with a Reason

Any questions after reading? Feel to explore more on the topic in our other blog posts on the subject or contact GFLF at any time to discuss by email, at gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com, or by phone at 515-371-6077.

Irrevocable life insurance trust clipboard

The August 2018 issue of the Iowa State Bar Association’s The Iowa Lawyer magazine was recently published. This edition includes GFLF’s piece on how irrevocable life insurance trusts (ILITs for short) can be a valuable estate planning tool. While the magazine is an industry publication for lawyers, this information is also incredible useful for anyone with life insurance as an asset.

Iowa Lawyer August 2018 cover

This month’s ISBA publication also includes interesting pieces on:

So, put on your reading glasses, click here, and scroll to page 22 to learn more about the challenges life insurance can pose in estate planning and the major benefits of ILITs. I would love to hear your feedback on the piece either in the comments below, or via email at gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com. Also, we’re open to any suggestions you may have for specific topics you would like to read about related to GFLF’s core services

The March issue of The Iowa Lawyer magazine is out and I’m happy to say that includes Gordon Fischer Law Firm’s latest piece on how to account for digital assets in estate and business succession planning. Entitled “Down Low on the Download,” the article covers points including an overview of the Digital Assets Act, how digital assets should be considered in lawyers’ succession plans under Iowa Court Rule 39.18, and easy steps all Iowans can take to include digital assets in planning for the future. Click to page 9 to read more.

March Iowa Lawyer

Also in the Iowa State Bar Association’s publication are stories on local rules, a profile on Iowa Legal Aid’s new director, and a cover piece on a Vinton lawyer (who happens to share the Fischer last name) who tragically lost his office to a fire.

If you’re interested in reading GFLF’s previous published articles in past editions, click here to scan through the archives.

Iowa Court Rule 39.18

I regularly help and encourage my clients to complete business succession planning. So, I was immensely interested in fully understanding and helping to explain the Iowa Court Rule 39.18 which mandates some aspects of practice succession planning for active Iowa lawyers. I wrote extensively on the subject in a four-part series for The Iowa Lawyer (you can find links to all the articles here). But, with the deadline for compliance fast approaching it’s useful to have just the basic. The ISBA recently published my rundown of nothing but the essential in The Iowa Lawyer Weeklyand for convenience I’m publishing it here as well.


This short article directly informs every Iowa private practitioner precisely what s/he needs to know about new Iowa Court Rule 39.18. Under the Iowa Court Rule 39.18, Iowa-licensed lawyers must take steps to prepare for their own disability or death. New questions that are related to Rule 39.18 compliance will be included on the Iowa Client Security Commission 2018 Client Security Reports to be filed via the Iowa Office of Professional Regulation between Dec. 26, 2018 and March 10, 2018 without penalty.

Two Tiers

Iowa Court Rule 39.18 is divided into two tiers; the first tier is mandatory; the second tier is optional. The second, optional tier is very helpful, and I’d urge every Iowa layer to seriously look at implementing it. Considering that I write this in mid-December, however, it may be wise for Iowa lawyers to make certain they are in full compliance with the mandatory provisions, and give the optional provisions more full and careful consideration in 2018. Since this article is about just the basics, I’m just going to discuss only the mandatory provisions of Iowa Court Rule 39.18.

planner on desk next to computer

Choose Designee and Custodian

Every Iowa attorney in private practice must choose and identify both a designated representative and a custodian. The term designee representative(s) is defined, while the term custodian is not. The designated representative (hereinafter “designee”) must be either an:

  1. active Iowa attorney in good standing;
  2. Iowa law firm that includes Iowa attorneys in good standing (including the attorney’s own firm); or
  3. qualified attorney-servicing association.

A “qualified attorney-servicing association” is a bar association, all or part of whose members are admitted to practice law in the state of Iowa; a company authorized to sell attorneys professional liability insurance in Iowa; or an Iowa bank with trust powers issued by the Iowa Division of Banking.

(Important note: Earlier this month The Iowa State Bar Association Board of Governors authorized The ISBA to serve as a qualified attorney servicing association.) Again, the term “custodian” in not defined. The custodian can be anyone – a fellow lawyer, friend, spouse, administrative assistant, whomever.

Clients Lists and Client Files

Additionally, every Iowa attorney in private practice is responsible for the following: (1) maintaining a current list of active clients in a location accessible by the designee; (2) identifying the custodian to the designee; and (3) identifying the locations of the client list, electronic and paper files, records, passwords, and any other security protocols required to access the electronic files and records for the custodian and, ultimately, for the designee.

Client list Iowa Court Rule 39.18 files

Death or Disability

Iowa Court Rule 39.18 kicks into action only in two extreme circumstances: your death or your disability (a disability so severe you can no longer practice law, whether temporarily or permanently). Upon your death or disability, your designee is given broad authority, including the right to review client files (whether paper or electronic or both), notify each client of your death or disability, serve as a successor signatory for any client trust accounts, prepare final trust accountings for clients, make trust account disbursements, properly dispose of inactive files, and arrange for storage of files and trust account records. Also, the designee is authorized to access passwords and other security protocols required to access electronic files and records. Finally, as a “catch all” provision, the designee may determine whether there is need for other immediate action to protect the interests of clients.

Read More About Iowa Court Rule 39.18

If you would like to read deeper beyond these basics, click to the September through December 2017 issues of The Iowa Lawyer from the online archives to read our four-part series. In the series, all the elements (mandatory and supplementary) of Iowa Court Rule 39.18 are reviewed and explained in detail.

There is also a list of additional resources that can be found here. If you’re an active lawyer in Iowa help your fellow counselors out and share this piece with them so they will be prepared not only for the Iowa Client Security Commission 2018 Client Security Reports, but in the off chance of unexpected death or a disability. If you have any questions as you set your plans in place contact me by email or phone (515-371-6077).

The December/January issue of The Iowa Lawyer magazine is out! Click here and scroll to page 13 to read the final piece in my four-part series on the practical application of Iowa’s new succession planning rule for lawyers and law firms. “Giving for good: Practical application of Iowa Court Rule 39.18” covers how the rule may well significantly increase charitable giving by Iowa attorneys through both business succession planning and personal estate planning.

Iowa Court Rule December Article

While the series is targeted toward Iowa lawyers, the advice throughout can be applicable to individuals in need of personal estate planning as well as business owners in need of business succession plan. Click on the following links to read the past articles related to the Rule.

  1. September issue: overview of Iowa’s new succession planning rule and the importance of personal estate planning as well
  2. October issue: 8 simple steps for a successful business succession
  3. November issue: benefits of a supplemental plan

This month’s Iowa State Bar Association publication also includes features on: issues and roles of startups and in-house counsel; Larry Johnson Jr., the new State Public Defender; cover story on intellectual property lawyer, Brandon Clark; periodic cost-of living adjustments for indigent defense compensation; data on the realities of attracting young attorneys to the state’s small towns; and the Kids First Law Center, among other great pieces.

If you would like to discuss any questions or concerns related to personal estate planning or a succession plan for your business (including law firms), don’t hesitate to contact me.

Two people reading The Iowa Lawyer on tablet and phone

Hot off the press is Volume 77 Number 9 October 2017 edition of The Iowa Lawyer, published by the Iowa State Bar Association. Inside the cover (featuring a great piece on the Iowa Court of Appeals) is my second article in a series of four regarding Iowa Court Rule 39.18. The Rule involves succession planning for solo and private legal practitioners. However, while targeted to lawyers, the eight simple steps for a successful business succession are also applicable to business owners and entrepreneurs in other industries as well.

Click here or on the image below and scroll to page 14 to give it a read.

The Iowa Lawyer October 2017

Any questions after reading? 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.

Power of attorney signing

The September issue of The Iowa Lawyer magazine is out, including my piece on the practical application of Iowa’s new succession planning rule for lawyers and law firms. The article is part of a series of four that will run in subsequent issues. This month’s ISBA publication also includes features on: State Court Administrator David Boyd, who is retiring after 40 years with the Iowa Judicial Branch; the opioid epidemic in the legal profession; challenging excessive court fees in probate; and, tips for pre-mediation planning.

Iowa Lawyer front of magazine

The Iowa Lawyer is the Iowa State Bar Association’s official publication. The magazine features information on legal developments, legislative news, Bar history, “views from the bench,” profiles of legal community leaders, and ISBA events.

If you would like to read my article, click here and scroll to page 18. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the piece either in the comments below, or via email at gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com.

The Iowa Lawyer

The April 2017 issue of The Iowa Lawyer is out and I’m proud to say my article, “How can you give more to your favorite charity? Consider gifts of stock!” is included. Scroll to page 11 for info that’s helpful on taxes, just in time for Tax Day.

Tax tips just in time for Tax Day

The Iowa Lawyer magazine is The Iowa State Bar Association’s official publication. The magazine features information on legal developments, legislative news, bar history, views from the bench, profiles of legal community leaders, and ISBA events.

Any questions after reading? Feel free to contact me any time to discuss how to maximize the potential of appreciated, long-term, publicly-traded stock. 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.