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Football

This upcoming weekend college football fans in Iowa will all seem to converge in the annual colossal clash of Hawkeyes versus Cyclones. (It’s a tradition that dates back to 1977 and has been extended through 2023.) Even the University of Northern Iowa fans tend to take sides in this match-up that has the energy of a statewide holiday.

cyclones vs. hawkeyes

Talking tailgating and reviewing the predictions got me thinking that although this game is huge in the ongoing (usually fun) banter battle between Iowa and ISU fans (and coaches), it represents just a small part of the season. Both teams endure grueling pre-season training and both have a long regular season ahead of them, not even counting any playoff games. Plus, a lot can happen over the course of a football team’s season. Star players can get hurt, strategies can change, and unexpected variables get tossed into the mix. But, great coaches have solid plans in place for when the game changes.

And, that’s why if you can understand even the basics of football you can understand estate planning!

Just like every football season eventually comes to an end, your (hopefully long and healthy) season will also come to a close. When it does, you need a special kind of playbook for the rest of your team…AKA an estate plan. In this analogy an experienced lawyer is the great coach who is going to help you put plans in place for when the game changes unexpectedly or the stadium lights turn off for the last time. And, just like so much can change over the course of a season, a lot will happen over the course of your lifetime. That’s where annual reviews and revisions after significant events fit in.

football stadium

While it is often difficult for people to ponder their unavoidable exit off their own fictitious field, preparation for what happens after your season is over can be one of the most comforting aspects of financial and legal planning.

The Main Players

Let’s take this analogy a bit further and put some estate planning terms into football speak.

  1. Estate – An estate is the whole playbook, containing the following documents: your will; healthcare power of attorney; financial power of attorney; disposition of personal property; and final disposition of remains. (Go more in depth with this blog post.)
  1. Will – A will deals primarily with the distribution of assets and care for minor children. You need to make certain the will is well drafted, solid, and can stand up in court. Keep in mind though, important assets such as a life insurance policy payouts, retirement assets, and investment accounts may well contain beneficiary designations that trump your will.
  1. Trust – You have lots of different options with this player. A trust can dictate how your assets will be dispersed, the timeline and manner in which they are dispersed, and who’s overseeing the process.

Mid-Season Starting Lineup Adjustments

Just as a coach may switch up who’s starting partway through the season, you’ll may need to make adjustments to your estate plan as things inevitably change over the course of your life. Big events like marriage, birth of a child/grandchild, moving to a different state, a large change in financial status, divorce, and other significant changes are good reason to review your “playbook.”

No ‘I’ in Team

Your loved ones and close friends are all a part of your team; part of being a strong team player is including them on the plays you’re making. Discuss important aspects of your estate plan with the people it involves to avoid any confusion or conflict when it comes times for them to carry out your wishes. For instance, if you have minor children (under age 18) you’re going to want to establish legal guardianship if the worst happens and you’re no longer around to care for them. You’ll want to discuss with your chosen guardians ahead of time to make sure they’re willing and available to carry out the responsibility.

referee

Final Score

There are probably at least a few more good football analogies I could tie into the conversation of why you need an estate plan, but the most important takeaway is that you never know when the game is going to change. So, you need to have your “playbook” written out ASAP. The best place to start is with my free, no obligation Estate Plan Questionnaire. You can also shoot me an email or give me a call at 515-371-6077 to discuss your situation (or football).

Gordon Fischer working hard to make sure a proper estate plan is in place for you and your family
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.

 

Winning an Oscar Award Academy Award leaves a legacy

What could the Oscars possibly have to do with the estate planning?

Actually, a lot. The most celebrated films – the Best Picture Award nominees – all feature themes of death and legacy. Certainly, in some films, this theme is more pronounced than in others. But in all the films, death and legacy are present, almost as if unseen actors just offstage.

In Fences, an ex-ballplayer openly mocks death, wryly declaring more than once, and always with a wink, “Death ain’t nothing but a fastball on the outside corner.” Later, confronted with a sudden tragedy, he throws open a window and shouts into a storm, daring death to take him on.

In Manchester by the Sea, the tragedy of premature deaths washes over the entire story. Like waves relentlessly pounding the beach during a storm, the characters cannot escape memories of tragic loss.

Hacksaw Ridge is of course about death in war. The protagonist struggles, with tremendous courage, to save lives during the horrific carnage of battle.

Arrival actually features a “canary in a coal mine.” In movie’s dénouement, the characters are given a whole new way of looking at life and death, at past and present.

We shouldn’t be the least bit surprised by any of this, of course. Great art so often wrestles with the meaning of death and legacy. Think about Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey, to Shakespeare’s plays, all the way to recent novels like Marilynne Robinson’s Lila and Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread.

In movies, characters so often face the riddles of death and legacy, because we do so in real life. How to give life meaning? How best to leave a legacy? Allow me to suggest that one very practical, and even relatively easy, way to secure your legacy is through estate planning.

For all of us, at some point, the credits will roll and the screen will go dark. Before that time comes, diligently plan so that your loved ones are protected and taken care of.

Perhaps most importantly for the question of legacy, through estate planning we can leave meaningful charitable gifts to our favorite charities. Without estate planning, it’s just not possible to make charitable gifts at death.

Do estate planning, do it right, so your testamentary gifts can help nonprofits for decades to come – quite a legacy for you. One might even say, proper estate planning, with a charitable component, is deserving of an award.

Now, pass the popcorn, and enjoy the show. Tomorrow, take some time to get started on your own legacy, by downloading my Estate Planning Questionnaire.

EstatePlanningSeminar-3

Monday, April 25, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Iowa City Senior Center

28 S. Linn Street

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 


– Why you need a will

– 7 most common estate planning mistakes

– 5 easy ways to super charge charitable giving

Please register by emailing gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com
or calling 319-356-5220


Thank you to sponsors:

Community Foundation of Johnson County

Elder Services, Inc.

Friends of the Animal Center Foundation

Friends of The Center

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.

Reach out any time — Gordon’s email is
gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com and his cell phone is 515-371-6077.

Come one, come all! 🙂

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Estate Planning Charitable Giving Seminar

Monday, March 28, 2:00 – 3:30 p.m.
Iowa City Senior Center
28 S. Linn Street

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC 


– Why you need a will

– 7 most common estate planning mistakes

– 5 easy ways to super charge charitable giving

Please register by emailing gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com
or calling 319-356-5220


Thank you to sponsors:

Community Foundation of Johnson County

Elder Services, Inc.

Friends of the Animal Center Foundation

Friends of The Center

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.

Reach out any time — Gordon’s email is
gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com and his cell phone is 515-371-6077.

Come one, come all! 🙂

 

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Gordon Fischer Law Firm32

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.

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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: 
gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com 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 gordon@gordonfischerlawfirm.com and phone is 515-371-6077.

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design

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.

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