You have worked hard and built a life with your spouse, and you are interested in protecting the fruits of your labor. Let's call it your nest -- all of those things that you hold dear. You've heard that your spouse will get everything if you die without a will, so you ask the question. What's the big deal? Why do I need a will in Iowa if I am married?
This is a great question, and one that we hear often. And to answer it, we need to look at what happens if you DON'T have a will in Iowa when you pass away.
This is called intestacy. Under Iowa's intestacy statutes (Iowa Code §§ 633.211-633.226) when you die without a will your property will pass according to the law -- regardless of your wishes. The law provides that if you are married at the time of your death and have no children, or if the only children you have are with your surviving spouse, your surviving spouse receives 100% of your estate. This changes if you have children from a prior relationship. If you are unmarried and have children, your entire estate will go to those surviving children equally. There is a long complicated list of relatives that your property goes to if you do not have a spouse or children, and if none of those relatives survive you then your property goes to the State of Iowa.
So, why would you want a will when you're already married? There are a number of reasons.
There are a lot of great resources out there to help you explore estate planning, but nothing beats sitting down with an attorney and discussing your options. Ask us today how we can assist you in planning for your family's future and protecting your nest!
After a meeting, I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with a District Court Judge on Tuesday, which is something that is increasingly more difficult to do now that we do not have to physically be present in a specific county courthouse to file a document in that county.
EDMS, or the electronic data management system, has been great to allow me to operate my practice no matter where I am, no matter the time of day. I can file a pleading or document at 11:30 at night if I'd like, from the comfort of my couch, while wearing pajamas. Or at 7:15 while waiting for my kids to wake up in the morning. It works well.
However, this means that unless I have a hearing, I do not travel to the rural county courthouses. When I first started in the practice of law, my former boss brought me around every week to introduce me to people. I met judges, clerks of court, court reporters and court attendants, and importantly, colleagues. I have not chatted with many attorneys lately in the gallery of the courtroom or a hallway to find out about what they do outside of their lawyer jobs. I have not talked about how a judge's weekend went, or asked a clerk about their kids. It makes it more challenging to connect with people on more than a superficial level, and to know what to expect from the bench and opposing counsel when the day comes that you have a trial.
So if you are a new attorney in rural practice, the onus is on you to get out there and introduce yourself to people. Although I am not a new attorney, I find myself needing to get out and shake hands. To let people know that I am here. I believe it is a vital part of rural practice. Here's to networking!
It was a pleasant surprise to receive so much support in my first week from friends, family and colleagues. The visitors, emails, text messages, plant and flowers all made it clear that so many people are in my corner. I am definitely feeling grateful.
It is always my goal to make my clients feel that I am in their corner. If you need someone to help you navigate a difficult time and find your way to a new normal, that is what I do. If you need answers to your questions, I will help you find them. If you need to plan for your future (or that of your family or business), I can assist you with that. We all need a little support sometimes.
Everyone comes up with resolutions this time of year, memorializing their grand intentions to improve their lives or the world in some way. For 2016, it is looking like I do not need to resolve anything because I am going to be living it.
I am looking forward this year to setting my own pace, answering to myself and to my clients, and determining what my family's future holds. I am looking forward this year to building my presence in my community, where we have chosen to raise our children and make our home. I am looking forward this year to striking a balance in my life, and to watching my children grow and learn. I am looking forward this year to helping my clients find peace and move on with their lives, plan for their futures, and protect their families.
Coming from a firm, I have been given the incredible opportunity to observe and learn, to try my hand at many things, and to begin to narrow my focus to provide the best possible service to my clients. I have been extremely lucky to learn from amazing mentors, and I truly cannot wait to make this new beginning!
2016 is going to be a big year -- one for the books. Happy New Year!
A blawg about solo, general and rural practice.
Melissa S. Larson is a solo practitioner in Greenfield, Iowa. She has a general practice, and offers mediation and collaborative law services. Melissa is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, grand-daughter, cousin, niece, aunt, friend, attorney, photographer, writer, student, teacher, and wanderer. She loves Gilmore Girls and Dr. Pepper, and knows far too many song lyrics.
"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." -- Henry David Thoreau
"Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry." -- Jack Kerouac
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi
© 2019 Melissa S. Larson, P.C.