3 Misconceptions About Estate Planning in Iowa

Estate planning is meant to focus on organizing your estate in advance and managing disposal, in case the worst should happen. 

When you hear the words “estate planning,” you could think of elaborate mansions, huge stock portfolios, rare art pieces, fine jewelry and other pricey possessions like cars – all left by elderly, wealthy family members when they pass. However, estate planning isn’t just for the uber-rich. Anyone in Iowa can benefit from estate planning, so long as they have assets and people to leave those assets to. 

What is Estate Planning and Why is it Important? 

Do you want a say in what will happen to your possessions after you die? Do you want to prevent your family from fighting over your assets? If so, then you could benefit from an estate plan.

Effective estate planning can help you to manage your affairs during your lifetime and control the distribution of your wealth after death. An effective estate strategy can spell out your healthcare wishes and help ensure that they’re carried out – even if you are unable to communicate. It can even designate someone to help manage your financial affairs should you be unable to do so.

Estate Planning Tips from Johnson Wealth and Income Management

Estate planning is not just allocating your belongings: It is legacy planning, charitable distribution in case of future incapacity or death. When you are estate planning, you want to make sure everything is taken care of and nothing is left for the state to manage.  It is best to make sure that your estate is prepared and executed with the least amount of acrimony possible. 

A checklist for an estate plan can assist you, but in any event, should you and your loved ones like to begin the process, you should seek professional advice and assistance

Several important documents should be considered when future estate planning. This list should include:

  1. Will/trust
  2. Durable power of attorney
  3. Beneficiary designations
  4. Letter of intent
  5. Healthcare power of attorney
  6. Guardianship designations

Even if you aren’t familiar with all that needs to be done, working with our estate planning experts could help that stress diminish. But, to get started, here are three common misconceptions when it comes to estate planning in Iowa: 

  1. You Need to Be Wealthy for an Estate Plan

Wealth does not determine the importance of estate planning. When something tragic happens in life, anyone needs to prepare their assets whether it includes high dollar value or simply a sentimental value. 

  1. Estate Planning is for Later in Life

“Estate” refers to anything you own at legal age. Anything from a car, home, retirement accounts, other bank accounts, etc, despite the size or value. It doesn’t matter what age you are, because once you start your estate planning, you can make adjustments as your life and assets progress. No one wants to have to deal with the state deciding who receives your or your spouse’s assets. Your assets deserve your control.

  1. Probate is Avoidable in Iowa

Probate is the official way that an estate gets settled under the supervision of the court. The purpose of probate is to prevent fraud after someone’s death.  The best way to avoid having an estate go to probate in Iowa is by planning ahead while you are still alive.

In Iowa, alternatives to probate include:

  • Joint Tenancy. You can own property as joint tenants with the right of survivorship so that your property will automatically pass to the other owner at your death.
  • Use of Beneficiaries. You can also name beneficiaries on many kinds of property such as life insurance, IRA’s, bank accounts and CD’s. That way the property is distributed at the time of your death to the named beneficiary.
  • Estate Under $50,000. If your estate is under $50,000 and does not include solely owned real property, your beneficiaries or heirs can generally have a special affidavit prepared that tells third parties how to distribute your property.
  • Living Trusts. Living trusts are sometimes used to avoid probate. If a trust is used, your assets are transferred into the trust. When you die, the trustee distributes your property according to your directions in the trust.

Once again – The easiest way to avoid any probate is to plan and assign beneficiaries to all dynamics of your estate.

Final Considerations

There is more to estate planning than deciding how to divvy up your assets when you are no longer around. It’s also about making certain your family members/other beneficiaries are provided for and have access to your assets upon your death – with as little stress as possible. 

It might feel overwhelming to handle all these tasks, especially if your assets or family situation aren’t simple. Our team of professionals are here to help. 

At Johnson Wealth and Income Management, we understand your need to have a solid, professional and clear estate plan in place. With our financial advice, you can look forward to a more enjoyable and stress-free retirement – Knowing you and your family are taken care of, in case of any life-threatening event. Take the first step in creating your estate plan by reaching out to us here today. 


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