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Des Moines Law Blog

Is it possible to keep your estate out of probate court?

If you are currently planning your estate in Iowa, now is the time to take steps to prevent your estate from ending up in probate, which can be a lengthy and costly process. According to The Motley Fool, what you do now will determine if probate is going to happen or not. You have to begin by consulting with professionals who can guide and help you with staying within legal limits and managing your finances and real property properly. 

Beyond working with the right people to set up your estate, you can also use specific legal structures to create an estate plan that is less likely to end up in probate. For example, for property, you could establish joint ownership. Upon your death, the property would simply transfer to the other owner. You should also make use of accounts where you can add a beneficiary. This will allow them to also be transferred upon your death. 

Rushing to divorce in the new year can lead to difficulties

A new year means a chance to say goodbye to the old and prepare for the new. For many couples in the Des Moines area, it is also a chance for them to leave their marriages behind. According to CNN.com, January is the month when divorce filings increase. 

The holidays are over. Many people are in a rush to divorce their partners. In their haste, they do not always consider the impact of their actions. 

What is legal separation?

While not every state recognizes legal separation, Iowa does. This is one of your options if you and your spouse no longer wish to be married. The other options are divorce or dissolution. It is important that you make an informed decision, so learning more about your options can help you to know if legal separation is the best choice for you.

Iowa Legal Aid explains that legal separation is a step to take before filing for divorce. It offers you the chance to work out the situation of living apart before you head to court and before drawing up your divorce agreement. You can see how you will work out support of the children, visitation issues, housing and other similar details. It can give you insight into what to expect when you actually file for divorce.

Iowa is an equitable distribution state. What does this mean?

During your marriage, you may not have given a second thought to whether you own something with your spouse. Now that your marriage is ending and you face divorce, the question of who owns what assets may become a preoccupation. Figuring out what property belongs to you and what belongs to the marital estate can be a challenge.

You may already know that Iowa is an equitable distribution state, but you may not be sure what that means. Understanding how a court will divide your property may help you in preparing to go to court or for negotiations if you and your spouse decide not to let the court resolve your property division issues for you.

What does guardianship mean?

If you have a loved one who is unable to make decisions for his or herself due to being underage or otherwise not having the capacity to do so, then you might want to consider a guardianship. In Iowa, according to the Iowa Governor's Developmental Disabilities Council, having guardianship over someone means you get to make the decisions for that person in regards to important issues, such as medical care. 

One point to keep in mind is that a person's right to make decisions for him or herself cannot be stripped away without a very good reason. The court will make you prove why the person is incapable of making his or her own decisions. In general, you must prove the person will harm him or herself in some way if the decision-making rights are not taken away. 

What are some tips for making interracial adoption work?

There are many children in Iowa and around the world that need a loving home. For whatever reason, they cannot live with their biological parents. These children are from a range of races and ethnicities. When it comes to adopting a child, you do not have to adopt a child that is your same race or ethnicity. However, when you do an interracial adoption, it can create some challenges. 

The Mashup Americans offers some great tips to make interracial adoption successful. You have to find a good balance between treating your child like part of the family and recognizing his or her differences. You want the child to get an understanding and gain an appreciation for his or her biological race. At the same time, you do not want to treat him or her as different. It can help to get assistance from your adoption agency. Any agency doing interracial adoptions should offer help with the adjustment and with how to ensure your child's heritage is not lost.

How to manage medical debts

Many people in Des Moines are struggling under a crippling amount of medical debt. According to Fox Business, soon mortgages and credit cards will no longer be the primary reasons why people seek out bankruptcy protection because medical debts will be. Those who cannot pay them, often end up ignoring the bills that come in the mail and persistent phone calls they receive. Some of them sacrifice their health by not going to their doctors so they do not incur any more medical debts. 

As stressful as it can be for them to endure financial hardship for their medical bills, there are measures they can take moving forward to make their medical debts more manageable. 

Are prepaid funeral plans right for you?

You may have heard about prepaid funeral plans in Iowa. They sound like a good idea because you can plan your funeral and all the related things now so your family does not have to mess with it when you die. In addition, it helps ensure things go exactly how you want them to. Plus, you have probably heard you can save money by doing your funeral this way. While all these things seem like great reasons to preplan your funeral, the reality is not always so wonderful.

According to U.S. News and World Report, the actual value and benefits of prepaid funeral plans really depend on the contract you sign. There are many things that can go wrong and end up costing you or your family more money and time in the long run. For example, if the funeral home goes out of business, you have to be sure your contract covers this. If it does not, you could completely lose out. 

Be there for your kids when you divorce

Getting divorced may be one of the biggest challenges in your life. Like most other conscientious parents in Iowa, you have your children's best interests in mind whenever you make life-changing decisions of any kind. As for divorce, you never thought you'd have to have such a conversation with them. However, unexpected events happen, and this is happening to you. The most you can do is try to support your kids as best you can while recognizing that their needs may be different from your own.

No two children handle their parents' marital split exactly the same. One child may retreat into a shell and become extremely introverted. Another may be quite the opposite, acting out at every turn and experiencing angry and highly emotional outbursts. Then there are those who fall somewhere in the middle, sometimes getting a bit weepy or emotional and other times acting nonchalant, as though they haven't a care in the world.

What are the benefits of a prenup?

Prenuptial agreements may be something that have gotten a bad reputation. Because Iowa couples must sign one before getting married, it may seem like a hostile agreement. However, once you understand the benefits, you will see how a prenup can actually be a very beneficial legal document that can come in quite handy in the event you ever get a divorce. 

According to Fox Business, a prenuptial agreement benefits any couple who have assets before marriage, such as a house or a car. When you create a prenup, you can use it to specify what assets belong to each of you, which is very beneficial because after many years of marriage, it can be tough remembering who owned what. It also protects your assets and helps keep them out of the marital property realm, which is split during a divorce. You can include pretty much anything in this agreement. The only exceptions are you cannot specify things related to child support or custody. Also, it must be entered into willfully by both of you and be considered fair.

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