Sunday, December 28, 2008

Legal Issues for Family Members with Alzheimer's

Alzheimer's is a horrendous disease with someone developing Alzheimer's every 71 seconds. Watching a loved one's condition continue to deteriorate to the point of not recognizing family members or their life is truly depressing. However, there are certain legal steps to consider when a family member is involved.
  • Guardianship and conservatorship If decisions need to be made for an incapacitated individual, whether medical care or financial matters, it may be necessary to have a guardian/conservator appointed by a court.
  • Trust - If a self-settled trust has already been established by the incapacitated individual, it may be necessary to examine having the successor trustee step in to handle trust management matters.
  • Power of Attorney - If the individual has already signed a power of attorney (health and financial), steps should be taken to determine whether the disability provisions are applicable and granting authority.
  • Beneficiary Designation review - Information should be reviewed to determine if the proper beneficiaries are named on applicable accounts and whether any changes need to be made.
Working with an elder law attorney or an experienced estate planning attorney will help guide a family through a difficult time.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Iowa Inheritance Taxes

The "Death tax" is alive and well in Iowa. Iowa currently has an inheritance tax system in place. What this means is that the person who inherits the property will determine if tax is owed or not. Compared to an estate tax system, where the size of the estate determines where tax is owed or not. (Although if the total estate is less than $25,000, there is no Iowa Inheritance tax imposed.)

Iowa has an unlimited exemption from inheritance taxes for surviving spouses, charities and lineal descendants/ascendants. If the recipient fits into any of those categories, there is no Iowa inheritance tax.

If the recipient is outside those categories, the tax will vary based upon the amount of the inheritance and the relationship to the decedent. The Iowa Department of Revenue's table illustrates how the tax is computed and the different tax rates applicable.

If any tax is owed, it is due on the 30th day of the ninth month following the date of decedent's death.