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Estate Planning


Almost everyone has an estate.  Your estate consists of everything you own or possess: your car, your bank accounts, investments, insurance proceeds, your house, everything you own is your estate.  Whether big or small, in Iowa or across the country, one thing is true---you cannot take your estate with you.


When you die or become disabled, you want to control who gets your estate, what part of your estate they will receive, and when they will receive that part of your estate.  An estate plan by the attorneys at Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP can accomplish these goals and help you minimize the amount paid in taxes and fees.

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Everybody needs an estate plan


Estate planning is making a plan in advance and naming whom you want to receive the things you own after you die.


  • A good estate plan should pass along your values, in addition to your valuables.

  • A good estate plan should care for you if you become disabled before you die.

  • A good estate plan should name a guardian for minor children.

  • A good estate plan should provide for family members with special needs.

  • A good estate plan should provide for loved ones who might be irresponsible with money or who may need future protection from creditors or divorce.

  • A good estate plan should provide for the efficient transfer of your business.

  • A good estate plan should minimize taxes, court costs, and legal fees.

  • A good estate plan should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Your plan should be reviewed and updated as your family and financial situations change over your lifetime.  Also laws change, let the attorneys at Hagenow Gustoff & Karas be your trusted estate planning partner and law firm.

A will or a trust?


A revocable living trust is preferred by many families and professionals. It can avoid probate at death (including multiple probates if you own property in other states), prevent court control of assets at incapacity, bring all of your assets (even those with beneficiary designations) together into one plan, provide maximum privacy, is valid in every state, and can be changed by you at any time. It can also reflect your love and values to your family and future generations.


Unlike a will, a trust doesn’t have to die with you. Assets can stay in your trust, managed by the trustee you selected, until your beneficiaries reach the age you want them to inherit. Your trust can continue longer to provide for a loved one with special needs, or to protect the assets from beneficiaries’ creditors, spouses, and irresponsible spending.


A living trust is more expensive initially than a will, but considering it can avoid court interference at incapacity and death, many people consider it to be a bargain.  The attorneys at Hagenow Gustoff & Karas LLP can work with you to create the perfect revocable living trust for your needs.

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