© 2023 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Estate Planning: It's Never Too Early to Draw Up a Will

Appalachian dreamer

When John Criss died in 2015 he bequeathed 5.7 million dollars to his hometown Sac City, but with a stipulation: all of the money must be spent on the beautification of the town.

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe explores Criss' legacy and the future of Sac City with three of the trustees to his estate. She also talks with economist Neil Harl and estate planning lawyer Gordon Fischer about the dos and don’ts of planning an estate. 

While most people don't leave a multi-million dollar sum behind when they go, estate planning is important for everyone. Surveys show that more than half of Americans lack a will, something Fischer says is the most basic document you should have ready.

Without a will, Fischer says there can be negative consequences including leaving your family with little to no direction, leaving children with no assigned guardian, and paying more in attorney costs, fees, and taxes. 

In addition to a will, Fischer says to consider the following: confirming a financial power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and a document that explains what you want done with your remains. He adds that wealthier individuals may also consider a trust, that in its most basic form, transfers ownership of certain assets to a trustee upon a specific life circumstance, such as the death of the person who made the trust.

Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa