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The First Steps in Estate Planning

February 15, 2023

Let's face it...estate planning isn't the most fun task. Most people (okay, everybody) would rather spend that time putting together a vacation itinerary or research buying a new car. But in the event of an untimely death or incapacitation, do you know who you would delegate to manage and distribute the assets you worked so hard for?

It's important to consider who the burden of tying up your loose ends will fall on to. Without a plan in place, your loved ones could be in for the lengthy—and potentially expensive—role of settling your affairs. 

The good news is that you don't have to go about this alone. Here are a few simple first steps to get your estate planning journey started:

1. Compile a comprehensive list of all your assets.

You may be surprised at the number of assets you have when you consider personal property, life insurance and retirement accounts.  After you take inventory of your belongings and determine what will be in your estate, you will want to consider what would happen to your family if you or your spouse became incapacitated or passed away unexpectedly.  This will assist you in determining how you want to set up your estate for asset protection and care of your family’s needs. 

2. Contact an attorney for the preparation of legal documents.

These documents specify what actions should be taken if you can no longer make decisions for yourself and how your property transfers upon your death.  One of those decisions is who you would select to administer your documents when you are unable (incapacitated) or deceased.

3. Consider selecting a Corporate Fiduciary.

Corporate fiduciaries have advanced knowledge and skills to navigate estates and trusts.  Corporate fiduciaries do not carry the emotional dynamics that a family member or friend could be subject to when serving so they are neutral and impartial. Corporate fiduciaries will administer the estate or trust as provided by the terms of the estate documents and applicable state law.  

A bank acting as fiduciary has many resources available under “one-roof”.  This could include investment services, estate or accounting services and business and real estate management services.  

Corporate fiduciaries are subject to state and federal regulations and held to a high standard of care above and beyond the average person when managing an estate, trust or conservatorship.


It's important to remember that estate planning is an ongoing process and changes can be made as life and goals will shift as the years progress. Having the initial plan in place is what's key.

Iowa State Bank can get you started in this process. Our Trust & Wealth Management Department includes 22 staff members and the group members average over 18 years of industry experience. Our team works in Urbandale and makes our decisions locally. We strive to serve the best interests’ of our customers as a fiduciary. The department can assist with retirement planning and investing and help transition customers to a more hands-on experience with bill pay and other services as needed.

Don't put off preparing one of the most important plans you can make in your life. Contact one of our Trust & Wealth Management Officers TODAY!