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LIVING WILL AND MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY VS. DNR AND IPOST ORDERS standard

A Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney can put you in control about the care and treatment you receive when your health deteriorates. That is why it is important to know what these documents are. A Living Will informs your health care provider that when you are in a terminally ill or permanently unconscious condition you do not want him or her to perform any life-sustaining procedures that would merely prolong the dying process. A Medical Power of Attorney applies any time you are, in the opinion of your physician, unable to make your own health care decisions. In these situations, an agent steps in and makes those decisions for you. The agent is someone that you designate in the ...

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HORSING AROUND WITH THE LAW standard

Did You Know? Iowa is one of several states with a Domesticated Animals Activity Act which provides broad, blanket immunity for a wide variety of domesticated animal activities. What does that mean? Should any employee, participant, or spectator to any horse/equine activity get injured by a horse, the person or company connected to the animal or activity is generally not held liable. These activities include: Riding Horseshoeing Showing horses Loading, hauling, and transporting horses Inspecting horses at events Using horses for farm work The Law at Work: Recently, the Iowa Supreme Court addressed a case in which a farm hand mounted a horse for the purpose of moving two heifers. The horse became unruly and bucked the farm hand. The farm ...

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SHINING THE SPOTLIGHT ON ARBITRATION standard

On July 10, 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a new rule banning arbitration agreements that prevent class action suits against banks and other financial institutions.  The rule will be effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register and is expected to spark legal and political fights. Knowing arbitration may be taking a spotlight in the news, we thought an overview of the topic may be helpful. WHAT IS ARBITRATION? Arbitration is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that takes place out of court by submitting claims for consideration to a panel of one or more arbitrators.  Arbitrators are not judges; however, they do review evidence submitted by the parties that will usually include a hearing ...

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WAGE AND HOUR ISSUES FOR EMPLOYERS standard

Summer Employment Tips:  Special Rules for Employing Minors Employers who hire high school-aged employees for summer jobs should be aware that the employment of minors is regulated by state and federal child labor laws. Depending on the age of the minor, different rules may affect the types of jobs they can perform, the hours they can work and whether breaks are required.  Generally, minors who are under the age of 14 may not be employed in nonagricultural jobs unless the job is exempt from regulation (such as newspaper delivery, babysitting, or working in a family business). Work Permits:  Some states require minors to obtain work permits.  In Iowa, only minors who are 14 or 15 years of age must have a ...

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2017 FEDERAL ESTATE TAX REFORM standard

There are two major estate tax reforms that could potentially be enacted in 2017.  The first is a repeal of the Federal Estate Tax.  The second is a repeal of the step-up in basis at death. The Federal Estate Tax/Gift Tax is currently imposed on estates with a value of more than $5,490,000.  In other words, you can give away, during your lifetime and/or at your death, $5,490,000 without paying estate or gift tax.  This amount is also portable, meaning you can share this exemption with your spouse, allowing a married couple $10,980,000 in exemption between the two of them.  This tax currently affects a very small percentage of estates. Current tax laws allow assets that pass to a beneficiary through ...

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NEW I-9 FORM REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS EFFECTIVE JANUARY 22, 2017 standard

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently published a revised version of the I-9 Form.  This is the form that employers must use to document their employees’ identification and eligibility to work in the United States.  The form must be completed within three business days of an employee’s date of hire.  The new digital form is intended to be easier to complete electronically and can be accessed and downloaded here. Employers can still use the older form (dated 3-8-13) however as of January 22, 2017, the new form (dated 11-14-2016) must be used. USCIS notes that the changes to the form “are designed to reduce errors and enhance form completion using a computer.”   The following information is also provided ...

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Death and Taxes standard

“… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”   -Benjamin Franklin One of the most common questions I am asked by my estate planning clients is how much tax will be owned at the time of death.  There can be two levels of taxation at the time of death: federal tax and state tax. First, the good news is that the federal estate tax only applies to decedents who own more than $5.45 million in assets at the time death.  Thus, with the new portability rules, a husband and wife can own $10.9 million at the time of the death of the survivor and owe no federal estate tax.  The bad news with the federal ...

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Four Things To Know About Agricultural Leases standard

A farm lease can be either oral or written. In Iowa, an oral lease for the tenancy of a farm is enforceable for up to one year.  While it seems that an oral lease for the tenancy of a farm is the easier route to take, and perhaps the oral lease option may have the least expensive up-front cost, consider that oral lease agreements can end up being much more expensive in the long run if a dispute arises due to the need to litigate the details of the oral lease. A written farm lease is the alternative that the lawyers at MHM&M recommend that their Clients take.  A well written lease will ensure that all parties to the lease understand ...

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Inter Vivos Trusts: One of the many tools an Attorney can use to develop your Estate Plan standard

While there are a number of different estate planning mechanisms available, one of most popular is an inter vivos (living) trust.  Like a will, an inter vivos trust can transfer your assets at your death, but there are also many differences. Key advantages of a trust include that, so long as all of your estate assets are titled in the name of your trust, you can avoid probate.  Avoiding probate ensures that your assets and your distribution plan are kept confidential and you avoid the expense of probate. Trusts are also much more flexible than wills.  Trusts can continue for many years (and in some states, like South Dakota, they can continue forever) without being distributed.  That allows you to not ...

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FINAL OVERTIME RULE ANNOUNCED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR standard

The Department of Labor has just announced its final overtime rule.  It was thought that the salary threshold for maintaining the overtime exemption for white collar (executive, administrative, and professional) employees (the “salary test”) would increase from $455 per week/$23,660 per year to $970 per week/$50,440 per year.  There was also an expectation that once the Final Rule was published, employers would have just 90 days to come into compliance. The Final Rule sets a slightly lower than expected salary level and also gives employers longer to prepare for the changes, establishing a December 1, 2016 effective date.  Under the Final Rule, the required salary for an exempt white collar employee who is subject to the “salary test” will be ...

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