The following information will assist you if you are in need of an attorney for a civil legal matter but cannot afford one.
This handbook was prepared by the: Young Lawyers Division Services to the Elderly Committee of the Iowa State Bar Association.
A legal information and resource guide produced by the young lawyers division of the Iowa State Bar Association.
It is important to select an attorney who can help with the specific legal problem. Most lawyers practice in certain areas, and only take cases in their practice areas.
Living Wills, also called Advance Care Directives, are documents that set forth your personal wishes with respect to medical care.
If someone else is more at fault for your injury than you are, you may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company, if any.
A power of attorney is a written document by which one person gives to another person (the attorney-in-fact) the authority to act on behalf of the first person in one or more matters.
Under Iowa law, if there are children involved in a divorce, the parents must attend a court-approved class on how divorce affects children, designed to educate parents about the pitfalls and emotional effect divorce can have on children.
Domestic violence is abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together).
Everyone should make a will before they die to endure that their property is distributed according to their wishes.
Watch this video to learn about two types of powers of attorney. In both cases, an agent that is given power of attorney through a legal document has the right to take care of healthcare or financial decisions for someone who is incapacitated or unable to make healthcare or financial decisions for themselves.
A written rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant is not necessary if the lease will last less than a year.
If you die without a will, the court selects an administrator to administrate the estate and distribute your property -- Iowa law determines who gets your property.
A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, revocable living trust, or inter vivos trust, is an alternative way to own property during your life and transfer property at your death.
The Iowa lemon law covers persons who purchase or lease a new or previously untitled motor vehicle for purposes other than resale or sublease. The lemon law also covers any other person entitled by the warranty to enforce the obligations of the warranty during the lemon law rights period. The definition of “person” includes any natural person or his/her legal representative, a partnership, corporation, company, trust, business entity or association.
If someone else is more at fault for your injury than you are, you may make a claim against that person or business and their insurance company, if any.
This pamphlet outlines some key issues you need to consider when you purchase a residence without the assistance of a realtor as well as those situations where the seller is trying to sell a residence in a "for sale by owner” situation sometimes called a FSBO.
Concern is manifested not infrequently about attorneys’ fees. Some who have benefited from a lawyer’s services occasionally express surprise at the amount charged and wonder how the lawyer arrived at a particular fee.
This guide gives the public and attorneys in Iowa an overview of the standards for professional conduct within Iowa.
The relatively small amount of money involved in some legal claims often makes it economically impractical for people to hire a lawyer to represent them in small claims court. In these cases, people usually have to represent themselves and many times they just give up.
Watch this video to learn what trusts are and examples of how they may be used.
Jury service is one of the most important duties of citizenship. The right to trial by jury is one of the most important guarantees of our freedom contained in the U. S. Constitution. However, this right would not mean very much without people who were willing to serve as jurors. When you are summoned to jury service, please answer the call to serve. It is your civic duty. It is your chance to participate directly in our democracy. To learn more ab - A Jury of Our Peers.out Iowa's jury selection process by reading the information below or you may view the latest jury instructional video
Are you considering starting a new business or adopting a new business form for an existing business?
Learn what you can do to protect certain property from garnishment and how to meet your related legal obligations to creditors.
There may be a time where you may need someone to act on your behalf because of circumstances beyond your control. This can be even more important should you need medical care but you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
This guide includes general information about Social Security & Supplemental Security Income for people living with disabilities.
Learn what you can do to protect certain property from creditors and debt collectors and how to meet your legal obligations to them.
There are a few steps that you can anticipate when proper procedures are followed according to Iowa law during a real estate foreclosure process. The steps can include: notice of right to cure default (default notice), acceleration notice, petition of foreclosure, demand for delay of sale and decree of judgement. Consult an attorney at or before the first step in the process. Watch this video to learn more about your rights to protect yourself from immediate foreclosure and the sale of your home.
Find information about preventing gas, electric and water shutoffs.
Landlord–tenant law is a part of the common law that details the rights and duties of landlords and tenants.
Watch this video for general information about obtaining and maintaining federal tax exempt status when starting a charity or foundation.
The most careful and conscientious drivers are not immune to automobile accidents. It can be an emotional and confusing experience.
An experienced car accident attorney can tell you the likelihood that there may be a financial benefit to you if you hire an attorney to help you with a car accident claim. The determination will depend on a number of factors including the extent of your medical expenses and whether a permanent injury resulted from the accident. Even if there may not be a financial benefit to hiring an attorney to help with a car accident claim, some individuals find that they have more piece of mind after an accident if they have an attorney help them communicate with the other driver’s insurance company when they are asked to do things like sign documents, make statements and give updates on their medical condition.
One of the most frequently asked questions asked of a legal professional is how they determine the fees that they charge. Some people considering hiring an attorney are hesitant to do so for fear of the cost.
After you are in an accident or injured, you should first seek medical attention. Be sure to report the incident so that there is a record of the accident or injury. Contact a lawyer shortly after you obtain medical treatment.
Meeting with a lawyer to talk about a divorce can be one of the most stressful things that a person may do. Before you select a lawyer, you may want to consider how much the lawyer may charge to represent you in the divorce and how much experience the lawyer has in representing clients in their divorces. Before you see your lawyer, gather copies of your most recent bank, credit card, and retirement fund statements along with your last 6 months of pay stubs and your tax return. Be prepared to talk with your lawyer about what you want to get out of the divorce.
The most important thing that you need to do if you have been injured in a car accident is get appropriate medical treatment. This is important for two reasons: 1) you want to get well; and 2) it is an opportunity for you to document your injury. There is no better way to document any injuries that you sustained than by going to a doctor or therapist and getting the treatment you need until you are healed. Learn more about what to do after being injured in a car accident by watching this video.
A healthcare power of attorney is established so that you have someone in place to make healthcare decisions for you if you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself as defined by the law known as “capacity.” When you establish a power of attorney for health care decisions, it offers you the opportunity to talk with the person or people you choose to serve as your healthcare power of attorney about the healthcare that you would or would not want in a health crisis situation. Learn more about establishing a healthcare power of attorney by watching this video.
So you're going to be a witness. For many, this can be a very stressful experience. We understand that you may feel anxious or nervous about testifying in court before a judge, lawyers, and jury.
Mediation is a process where a neutral facilitator works with two or more parties in order to help them find a solution to a conflict without going to court. Mediators work with all parties together or separately to help resolve their conflict. Mediators can help people in conflict find create solutions that they can be satisfied with without going to court.
In Iowa, we have two types of custody, legal custody and physical care. Legal custody means that you have the right to make major decisions in your child’s life such as decisions related to religious education, academic education, medical care and extracurricular activities. In Iowa, legal custody is almost always joint legal custody. This means that each parent has the right to have a say about those major decisions in a child’s life. Physical custody relates to a child’s living situation on a day-to-day basis. There are several factors that go into making a determination about the physical custody of a child including the child’s age, emotional, social, and educational needs. Learn more about how child custody decisions are made by watching this video.
Information about protecting yourself from identity theft and what to do if your identity is stolen.
Iowa is an at-will employment state. At-will employment means that either the employer or employee can terminate the employment relationship for any reason without any notice required. This can be contrasted with contract employment relationships where contracts specify the terms of the employment.
When lawyers decide how to charge fees for the legal services that they provide to their clients, they take the type of matter and its complexity as well as their experience into account. Five types of ways that lawyers charge fees for legal services include: hourly fees, flat rates, contingent fees, statutory fees and hybrid fee structures. When you seek legal services from a lawyer, ask about the fees they may charge if they represent you as their client. Watch this video for more information.
Information about the rights and responsibilities related to public housing.
Watch this video to learn more about the two different ways that you can contribute to the charity or nonprofit of your choice – after death and during life.
Before you contest or challenge a will, it is important to find out what the consequences will be in case you lose the contest. When you contest a will, you ask a judge or jury to void the will so that its effects will be defeated. There are procedures and deadlines that you will need to follow in order to contest a will. You only have a short amount of time from the date that a will is admitted to probate to file a lawsuit contesting the will.
Child support is calculated in Iowa by using guidelines that are set by the Iowa Supreme Court. The guidelines are used to determine how to divide the parent’s financial responsibilities to care for their children. Child support can be withheld from a parent’s paycheck or parents can send checks for child support to the clerk of court in the county where the child support order was issued. If one parent fails to pay child support, the other parent can contact the Child Support Recovery Unit or a private lawyer.
In order to modify physical custody agreements in Iowa, there must be a “substantial change in circumstances” since the entry of the divorce decree or other original order regarding the physical custody of a child or children. The court also must determine that modification of physical custody will be “in the best interest of the child” or children under Iowa law. Sometimes a move, remarriage or new relationship that places a child in physical or emotional danger would meet the “substantial change in circumstances” and “best interest of the child” requirements, but not always. Changing parenting or visitation schedules requires a “significant change in circumstances” rather than a “substantial change in circumstances.” Watch this video to learn more about the legal requirements that courts use to decide when to modify physical custody agreements.
This video describes how mediation allows parties in conflict to reach resolutions to problems while preserving their relationships. Mediation is confidential – what happens in the mediation room stays in the mediation room and solutions reached during mediation are known only to the parties to the mediation. Also, mediation can happen in a more timely manner than going through the court process.
Learn about telephone access and protections.
The court will consider a lot of different factors when it tries to consider what type of property settlement you might be entitled to receive as part of your divorce, also known as a dissolution of marriage or dissolution. As a general rule, if you were not married but you were living together, the court does not divide property. Watch this video to learn more about these factors that a court may consider when deciding how to divide property in a divorce proceeding.
If you do not like the work that a contractor did for you, keep in mind that you have 10 years from the date of a written contract to sue for breach of contract or, if there is not a written contract, 10 years from the date that you discovered that you found out that the work was defective. Learn more about the steps that you can take with the contractor before you take legal action.
Information on prevention and rights related to consumer fraud.
Information for owners and tenants in mobile homes.
When parents have joint legal custody of their child, the parent that has primary physical care, called the custodial parent, can move with the child. In this type of situation, the parent that does not have primary physical care, called the non-custodial parent, is entitled to seek a modification of either the physical custody of the child or at a minimum modify either the parenting or visitation schedule between the non-custodial parent and the child. Watch this video to learn more about how the court makes decisions when a custodial parent moves in a joint legal custody situation.
If you are building a home, it is definitely a good idea to consider entering into a written contract with the businesses and professionals involved in the process even though oral contracts are enforceable. An attorney can help you with the contract process and with any disputes that may arise before, during or after building your home.
Under both state and federal laws, employers cannot discriminate against, treat differently, terminate an employee because of the employee’s age, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion or disability. Watch this video to learn more about your workplace rights as they relate to discrimination and retaliation.
If you file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 13, it will stay on your bank report for seven years. If you file under Chapter 7, it will stay on your credit report for 10 years. Late payments that you make will stay on your credit report for seven years. You can rebuild your credit after bankruptcy by making timely and consistent payments to your creditors, reaffirming certain types of debts and by making wise credit decisions going forward.
This video describes what “maximum medical improvement” means in the context of workers compensation. The end of medical treatment provided under a workers compensation claim is called “maximum medical improvement.”
There are not guidelines for calculating spousal support in Iowa. This means that spousal support is calculated on a case-by-case basis and the facts of each case. The basic idea is that the court looks at one party’s need and the other party’s ability to pay. Watch this video to learn more about the factors that impact spousal support calculations.
Under Iowa law, prenuptial or premarital agreements are enforceable in the course of a divorce but there are some things that cannot be included in them. Making the decision to get a prenuptial or premarital agreement is important and a lawyer can help you determine the best way to help you protect the things that you want to protect.
Consider putting together a business plan. Things that you will want to see in a business plan include: description of goals for the business itself; market research regarding competitors in the general area where you will be selling your goods and services; organizational structure (for example, limited liability company, corporation, sole proprietorship); amount of money needed to get business started; and sales strategy (for example, amount you will charge for your goods and services). Learn more about how an attorney can help you start your business by watching this video.
There are five key points that you should keep in mind if you feel that your medical procedure was handled improperly: 1) be informed; 2) document what happened; 3) obtain medical records; 4) get help; and 5) understand the medical provider’s standard of care. Watch this video for more information on each of these five key points.
At some point in the process of selling or purchasing residential real estate there can be times when your needs differ from the needs of the other parties involved. Even though it is sometimes possible to rely on a lender’s or realtor’s attorney during the process, you have the freedom to choose an attorney to do business on your behalf. Real estate transactional attorneys normally charge flat fees or a low hourly rate to do residential real estate transactions. Learn more about why and when you may want your own lawyer when selling or purchasing real estate by watching this video.
The most important things to consider when finding a lawyer is that they 1) have the expertise in the area of that law that you are seeking legal assistance with and 2) that you feel comfortable trusting them to handle your legal matter. Watch this video to learn more about finding and hiring a lawyer.
Both Iowa and federal laws make sexual harassment illegal. Sexual harassment is verbal or physical conduct by an employer, coworker or even a client or customer that is sex-based and impacts an employee’s working environment and / or creates a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can take many forms. There are a number of factors that are used to decide whether conduct is illegal. An experienced lawyer can help you determine whether you have a sexual harassment case.
There are three basic ways to leave instructions for your children on how they can spend their inheritance: 1) include instructional language in your will that is not legally binding called precatory language; 2) place a legal restriction that can last up to 21 years on the sale of an asset; and 3) create a trust that can be used to control the money for the benefit of your children. This video provides information and examples for each of these three options.
General contractors, subcontractors and suppliers can file mechanic’s liens in order to seek payment for work the performed or supplies they provided if they follow registration filing and notice rules. This video describes how the parties involved in construction on property use the Mechanic’s Notice and Lien Registry, written contract terms and time sensitive notices to protect their interests and enforce their rights. Watch this video for more information about important details related to mechanic’s liens.
In most cases the court will not restrict or prohibit visitation between one parent and a child unless it is going to effect the child’s physical or emotional safety. Under Iowa law, the assumption is that the maximum contact between a parent and a child is considered to be in the best interest of the child. Watch this video to learn more about potentially placing restrictions or prohibitions on child visitation.
Even if an image doesn’t have the copyright symbol or any other identifying mark posted along with it, it does not mean that copyright protection doesn’t still exist. This video describes the basic concepts about how copyright protection begins, how long it lasts, the exclusive rights granted to copyright owners and how to minimize the risk of infringing upon a copyright owner’s rights.
As a general rule, if your employment is terminated, you are eligible for benefits unless there is sufficient evidence to prove that your employment was terminated for misconduct. An employee quits their job is not going to get unemployment unless they quit for good cause. Watch this video to learn more about the eligibility and the legal meaning of misconduct and good cause.
Patents are used to protect the function or utility of inventions. Trademarks and copyrights also provide ways to protect ideas and other intangible assets. Trademarks are available to protect names, logos and brands. Copyrights are available to protect creative works of authorship such as books or music. Patent attorneys can work together with you to determine whether your invention can meet the key requirements necessary to obtain the type of patent that may be available for an invention. This video provides an introduction to the different types of patents that are available and the legal protections they can provide for inventions.
Trademarks are business assets that can be protected through registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This video includes an overview of important aspects of trademark registration.
If a workers compensation claim is admitted in Iowa, then an employer can control the doctors that an employee sees. If the medical care that is being offered by the doctors that an employer selects seems to be unreasonable or is not as effective as other care might be, then the employee can file a petition with the workers compensation commissioner for additional medical care. Watch this video to learn more about how this process works.
If you find yourself in a domestic abuse situation, you probably know the abuser and you may know certain things that can trigger the abuser and lead to danger. Remember that you may need to call 9-1-1 in order to protect yourself. If you are at a position where you feel comfortable going and getting a protective order, you can go to talk to a lawyer or to the courthouse in your community. If you go to the courthouse, go directly to the Clerk of Court’s Office and tell them that you would like to fill out the paperwork for a petition for relief from domestic abuse. After you complete the paperwork, a judge can review everything that you included in the paperwork and decide if a protective should be issued immediately. This video provides information about what you can do throughout the process of getting a protective order.
It is possible to renounce or disclaim a will or disclaim a will. Watch this video to learn more about reasons why you may want to renounce or dispute a will with regard to an inheritance you may receive and the potential consequences.
Watch this video to learn about the three basic rights in a workers compensation claim in Iowa.
It is against the law for an employer to terminate an employee’s employment simply for exercising the employee’s workers compensation rights. Watch this video for more information.
Sometimes when a claim is made for a serious workers compensation injury, an insurance company may choose to conduct surveillance. Watch this video to learn more about what types of monitoring are legal and protection from illegal monitoring.
Under Iowa law, if the workers compensation claim is admitted, then the employer and employer’s insurance carrier control the doctors that an employee sees. This does not mean that the employer or the employer’s insurance carrier controls the medical care that the doctor provides. Watch this video for more information about medical care decisions in the context of workers compensation claims.
A trademark is much like a brand name: it is what you want people to automatically think of when they think of the goods and services that you are selling. Trademark infringement is essentially when the mark that you are using is so closely related to other marks that the public may be confused about the source of the marks. The key factor used to determine whether there is trademark infringement is the similarity of the marks themselves and the similarity of the goods and services that they are being used to protect. Watch this video to learn ways you can prevent potential trademark infringement through the use of your business’s name.
Patents allow businesses to provide protection for the things that businesses put resources into such as time, research and development and money. Patents enable businesses to focus on growth in part because patents exclude competitors from offering similar products or services that are covered by the patent. This allows patent holding businesses to be the first and only businesses to provide a product or service and, in doing so, allows businesses to build larger customer bases. Watch this video to learn more.
You should be submitting all of your accident related medical bills to health insurance if you have it. Also, you can submit whatever you have to pay in copays or in reimbursement costs to your auto insurance medical pay if it is part of your coverage. Finally, you have the opportunity to seek worker’s compensation benefits if the accident happened while you were on-the-job. To learn more about how to pay for accident-related medical treatments watch this video.
If you are talking to another party’s insurance company purely to discuss your property damage claim against them (i.e. vehicle repairs) it may be beneficial to you. However, there is no benefit to you to talk with another party’s insurance company about your personal injuries and the medical treatment you need. Watch this video for more information and precautions you may want to take before talking with another party’s insurance company about your injuries from an accident.
Information on the types of human trafficking, indications that a person is a victim of trafficking and some resources to help victims of trafficking.
The first thing you should do when facing patent litigation is to read the materials that were sent to you or served upon you. By reading the patent and the complaint letter, you may figure out what products or services are really being addressed by that patent and that letter. Next, you should call a patent attorney. Do not call the party that sent or served the written materials upon you – anything you say to the party can be used against you. When you call a patent attorney, tell them what you perceived when you read the materials that were sent to or served upon you. Watch this video to learn more about how a patent attorney can help you to develop a strategy that will best help your business.