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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Over the past three years that we have provided this estate planning blog on our firm’s website we have often discussed instances where celebrities are other famous people have made serious mistakes with their estate planning. These mistakes range from either not having any estate planning done at all, to having a confusing estate plan that does nothing but cause contention and disputes between the person’s family members and loved ones. It’s easy to pick on celebrities because they are so visible. However, to be fair, we have also provided many articles about things that many celebrities have done right.

In today’s article we are going to discuss a celebrity who did things right. This celebrity is Burt Reynolds who passed away in the fall of 2018 at the age of 82. As with many celebrities, upon his death there were many articles having to do with his estate planning. Some of these articles stated that he had disinherited his son because his last will and testament had a sentence in it that stated the following: “I intentionally omit my son from this my last will and testament as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.” In other words, it appears that Burt Reynolds used a living trust as part of his estate plan.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney in Idaho one of the things I like to do is talk with parents about ways they can use their estate planning to provide an incentive to their children to be productive and to contribute to society. In other words, I think it is unwise for a parent to leave a large inheritance of money, property, or other assets to a young child or even a young adult. The reason for this is because it usually steals away from that individual the drive and desire for them to be successful on their own.

To be sure, it’s possible that you could have an unusual child. They may receive millions of dollars from you and it wouldn’t affect their desire to be successful on their own. However, this is a rare case. In fact, it’s so rare that it almost never happens. This brings us to the focus of this particular blog which has to do with Gloria Vanderbilt.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I love my job! I get to spend my days helping individuals create estate plans that will both protect them while they are alive and provide a plan for distributing their money, property, and other assets to their family members and other loved ones after they pass away. I also get to work with family members after a loved one has passed away so they can complete the necessary probate process required by Idaho law. In other words, I get to use my expertise to help individuals who do not know what they need to do in order to move forward after they have lost a loved one.

In helping families complete the probate process, I am often asked this simple question: What does a Personal Representative do? The purpose of this article is to provide a short answer to this often asked question. However, first I want to explain how a personal representative is chosen.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I am a fan of both estate-planning and Star Trek. I grew up with Star Trek as a kid and watched every episode I could. Additionally, cover for the last 20 years I have worked as an estate planning attorney in Idaho helping individuals customize and create their own estate plans to meet their needs and help them avoid problems in the future. It’s for this reason that I was fascinated by the recent story of actress Nichelle Nichols who played the character of Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series in the 1960s.

The 85-year-old actress was recently diagnosed with “moderate progressive dementia”, according to her doctor. Specifically, Nichols’ doctor described her condition as “major impairment of her short-term memory and moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place and immediate recall.”

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having been an estate planning attorney now for 20 years, I’m always on the lookout for interesting news and stories that I can use as an example to help my clients avoid serious problems when it comes to their own estate planning. The most recent story that I’ve learned of that is interesting and helpful is that of Aretha Franklin, who was known as the queen of soul.

Aretha Franklin died of cancer in August of 2018 at the age of 76. Her longtime personal attorney stated that he had been after her for a number of years to get her estate planning done including a written will. She was extremely private about her own finances and never consulted her personal attorney about getting her estate planning done. In fact, shortly after her death it was reported that she had no estate planning completed and that her estate would have to be distributed pursuant to the intestate laws that applied. However, it’s recently come to light that she did in fact have a written last will and testament. In fact, it appears that she had three of them. The problem is, that none of these Wills was created by a lawyer.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Business Lawyer

Real life involves contracts. In fact, even if you never actually talk to, use or even see a lawyer, it’s still likely that you have several contracts in your life that you are a party to right now while you are reading this article. Additionally, if you are involved in any type of business operation it’s likely that contracts are a regular part of your life and business.

It’s not uncommon that when people find out what I do for a living they start asking me questions about contracts that they are dealing with as part of their life. It could be a rental agreement, or it could be a contract for the purchase of a home or a car. I have also had people ask me questions about the student loan contract that they are dealing with and trying to pay off, or the credit card collection notice that causes them to ask me about their contracts. Regardless of what type of contract it is, one of the most common questions I am asked is, “Am I bound by the contract I signed?”

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an attorney who has practiced Idaho estate planning and probate law for the last 20 years I am always interested in stories about families and individuals when it comes to their estate planning. Often these new stories include celebrities who have either done something really well or have made some terrible mistake in their estate planning that was only discovered after they passed away and that resulted in serious problems for those who are left behind. However, every once in a while a different kind of story is reported on. Recently I read the news about the well-known movie director John Singleton. At a young age he wrote the screenplay for and then later directed the movie Boyz n the Hood for which he became both the first African American and the youngest person to have ever been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

As it turns out, at the age of 51, Mr Singleton suffered a stroke which ended up requiring him to be placed on life support. The main reason the story caught my attention was because it contained an announcement by his family that they had made the decision to take him off life support and that they didn’t expect that he would live afterwards. In fact, Mr Singleton did pass away shortly after life support was removed.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

In an ideal world everyone would get along swimmingly and there would be no contentions, or fights, or disagreements. In an ideal world our relationships with others would be excellent, and there would be no individual problems such as disabilities or addictions. The problem is we don’t live in an ideal world. Rather, we live in the real world which means that there are issues and problems with relationships and individuals as well. Because of these things, it is often necessary for a parent or other family member to write someone out of there will.

For over 20 years I have assisted individuals in the creation of their own customized estate planning documents including their last will and testament. There have been many instances where I have worked with my clients to write someone out of their will. Not all circumstances are the same. There have been a number of reasons that I have assisted client in accomplishing this. Sometimes my clients simply do it out of spite. However, the purpose of this article is to describe some of the legitimate reasons a person may want to write someone out of their will.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years one of the great things I get to do is keep up with and read news about celebrities who either have or have not successfully completed their own estate planning. Most often, I read articles about the estate planning mistakes that were made by celebrities. However, every once in a while I get the opportunity to learn from the good choices that were made by celebrities as they created their own estate plan. This is the case when it comes to famous rapper Nipsey Hussle.

Nipsey Hussle, the 33 year old Grammy-nominated rapper and entrepreneur was fatally shot outside his clothing store in March 2019. Following his tragic murder, many other celebrities and individuals outside of his own family attempted to create fundraising events and crowdsourcing in order to raise money for the children that he left behind. However, once the family learned of this they specifically contacted these individuals and requested that they not participate or promote any such fundraising. The reason for this was that the family was able to confirm that before he had died, Nipsey Hussle had completed his own estate planning which properly and completely would provide for and take care of the family he left behind.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having been an estate planning and probate attorney in Idaho for over 20 years, one of the most common questions that comes up with clients is what happens when a will is contested? This question comes up in different circumstances and for different reasons. Sometimes this question comes up because my clients are creating their own estate plan and they are worried that one of their family members may try to contest their last will and testament after they pass away. Alternatively, this question sometimes comes up with clients who want to contest the will of a family member who has passed away. It either of these is sought the legal process would be the same.

To explain what would likely occur in the instance of a will contest being made, I often refer to what has been come known as the Eggan’s estate case. This is a case that was decided by the Idaho Supreme on November 1, 1963. [For those of you who have a legal penchant the citation is 86 Idaho 328, or 386 P.2d 563.]

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