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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

There are many misunderstandings about probate. These misunderstandings often come from the stories we hear from family members or friends. Even when these stories happen in other states and places, I’ve found that many of my clients are concerned. The main reason: the stories we hear are mainly about how everything went wrong, sometimes really REALLY wrong. Think about it. When things go right, there is no story so we don’t hear about that.

As an Idaho probate attorney for more than 20 years, I’ve heard every story. I’ve even been involved in probates where things have gone badly wrong because of family fights and poorly drafted last wills and testaments or trusts.  Like they say on the Farmers Insurance commercials, I know a thing or two because I’ve seen a thing or two.

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By Stephen J. Muhonen, Creditor’s Rights / Collections Attorney, Racine Olson, PLLP

Have you ever been the victim of a crime?  Ughhh!  It can be so frustrating!  First there is the event itself that caused your property to be either stolen, injured or damaged.  This is where one is first “victimized” by the bad guy or at-fault party.  Next, the person is charged with a crime and then, generally, after a few months, maybe even much longer, the case is adjudicated and the judge orders the prosecuting attorney to submit any claim(s) for restitution.  As the victim you collect receipts, get bids, obtain estimates, obtain other proof of loss and provide them to the prosecuting attorney.  The prosecutor then submits your damages to the court, which the defendant can then contest as to the amount due and owing.  Once the dust settles on the dispute (if any) as to how much is owed by the defendant to the victim, the court then enters its Order of Restitution or Judgment.  It is at this time where the victim of the crime can often feel victimized again.

Sometimes the defendant abides by the judgment or order imposed against him/her and pay as obligated.  Sometimes they pay it in one lump sum.  Sometimes they make the payments a little bit at a time over a certain period of probation; and sometimes they don’t pay it at all.  So you contact the prosecuting attorney who can then provide notice to the court that the defendant is not paying as ordered and ask the judge to find that the defendant is in violation of the terms and conditions of his/her probation.  Unfortunately, the most a judge can do is hold the defendant in contempt or in violation of probation and have him/her incarcerated.  Hopefully this gets the defendant’s attention, but it does not put money in your pocket.  So, what are your alternatives?

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Over the 20-plus years that I’ve practiced as an estate planning attorney I’ve seen just about every situation you can imagine. Many of these situations include individuals on their actual deathbeds wanting to complete their estate planning, including getting their written last will and testament done. I’ve helped in many of these situations. However, I am also keenly aware that as an attorney I have to independently verify that the individual on their deathbed who is seeking to get their estate planning done, can really do it.

In my practice, I often tell my clients that I have specific goals to complete when I’m helping them with their estate planning. The first goal is that I want to accomplish exactly what my client wants to do within the bounds of the law. My additional goal is that by accomplishing the first goal, the written last will and testament will help keep peace in their family after my client passes away.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

The goal of all good estate planning is to provide protection for the individual while they are alive and to allow their money, property, and assets to be distributed to the people they want them to go to after they pass away. One of the biggest assets that individuals have to transfer to someone else after they pass away usually is real estate. This could be a home, or it could be farm ground, or it could be an investment property. Regardless of what it is, real estate is unique, because it is one of the few assets in an estate that can actually trigger the need for a probate.

The purpose of this article is to talk about real estate and how it could affect your estate planning, and what happens with your estate after you pass away. By understanding these things, hopefully it will help you make some decisions about your own estate planning.

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By Stephen J. Muhonen, Creditor’s Rights / Collections Attorney, Racine Olson, PLLP

Congratulations!  You won your court case and now have a money judgment entered in your favor.  All of that time, effort, emotional energy, attorney fees and costs incurred, and just the drain of the process has finally funneled to a conclusion where a court has concluded you are entitled to money from the adverse party.  It’s a great day! Or is it?  You or your attorney have approached the liable party for payment, but they won’t pay.  All of that time, effort, money and energy spent for what?  How are you going to get them to pay up?

Judgment Creditors in Idaho have multiple resources to draw upon in attempt to satisfy their judgment when insurance resources are not available.  Those options include:

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By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

Isn’t it great when you have someone offer you advice that actually helps you in your life? I’ve been an estate planning attorney in Pocatello, Idaho now for over 20 years. During this time, I’ve offered a plethora of advice to each of my clients about their own estate planning documents and how they can use these documents to protect themselves while they are alive and provide for their family and loved ones after they have passed away.

There are so many nuances and specifics about an estate plan that are important it’s easy to give advice about estate planning to each of my clients. The areas that can be discussed include things such as a simple last will and testament all the way to the most complicated of trusts. I can also provide advice at length about using an estate plan to provide for minor aged children, children who have addictions, children who have disabilities and special needs, and children that parents want to disinherit from their estate plan. Additionally, I also regularly provide advice to my clients about how their estate planning can protect them while they are alive through their durable power of attorney, their living will, or their power of attorney for health care.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney I see all kinds of mistakes people make when it comes to estate planning. For most people, the biggest mistake is that they don’t get any estate planning done at all. They have no documents, including no last will and testament, no power of attorney, no living will, and no power of attorney for health care. However, there are other devastating mistakes that a person can make when it comes to their own estate plan. Perhaps the most common one is when a person does get their estate planning documents done but they fail to keep these documents properly updated. That is the focus of today’s article.

I like to tell people that their documents including their will and so forth, have a shelf life. In fact, it’s a good idea to think about your estate-planning as having an expiration date. Most importantly, your documents need to be updated anytime you go through a major life change. Major life changes include the birth of someone, the death of someone, a marriage, a divorce, someone moving away, or just the passage of time. A couple of examples will help illustrate what this means.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney it is inevitable that I have seen every possible scenario you can imagine. This includes good things, bad things, and ugly things when it comes to estate planning, probates, family fights, distributions from an estate, and so forth. Each of these experiences has made an indelible impression on my mind about the importance of a person having their estate planning done.

Through all those experience as I have come to learn that there really are two big failures that a person can have in their own estate planning that will likely have a monumentally negative effect on their family and loved ones after they pass away. The purpose of this article is to describe what these two failures are and what you can do to avoid them.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Billionaire David Koch died last week. He was just under the age of 18 years old. It is estimated that his estate is worth $50 billion. Some experts have estimated that David Koch’s heirs will likely receive the bulk of his estate because most of his estate was tied up in real estate, businesses, and other investments that are subject to capital gains. However, these capital gains taxes will likely be avoided by what is known as the step-up in basis.

This leads me to a meeting that I once had with a client who had received a diagnosis that she wouldn’t live much longer. Even though she wasn’t a billionaire like David Koch, and her estate was modest, she was concerned about what would happen to her property, including her home, after she died. Her main concern was that she wanted to pass her assets and estate on to her children.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years it has always interested me when I come across news stories dealing with how individuals have handled their estate planning. This has never been more true that when it comes to the infamous Jeffrey Epstein who was accused of sexually assaulting numerous women many of whom were underaged.

Mr. Epstein had been charged with numerous criminal counts and was being held in jail in New York awaiting his trial, when he committed suicide. Immediately afterwards the news outlets were reporting that various claims were being filed by victims against his estate with a prediction that many more suits would also be filed now that Mr. Epstein had died. Then, to twist the plot even further, it was reported that two days before he committed suicide, he had completed his own written last will and testament and had transferred everything he owned into one or more trusts. The news outlets were speculating on when or whether any of the victims’ claims would be satisfied because of the things that Mr. Epstein had done withhis estate planning prior to his suicide.

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