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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The first conversation is usually a panicked one. It’s either a phone call or the person has scheduled an appointment to meet with me in person. The first sentence is almost always the same. “Mr. Erickson, I’ve been named in the Will as a personal representative for my father/mother/sister/brother or spouse’s estate, and I have no idea what I need to do. Can you help me?” When this happens, I am always happy to help.

The first thing I do is sit down with this client and show them the probate diagram that I use with all clients during the first consultation. As I talk about the steps and process of a probate, I usually start by describing the main reasons that a personal representative is appointed. There are really only four.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney, I often have conversations with my elderly clients about whether or not they should leave a sizable inheritance to their children or grandchildren. This is a question that can be discussed from a number of different angles depending on your perspective. However, I usually start the conversation by telling my clients that they have absolutely no legal obligation to leave any inheritance to any of their family.

I often tell my clients that if I had a crystal ball and we knew exactly when it was their life would end, we could come up with the perfect estate plan where they could spend their last dime the day before they die. If I had this ability, I would be the most sought out estate planning attorney in the world.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d be familiar with the biggest news story coming out of Idaho recently. This has to do with Chad Daybell and his new wife Lori Vallow. In addition to the two missing children, several mysterious deaths surround these two individuals including the death of Chad Daybell’s first wife Tammy. Though no details have been released to the public yet, Tammy Daybell’s body has been exhumed so that additional tests can be done to determine whether or not her death was due to natural causes as claimed by Chad.

Without getting into all the details having to do with Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the missing children, we will simply focus on what will happen under Idaho’s inheritance laws if it is determined that Chad Daybell played a role in Tammy’ death.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

For more than 20 years I’ve been an estate planning and probate attorney in Idaho. I love where I live, and I love the work I do! I find that I have an opportunity to help many people in creating their own customized written estate plan. I also get to work with these people to keep their plan updated whenever they go through a major life change. Additionally, I’m available to help the family members or loved ones of each of my clients when my clients pass away.

Whatever I tell someone that I’m an estate planning and probate attorney I usually get a series of questions. These questions can range all over the place from how do you start to get an estate plan done or what is it that you need to do after a loved one or family member has passed away. Recently, however, I was asked a question I’ve never been asked before. This question was, “What does executing a will mean?”

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning is a unique and personal thing to complete. As an estate planning attorney for more than 20 years I’ve seen all kinds of ideas and goals that people have come up with as part of their estate planning. Really, an estate plan can be as unique as the individual who creates it.

One of the things I have found is that most people want to have a plan in place that doesn’t require a lot of time and maintenance to keep current. I completely understand this. I believe that getting a good estate plan done through a competent and qualified attorney is worth the money. However, I can understand that people don’t want to have to keep returning to the lawyer every time they want to give a specific gift through their written last will and testament. The good news is, they don’t need to use an attorney when this happens.

DEBTOR EXAM

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

I have been practicing law for almost 17 years.  Throughout this time I cannot tell you how many times I have been contacted by creditors/judgment holders, asking to retain me so as to have their debtor sat down and grilled as to what assets they have and where are the assets at.  Though I understand the creditor’s desire to have its debt satisfied and be made whole, unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, there is a process in place that must be followed in order to give force and effect to the collection process.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I love being an estate planning attorney. I’ve been involved in many other areas of the law but no other area has provided the same satisfaction to me that I get from helping my clients create a well-written and well-thought-out estate plan that provides protections for them while they are alive and allows them to plan for their family and loved ones after they are gone.

One of the areas that provides the most satisfaction to me is when I’m able to help parents who have young children. The reason I get so much satisfaction from this is because when we are done, I can see the relief my clients feel knowing they have a good plan in place that will take care of their children.

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

I had an interesting collections issue arise the other day that is worth discussing.  A self-represented judgment creditor was attempting to garnish a judgment debtor’s wages.  The judgment creditor had repeatedly served a Writ of Continuing Garnishment on the judgment debtor’s employer, just to have the writ returned each time, unsatisfied.  The judgment creditor was naturally frustrated because they had expended a considerable amount of emotional energy, time, effort and expense in the repeated attempts to collect upon the judgment; all for naught.

As I listened and the related facts unfolded, the reason as to why the Writ of Continuing Garnishment was not being accepted became apparent.  There were two problems.  One (1), the judgment debtor was not an employee, but rather, an independent contractor.  Two (2), because the judgment debtor was an independent contractor, a Writ of Continuous Garnishment was the improper mechanism to garnish the amounts due to the independent contractor, from the independent contractor’s creditor.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an Idaho estate planning and probate attorney, I often meet with clients during a free 30-minute consultation to talk about probate. Many times, these clients have moved to Idaho from other states. Additionally, I often have clients who have lived in Idaho most of their lives but who have family members who live in other states. In both of these circumstances I have come across many individuals who have stated that they want to avoid probate in any way possible because they have heard how horrible, long and expensive probate can be.

I’ve always grateful whenever I have a client express these concerns to me because it gives me an opportunity to talk about the probate process in Idaho. Idaho is one of those unique states where probate is really not that bad. Because of this, unless there is a real compelling reason, which rarely exists, it is really not that bad for most families to complete the probate process when they have a loved one pass away.

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

One of the first things I discuss with new clients whom are seeking legal representation to collect money from their debtors is whether the debtor has any assets that can be collected upon.  In my opinion, an attorney taking on a new client in this circumstance, without initially exploring collection opportunities or options, is performing a great dis-service to the client.  The client came to the attorney in the hopes of being paid that for which they are entitled.  If all that is obtained is a “toilet-paper” judgment, then what has the client gained?  Now of course I realize and recognize that sometimes the collectability of a pursued judgment cannot always be readily discovered, but there should at least be some attempt to see if collection is even going to be a possibility.

When performing the due diligence of exploring debtor’s assets, the investigation should take place with an eye on what assets may be subject to exemptions.  Now just because there are or may be statutory exemptions in place pertaining to the debtor’s property, that does not necessarily mean that one should avoid pursuing the debtor’s property.  It is up to the debtor to assert the claim of exemption and to do it timely.  If this is not done, the creditor may continue to execute/levy/garnish the property.  Some of the exemptions available to debtors are:

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