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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

During my 20 years of experience in helping my clients complete their estate planning I often have unusual and interesting conversations with them. Several weeks ago I decided to ask my clients one simple question. The answers from the question that I asked is what creates the content for this blog today. The question that I asked my clients was: “What is the single best estate planning tip you ever received?” In order of popularity or frequency, here are the 4 best estate planning tips my clients say they ever received from other people.

PUT IT IN WRITING

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

We’ve all been there. It’s something that seems to happen to me quite often. That is I will meet someone new and they will ask me what I do for a living. After I explained that I have been an estate planning attorney for nearly 20 years I will usually get one of two reactions. The first reaction is that the person I have just met will ask me questions about estate planning and tell me that they really need to get it done. The second and usually the most common reaction is that I will have the individual say to me “I really don’t need to get my estate planning done because my family knows what I want and they will take care of it.”

When I was young I would try to explain to these individuals that no their family really didn’t know what they wanted. I’ve come to learn though that trying to convince somebody that they need to get their estate planning done is pretty much the same as the dentist telling them they need to floss more often. People hear it, I think they understand it, I think they may even agree with me about it, but they usually don’t do it.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

After working as a estate planning attorney for nearly 20 years it has become clear to me that we can often learn great lessons from famous people. We are nearing the second anniversary of the death of the musician Prince who died in April 2016 at the age of 57 from an accidental overdose. After several reports it appears that Prince’s estate will top out somewhere between $250 million and $300 million dollars. It is difficult to tell the total value of his estate because sales of his music have spiked since his death. Even though it has been two years since his death, there are several lessons that we can still learn from Prince that can assist us with our own estate planning. Here are three of those specific lessons:

  1. Have a Written Estate Plan
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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Many people I’ve talked to during my 20 years of working as an estate planning attorney seem to believe that going through probate is worse than dying. I can understand why many people would feel this way. Most people talk to family and friends and usually it’s only fun to talk about horror experiences rather than good experiences. As a result at your family party or when you’re talking with your friends over the phone or looking at Facebook stories generally all you hear about are the worst case scenarios when it comes to probate.

Nevertheless there may be some legitimate reasons to avoid probate. The biggest one that most people can think of is simply privacy. The second biggest reason is because of the expense associated with probate. Finally, some people want to avoid probate because they simply do not understand it and they believe that it’s worse than getting a root canal, being audited for taxes, and speaking in public, all rolled into one. If you are convinced that you want to avoid probate here are the three ways that you can do it:

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

We live in a day and age when traveling has never been easier or more available than it is today. Through modern technology the speed of travel has increased and a person can literally find themselves in any major city in the world within a short time. As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years I have had numerous clients ask me about what they should do with their estate planning documents when they travel. Below is a list of the three main documents included in a person’s basic estate plan and what should be done with these documents while traveling.

  1. Your Powers of Attorney
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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

With nearly 20 years of experience in assisting clients with their estate planning and helping their families with probate issues later, I have seen numerous problems that arise with property that is held by a person who passes away. It seems to be more and more common that nobody wants your stuff. The main reason for this seems to be the generation gap and the difference this brings to what each generation believes is valuable and worth owning.

We often help our clients work through these issues while they are alive so that they don’t become a big problem after they die. Here are three specific things that you should know about giving your property away to your family after you die.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Over the 20 years that I have worked as an estate planning attorney I have helped numerous clients complete probate for their parents after they have died. Just recently I had a client come into my office for help with a probate. During our conversation about probate, this client asked me, somewhat despondently, “What am I going to do with all this junk.” My client’s reaction to dealing with the property that was left by their deceased parent is not uncommon.

There is no answer that will help every single person who is dealing with this problem. However, through my years of experience I have come up with four tips on dealing with your parent’s property that may help you.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The world has changed dramatically in the 20 years that I have practiced as an estate planning attorney. When I first began, computers were still relatively new as a tool to be used by an attorney. Additionally the Internet was in its infancy and was used for little more than a resource such as an encyclopedia. But that is all changed now. The Internet is an important part of every person’s life today. This importance also now includes a person’s estate planning. Here are three important things that you should know about how the Internet has or could affected your estate planning and what you should do about it.

1. Social Media

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

While being independent and trying to do things yourself is a good idea in most instances, when it comes to estate planning, it can be a big mistake. As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years I have seen countless estate plans individuals have attempted to complete on their own. In many instances these estate planning documents do nothing but create confusion and problems for the individual and for their family. Worse, in many instances the documents aren’t even valid.

While many people may think it is self-serving because I am an estate planning attorney, there are legitimate reasons why you should not attempt to do your own estate planning. Here are three of the main reasons:

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

We all love to watch the glitz and glitter in the lives of celebrities and envision our lives being similar to theirs. For some reason, many of us believe that celebrities have the perfect life. While I don’t know whether celebrities have a perfect life, I can tell you with some assurance that many of them make serious mistakes when it comes to their own estate planning. As an estate planning attorney my goal is to help my clients avoid making similar mistakes. Here are three serious estate planning mistakes celebrities have made in their lives that you can learn from.

1. Consider Your Debts

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