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4 Estate Planning Tips for Parents with Only 1 Child in Idaho

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

Over the years as an estate planning attorney I’ve had an opportunity to meet with many individuals whose circumstances are quite varied. Some of these individuals have many children and grandchildren, and some of them have none at all. Right in the middle I’ve had some clients who have only one child. This circumstance is unique and requires planning and some deliberate thought.  Here are 4 estate planning tips for parents who have only one child in Idaho.


The first tip is that estate planning does much more than give your property away. More importantly, you have an opportunity to create Powers of Attorney that will have an impact on you during your life. For instance, if you suddenly had an illness or injury in Idaho that left you unable to care for yourself and your own property and finances, your power of attorney lists the individual that you have given the legal ability to make these decisions for you.

People are living much longer now than they ever used to. Also, there are more more people who become disabled in their later years. For these reasons, it is far more important for you to consider your own circumstances while you are alive than it is to consider passing your property to others when you are gone. While passing property to others is important, it does not have nearly the impact on you during your life as the powers of attorney you can create will have.


The second tip is that your property is your own. What I mean by this is that there is no legal obligation in Idaho that requires you to leave any inheritance for your children or for any other person. Part of good Idaho estate planning is assuming that you may have property that you do want to pass to someone else and creating a Last Will and Testament to accomplish this. However, I always comment to my clients that they should plan for themselves and enjoy the use of their own money and property as much as they can while they are alive.


The third tip that I give to my clients is that estate planning is all about hoping for the best but planning for the worst. It is the job of the Idaho estate planning attorney to look down the road of the future and figure out what the worst possible things are that could happen. The Idaho estate planning attorney then takes into consideration these things and helps parents plan for them in a way that will overcome those bad things. It’s more than likely that most of those bad things will never happen. However, without a plan, if those bad things do happen then the parents are in a far worse situation.

For example most parents name their spouse to be their personal representative. After that most parents would name one of their children as a successor. If you only have one child you may name them as your successor personal representative. It’s more than likely that this one child will also be named as your successor heir or beneficiary. Now let’s suppose that your both your spouse and your child pass away before you do. Now we are in a situation where there is nobody who was named as the successor personal representative or the successor heir or beneficiary for your estate.

For this reason we always  encourage our clients to have an Idaho estate plan that has several successors listed in each capacity so that the estate planning can withstand some of the circumstances described above if they were to happen.


The 4th tip I give to parents who have only one child is to use the magic language “Heirs-at-Law” as a way of avoiding having your estate ever land in the hands of the government. If there was no one left to take your a state than the state in which you live has the right to come in and take over those assets. However, by using the magic language heirs at law you are providing that you were estate will go into the hands of somebody that you are related to at some point.

If you are parents with only one child and you have questions about your estate planning, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your Idaho Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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