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6 Estate Planning Resolutions You Should Make for 2017

By Lane V. Erickson, Attorney

A new year is always a wonderful opportunity to determine what steps you need to take to protect yourself and your family through your Idaho estate planning. Each year brings change, and our lives and in the lives of those around us. Whether we like it or not these changes need to be addressed and dealt with in a way that will help us move forward productively.  With 2017 upon us here are 6 Idaho estate planning resolutions you should make this year.


Most people are surprised to learn that the retirement accounts they have are not controlled by their Last Will and Testament. Rather, these accounts are held by a third-party through a contract that you signed. Typically, this contract will allow you to name the beneficiaries who will receive your retirement account if you were to pass away. With a new year upon us it is a good time to take a look at all of your retirement accounts and make sure that you have made a designation of beneficiaries. If you have not, or if you need to change them, then update your beneficiaries immediately.


Like retirement accounts, life insurance is vital as a part of your Idaho estate plan. However, your Last Will and Testament again will not control who your life insurance should be paid t0.  Contact your insurance agent and ask them to allow you to review the life insurance that you already have in place to make sure that the beneficiaries listed are the people you want named. Make any adjustments or updates that need to be made.


One of the single kindest things you can do for your family is to obtain a prepaid burial service from a funeral home. This takes the financial burden of paying for your funeral expenses away from your family and allows you to make some decisions about the kind of funeral service and products that you would like. Most people are concerned that if they buy a prepaid funeral service and the funeral home goes out of business that they will be out of the money. However most funeral services that are prepaid these days are an actual insurance contract that is transferable to other funeral homes.


The next thing you should do is really think about your spouse. What we mean by this is think about the things you need to accomplish to make your passing easier on your spouse. Do you have your financial accounts in order? Do you have a last will and testament? Do you have instructions for where your property and valuable items are located? These are just a few of the things that you can do to help your spouse when you are gone.


As with your spouse, you also need to consider your children. If you have minor children then you especially need to make arrangements to have a plan in place for caring and providing for your children if you and your spouse were to pass away. You will need to name Guardians for your children. You may also need to set up a testamentary trust for your minor children to provide financially for them until they reached an age where you feel they are competent to receive a distribution of your estate.


Finally, consider yourself. You will likely live a long time. If you suddenly become incapacitated do you have a plan for who you would need to care for you and your finances and property. You can easily accomplish this by completing durable powers of attorney. If you fail to do this then your family will be required to obtain a guardianship for you through legal proceedings that will be much more time-consuming, will cost much more money, and which could lead to disagreements or arguments within your own family.

These 6 things are the basic estate planning resolutions that every individual should consider in 2017. If you have questions about accomplishing any of these 6 things, 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.

This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer for advice on specific legal issues.

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