Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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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 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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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for more than 20 years I’m always interested in new stories involving individuals and their estate planning. I always feel like we could learn from both the mistakes and the successes of those individuals around us who have either done things wrong or right. This article is based on Jeffrey Epstein who recently died from suicide in his New York City jail cell after being arrested and imprisoned for his alleged criminal actions involving several female victims who claimed he sexually assaulted them. Mr. Epstein is worth a reported $559 million.

Mr. Epstein passed away without any wife or children and his closest living relative is a brother who appears to be the only person who could claim Mr. Epstein’s estate as an heir. However, with several civil lawsuits already pending and more likely to come from the victims of Mr Epstein, the question has to be asked who will receive Mr. Epstein’s estate?

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an Idaho estate planning lawyer, I regularly have clients bring me an estate plan they created decades before, that they want me to look over for them. Whenever a trust is included, I have a discussion with them to find out if the trust is valid.  I do this because most of the time, these clients don’t know whether their trust was ever funded.

My discussion includes comparing their trust to a pie.  I tell my clients that the documents are like a pie crust that has been made and is ready to have the pie filling put in it.  However, if no pie filling is ever put into the crust, then you don’t really have a pie. Rather you only have a pie crust. The same is true of a trust.  If the only thing that was ever done was the documents, and nothing more, then a trust doesn’t exist at all. There is only an empty pie crust.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years, one of the conversations I have with my clients about their estate planning documents is the fact that the last will and testament is not the most important document they can have. To be sure, the last will and testament is important, but it only becomes valid after a person dies. For this reason, the last will and testament really has no impact on a person while they are alive. Rather, the other documents that should be included as part of a basic estate plan could have an impact on each person while they are alive which makes them far more important. These documents include a durable power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care, and the document that is the focus of this article which is the living will.

Some people call the living will a healthcare directive. These documents are pretty much the same thing. They give you the ability to provide specific instructions to your doctors and healthcare providers if you are ever in a situation where you are on life support. The instructions you leave can tell your doctors whether you do want to be kept on life support, or whether you want them to turn those machines off and let you have a normal and natural death.

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