Articles Posted in Estate Planning

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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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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I have been an estate planning attorney now for more than 20 years. I’ve helped numerous clients in every aspect of estate planning that can be imagined. I’ve learned a few things about the importance of estate planning documents and how they can provide protection for you while you are alive. As a result, when I meet with clients, I often have a conversation with them where I help them understand the fact that while their last will and testament is important, it is not the most important document they should have in their estate planning. During this discussion I help my clients understand why the power of attorney for health care could be one of the most important documents they have as part of their estate plan.

To be sure, the power of attorney for health care is just one of the several documents that each person should have as part of their basic estate plan. The other documents would include the last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, and a living will. It’s also possible that an individual may need a trust to take care of minor age children or individuals who have disabilities or special needs. Additionally, some individuals also like to use a trust as a way of avoiding probate for themselves.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

It happened again this weekend.  I attended a block party for the members of our Home Owner’s Association and met several new people that had recently moved into our neighborhood. Inevitably, after introductions were done “the” question was asked: “What do you do for a living?” I answered that I am an attorney.  “What kind of law do you practice?” My basic answer is almost always the same: “I have the best job in the world. I get to help people do their estate planning.”

Once I have opened that door the discussion usually goes one of two directions.  First, the other person usually says that they need to get their estate planning done and that they have been thinking about it for years.  Second, the other person will tell me a story about what happened in their family or with a close friend who did not have their estate planning done. It is usually a vivid description of the all out war that followed the death of their loved one.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I have been an estate planning attorney now for more than 20 years. I’ve helped numerous clients in every aspect of estate planning that can be imagined. I’ve learned a few things about the importance of estate planning documents and how they can provide protection for you while you are alive. As a result, when I meet with clients, I often have a conversation with them where I help them understand the fact that while their last will and testament is important, it is not the most important document they should have in their estate planning. During this discussion I help my clients understand why the power of attorney for health care could be one of the most important documents they have as part of their estate plan.

To be sure, the power of attorney for health care is just one of the several documents that each person should have as part of their basic estate plan. The other documents would include the last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, and a living will. It’s also possible that an individual may need a trust to take care of minor age children or individuals who have disabilities or special needs. Additionally, some individuals also like to use a trust as a way of avoiding probate for themselves.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Over the past three years that we have provided this estate planning blog on our firm’s website we have often discussed instances where celebrities are other famous people have made serious mistakes with their estate planning. These mistakes range from either not having any estate planning done at all, to having a confusing estate plan that does nothing but cause contention and disputes between the person’s family members and loved ones. It’s easy to pick on celebrities because they are so visible. However, to be fair, we have also provided many articles about things that many celebrities have done right.

In today’s article we are going to discuss a celebrity who did things right. This celebrity is Burt Reynolds who passed away in the fall of 2018 at the age of 82. As with many celebrities, upon his death there were many articles having to do with his estate planning. Some of these articles stated that he had disinherited his son because his last will and testament had a sentence in it that stated the following: “I intentionally omit my son from this my last will and testament as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.” In other words, it appears that Burt Reynolds used a living trust as part of his estate plan.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney in Idaho one of the things I like to do is talk with parents about ways they can use their estate planning to provide an incentive to their children to be productive and to contribute to society. In other words, I think it is unwise for a parent to leave a large inheritance of money, property, or other assets to a young child or even a young adult. The reason for this is because it usually steals away from that individual the drive and desire for them to be successful on their own.

To be sure, it’s possible that you could have an unusual child. They may receive millions of dollars from you and it wouldn’t affect their desire to be successful on their own. However, this is a rare case. In fact, it’s so rare that it almost never happens. This brings us to the focus of this particular blog which has to do with Gloria Vanderbilt.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I love my job! I get to spend my days helping individuals create estate plans that will both protect them while they are alive and provide a plan for distributing their money, property, and other assets to their family members and other loved ones after they pass away. I also get to work with family members after a loved one has passed away so they can complete the necessary probate process required by Idaho law. In other words, I get to use my expertise to help individuals who do not know what they need to do in order to move forward after they have lost a loved one.

In helping families complete the probate process, I am often asked this simple question: What does a Personal Representative do? The purpose of this article is to provide a short answer to this often asked question. However, first I want to explain how a personal representative is chosen.

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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I am a fan of both estate-planning and Star Trek. I grew up with Star Trek as a kid and watched every episode I could. Additionally, cover for the last 20 years I have worked as an estate planning attorney in Idaho helping individuals customize and create their own estate plans to meet their needs and help them avoid problems in the future. It’s for this reason that I was fascinated by the recent story of actress Nichelle Nichols who played the character of Lt. Nyota Uhura on the original “Star Trek” television series in the 1960s.

The 85-year-old actress was recently diagnosed with “moderate progressive dementia”, according to her doctor. Specifically, Nichols’ doctor described her condition as “major impairment of her short-term memory and moderate impairment of understanding abstract concepts, sense of time, place and immediate recall.”

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