By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an attorney who has practiced Idaho estate planning and probate law for the last 20 years I am always interested in stories about families and individuals when it comes to their estate planning. Often these new stories include celebrities who have either done something really well or have made some terrible mistake in their estate planning that was only discovered after they passed away and that resulted in serious problems for those who are left behind. However, every once in a while a different kind of story is reported on. Recently I read the news about the well-known movie director John Singleton. At a young age he wrote the screenplay for and then later directed the movie Boyz n the Hood for which he became both the first African American and the youngest person to have ever been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director.

As it turns out, at the age of 51, Mr Singleton suffered a stroke which ended up requiring him to be placed on life support. The main reason the story caught my attention was because it contained an announcement by his family that they had made the decision to take him off life support and that they didn’t expect that he would live afterwards. In fact, Mr Singleton did pass away shortly after life support was removed.

The reason the story was interesting to me was because it highlighted the need for every individual to have a complete estate plan done for them, including having a living will. A living will is a legal document that allows you to provide specific instructions to your family, loved ones, and more particularly to your medical and healthcare providers about what you do want and what you do not want to happen in the event you are in the same situation that Mr Singleton was in. In other words, rather than placing the burden of making a decision about leaving on or turning off life support to your family, you get to make that decision yourself and have your wishes written out in your living will. When this occurs, your family, loved ones, and your medical and healthcare providers are required to follow the specific written instructions that you have left.

As with Mr Singleton, if you do not have a living will completed as part of your estate planning, then end-of-life decisions fall on the shoulders of your family and loved ones. This is an incredible burden for your family to have. Additionally, your family may not all agree on what the best course of action is which could lead to family fights about who should actually be making the decision in the first place. Again, all of this can be avoided if you have a complete estate plan which would include a living will.

I encourage everyone I meet and everyone I know to complete their own estate planning. My experience has shown me that doing so saves a lot of time and a lot of money. Additionally, having a complete estate plan usually eliminate circumstances where family and loved ones could disagree and fight over what needs to be done. Most importantly, by having a complete estate plan you reserve for yourself the ability to make your own decisions.


Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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