By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Many years ago there was a famous late night commercial about a rotisserie chicken cooker. The famous slogan that was used over and over again during the commercial to sell that item was “Set it and forget it.” While this may be a great slogan for a kitchen gadget, it really is a horrible idea when it comes to your Idaho estate planning and specifically your trust. If you have gone to the effort to create a trust there really are three things you should consider to make sure that your trust does what you want it to do.

1. Make Sure the Paperwork is Complete

As an Idaho estate planning attorney I keep telling myself that I am never going to be surprised by another incomplete trust again. However, I’ll then have a client come in and again I will be surprised. A trust, as part of an estate plan, is like any other estate planning document. In order for it to be effective it needs to be complete. This means that the basic requirements to create a trust must be met.

The basic requirements to create a trust include that there be a grantor who is the person that creates the trust. There must also be a specifically named beneficiary, who is the person who receives the property or money from the trust. Additionally, there must be a stated trust purpose with instructions as to how the trust is to be handled.

If any of these items are missing in the paperwork, the trust may never have actually been created in the first place. For this reason, we suggest that you find a qualified Idaho estate planning lawyer to review your trust. Alternatively, if you are seeking a trust and do not know where to start, we recommend that you find a qualified attorney to help you.

2. Fund Your Trust

The next thing that you should consider if you really want a trust is what will be put into the trust. Getting the paperwork completed is only half of the formula of creating a valid trust. I often tell my clients that getting the paperwork completed is like getting a pie crust ready. However until you put the pie filling into the pie crust you really don’t have a pie at all.

To put the filling into the pie you need to fund your trust. Now this sounds difficult but it really isn’t. As an example, consider for a moment that you have a rental property that you want to be owned by the trust. In order to properly fund the trust you will be required to transfer that rental property so that the owner of it is now the trust. Once you have actually put something into the trust the trust is complete and now is valid in Idaho.

A trust can be funded by money, property, businesses, vehicles, investment accounts, or any other type or kind of real or personal property. The key, is that there is evidence that the trust has now become the owner of these items. If there is no evidence of trust ownership, then the trust may not properly funded, and may not actually exist.

3. Confirm that Your Trustees are Capable and Willing

The final thing that you should consider if you want your trust to be valid and to operate the way that you and intend, is to always make sure that the individuals that you named as your trustees are capable and willing to serve in that appointment. There is no law that will force an individual to act as a trustee if they choose to not do it. A well-crafted trust will list not only a first trustee but also successor trustees so that if the person you’ve chosen cannot do it there will be other individuals who can.

In the event that all of the trustees you’ve listed cannot or will not serve as the trustee, this does not invalidate your trust. The court will find someone who will act as the trustee of your trust to make sure that your intentions are carried out. However, it is far better for you to name individuals that you trust then to have the court appoint a stranger to carry out the trust responsibilities and distributions.


When it comes to a trust, you should never set it and forget it. If you have questions about a trust, or estate planning for yourself or for your family and loved ones, 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 questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.
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