By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
Having practiced Idaho estate planning law now for nearly 20 years I am passionate about my belief that everyone needs a good estate plan. Whether you are young or old, whether you are married or single, and whether you have heirs or not, Idaho estate planning includes far more than just a plan for giving away your money, property, and assets to someone else. Rather, the entire focus and goal of estate planning is to do two specific things for you: (1) protect you while you are alive; and (2) provide a plan for you to distribute your belongings to someone else after you die.
While it’s not common, every once in a while, I do have a client tell me that they have no heirs. Based on this these clients believe that there really is no purpose to their getting their own personal estate planning done. Here are the three reasons I tell people that they should still get their estate planning done even when they have no heirs.
- You Still Need Powers of Attorney
The first and most important reason that a person who has no heirs should still get their estate planning done is that part of their estate plan is to protect themselves while they are alive. When most people hear the term estate planning they think of a last will and testament. This is the document that is designed to do nothing more than distribute your property to other people after you die. However, estate planning when done correctly is designed to protect you more while you are alive than it is designed to give away your property after you die.
In Idaho, every adult has the ability to make decisions about handling their own finances property and other assets while they are alive. So long as they have legal capacity they are free to do with their property and money anything they choose that is legal. However, if an individual loses legal capacity, which is a word lawyers use to mean the ability to understand and make decisions, then the law in Idaho requires someone else to be named to make these decisions for you.
If you have even a basic estate plan you will have power of attorney documents. These documents give you the ability to name individuals who will make decisions for you about your money, property, creditors, healthcare, and other daily life issues if you can no longer make them for yourself.
If you do not have power of attorney documents, then the courts in Idaho are obligated to name a legal guardian for you. This removes your ability to decide who these individuals will be. Even if you have no heirs you can still use your power of attorney documents to name close family friends, trusted professionals, or other individuals that you believe will help you if you need it. Without your power of attorney documents, you are advocating the right to name the individuals you would choose and are placing the full responsibility of deciding who will be named in the hands of the Courts of Idaho.
Frankly, there is no one better situated than you to decide who can best help you. As a result, even if you have no heirs, you should still complete your own basic estate planning documents to protect yourself while you are alive.
- You Do Not Want Your Estate to Go to the Government
The second reason that you should get your estate planning done is that even when you have no heirs you still have the ability to decide who will get your property, money, and assets. If you do not have an estate plan, and you have no legal heirs, then the government will receive your estate. The laws in Idaho require an abandoned estate to be claimed by the government Once obtained, the government is essentially free to do whatever they want with that property.
It is my opinion that the government already has plenty of money and property. There is no reason why the government should be able to get its hands on your money and property too! By having even a basic estate plan you can keep the government from becoming the owner of your property and money after you die which leads us to the next section of this article.
- You Can Distribute Your Estate in Ways That Will Help Others
The third reason that you should have at least a basic estate plan completed for yourself is that you can choose either individuals or charities to receive your property and money after you die. In other words, you still have the ability to benefit someone’s life and help make it better. In most instances, I encourage clients to brainstorm about causes that they believe in and charities that carry out those causes. By doing this, I help provide my clients with a list of charities they can name as the beneficiaries of their estate. In this way, my clients know that they have a plan in place that will provide donations to causes that they believe in which makes the world a better place.
ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
Even if you have no heirs, we can help. When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.