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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Being a huge Marvel Comics fan, I was saddened to hear of the death of Chadwick Boseman. Boseman played the character Black Panther in the Marvel movie world. He was a gifted actor and with the stories that are now coming out he also appears to have been a caring and generous human being as well.

However, despite being larger than life, I was stunned, and somewhat amazed, to learn that Boseman died without having a written last will and testament. The star’s widow, Taylor Ledward, filed probate documents in California asking to be appointed as the administrator of Boseman’s estate. Under California law, Ledward was required to file the documents in probate court specifically because Boseman didn’t leave a written will.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Whenever a client consults with me after a family member or loved one has passed away, one of the first questions I always ask is whether there was a written last will and testament. The reason for this, is that a written will can control a number of things that happen after a person passes away. For sake of simplicity, we will mention only two in this article.

The first thing that a will controls is who will be named or listed as the personal representative of the estate. Some people call this person the executor. This individual will be appointed by the court as the personal representative through a probate process. Once this happens, the person who is named as the personal representative has legal authority to take control of all the property of the estate, deal with all the creditors of the decedent, and make all the distributions that need to go to the beneficiaries.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When I meet a person for the first time and mention that I’m an estate planning attorney they usually respond by saying that they’ve been meaning to get their Will done for some time. This is a common response, and an interesting one. I find that most people don’t understand estate planning and believe it is only focused on who gets their money, property, and other assets after they die. In other words, most people believe that estate planning is focused only on death. This isn’t true!

Whenever I meet with a new client to discuss estate planning, I always start the meeting by focusing on how estate planning can help protect and provide for my client while they are alive. I leave the discussions about Wills, and giving gifts after they die, to the very end of the meeting. The reason I do this is because I tell my clients. The most important part of estate planning is helping them while they are alive.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Life is a wonderful thing, but it also brings many challenges. One of the great things about being an estate planning attorney is that it gives me the ability and the opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. By representing clients through numerous probates, and in the creation of their estate plans, I have been given an opportunity to look at the lives of many different individuals. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this experience is that life is always changing.

In other words, as the years roll by, your relationships with people change, where you live may change, the people you are around changes, and the property that you own also changes. In other words, life is not static, and change is the very essence of life.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As with many professions and situations the world of estate planning and probate is filled with many technical terms, steps that need to be completed, and processes that need to be followed, in order for everything to be done right. Having been an estate planning attorney now for over 20 years I understand that my clients will not have the same understanding, knowledge, and experience that I have. The good news is, I use all of these things to benefit and help my clients in every situation they bring to me and with every question they need to have answered.

One of the questions that came up recently from a client was whether an “ancillary probate” needed to be done as part of the administration of their deceased parent’s estate. First of all, I was impressed that my client knew the term “ancillary probate” and was able to ask this specific question. After reviewing the situation, we were able to determine that an ancillary probate was not necessary.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

One of the most important jobs I perform as an estate planning and probate lawyer is helping my clients determine when and if a probate is required. While doing this, I often find some misunderstandings exist. For example, some clients erroneously believe that if there is a written last will and testament then there is no need to complete a probate. This is not true.

Regardless of whether there is or isn’t a written Will, a probate is required in Idaho anytime a person individually owns any type or kind of an interest in real estate, or even if there is no real estate that is owned, a probate is still required when the total value of the individual’s estate is worth $100,000 or more when they die.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I love living in Idaho. Not only is it a picturesque and beautiful state it also has very favorable laws when it comes to estate planning and probate. Additionally, the costs for getting these things done is lower than just about any other state.

Having been an estate planning and probate attorney for more than 20 years, I’ve completed my fair share of probates. I am also licensed in Utah and have had an opportunity to become familiar with the estate planning and probate laws of several surrounding states. Because of this, I can tell you with certainty, that Idaho is a special place.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for over 20 years I have heard all the excuses when it comes estate planning. However, the biggest myth that exists and the one that I hear regularly is that a person feels like they don’t need to get an estate plan done. I suppose if that person has a crystal ball and has a perfect view of what their future holds this may be true. However, without a crystal ball, or some other way of knowing exactly what your future is going to be like, then I would suggest to you that your future is uncertain. The uncertainties of life are exactly why you should get your estate planning done.

It is possible that at some point in your future you may lose the ability to make decisions for yourself about your money, property, and other assets as well. This could come in the form of an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease or some other type of Dementia or it could be the result of an injury. Making decisions about your stuff, is the main function of a durable power of attorney document while you are alive. This document gives you the ability to name somebody who will take care of these things for you, if you can no longer do that for yourself.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having been an estate planning attorney now for over 20 years, I can tell you that each of my clients had concerns and questions about creating their own estate plan. Perhaps the most important question these clients discuss with me is who they should name as the guardians of their children, if they were to die at a time when their children are still young.

Idaho law allows a parent to nominate one or more guardians for their minor aged children in their last will and testament. A nomination made by a parent in this way has the highest priority of appointment by the courts.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Like most people, I’m often asked what I do for a living. When I tell people that I am an estate planning attorney, the most common response I hear is, “I really need to get my estate planning done.” In other words, most people recognize that estate planning is important, but they do not actually get it done. I’ve thought about this a lot and wondered why it is that most people do not get their estate planning done. I am pretty sure I know the answer.

Like most things, when it comes to estate planning, people don’t get it done because they don’t know how to start. Let’s face it, if estate planning was easy for everyone to understand and do then everyone would already have it done. For most people it’s not easy because they don’t know what they need to do.

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