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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As I’ve often stated, whenever a celebrity passes away, I’m always interested in learning about their estate planning and the things their family is doing with their estate. The reason for this is that we can often learn great lessons from celebrities and others who do things both the right way, and the wrong way when it comes to estate planning. Recently, Sean Connery, who portrayed the original 007 James Bond, as well as other memorable big-screen characters, passed away.

It’s estimated that the value of his estate is around $350 million. Additionally, it’s clear that he owned real estate, and other business ventures and assets in several countries. In other words, his estate is likely very complex.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an Idaho estate planning and probate attorney I often help individuals and families through the probate process when a loved one passes away. This usually includes representing the individual who is appointed by the court as the personal representative of the estate. In doing this my job is to make sure that the personal representative completes all the steps necessary in the probate process. Additionally, I make sure that when the probate is completed, we’ve done everything necessary to eliminate any liability that can rest with the personal representative.

One of the basic steps in a probate is to prepare an inventory of the estate. The inventory is nothing more than making a list of all the assets and debts that were owned or owed by the decedent on the day they passed away.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Alex Trebek, the host of the game show Jeopardy recently died. He hosted the Jeopardy game show from 1984 until his death in November of 2020. It is estimated that his net worth is between $50 – $75 million. While there isn’t much information yet about his estate planning, whether he had a last will and testament or whether he had a trust or a series of trusts, one thing is certain. Trebek was generous.

Years before his death, Trebek donated 62 acres of land to Los Angeles for a park. The name of the park is known as the Trebek Open Space. It was gifted by Trebeck to the city of Los Angeles in 1998 and is described as a sunny, well-established network of fire roads, trails, and other spaces that can be used by hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I’ve said it many times but as an estate planning attorney I firmly believe that every person can benefit from having an estate plan completed. It doesn’t matter whether you are old and a millionaire, or young and penniless. Every person can be protected by and can benefit from having a complete plan in place.

A basic estate planning includes a written last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care, and a living will. It may also include one or more trusts depending on the circumstances of yourself, your family, and your loved ones.

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The title of this article is an apt question that I’m often asked by clients. But usually the question is asked in a different way. Usually the question is posed as “Do I need a will?”

The fact is that almost everyone should have a written last will and testament as part of their basic estate plan. This basic estate plan should also include a durable power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care, a living will, and perhaps one or more trusts depending on the circumstances of the individual.

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.

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