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PLANNING YOUR ESTATE? FOCUS ON TESTAMENTARY INTENT

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an estate planning attorney for more than 20 years I’ve helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans. These usually include a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. These estate plans could also include one or more trusts depending on the needs of the client.

Most people I work with know they need an estate plan but many of them don’t know how to begin the process. We do our best to make this as simple and easy as possible. We start by providing our Estate Planning Questionnaire, that we can either email to our clients, mail a hard copy to, or they can download a copy from our web site. This is an easy-to-fill-out pdf document that our clients can type directly into and save to their computer. Once that is done, our clients then either call or e-mail us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation. We use the free consultation to review the Questionnaire, answer questions and discuss the things that are important to our clients when it comes to their own estate plan.

One of the most important things we discuss is testamentary intent. We don’t use that term but our discussion involves it. What we are really talking about here is what it is our clients want to do or accomplish through their estate plan.

According to Idaho law, testamentary intent simply means what it is the individual who creates the will intends to accomplish through the will. As we sit down with our clients, we keep the questions very simple. One of the first questions we ask is “What is it you want to do?” Once we know what it is our clients want to accomplish we can then help craft the estate plan in a way that will do what they want to do.

A follow-up question we often ask our clients is what is it you want to make sure doesn’t happen. This question also helps us understand our client’s testamentary intent. For example, every once in a while, when we ask this question we will have a client say that they do not want a certain family member to receive any part of their estate. In other words, their intention is that their estate go to other people and that this person be excluded from receiving any of their money, property or other assets. This is also called a disinheritance. If a person intends to disinherit someone, this intention has to be set forth specifically in the will to make sure it actually happens.

Usually when there is a legal fight over an estate after a family member or loved one passes away, the focus of the fight is on who will get the money, property, and other assets. When this occurs, the courts in Idaho declare that their only job is to carry out the intent of the person who created the will.

So, if you are considering getting your own estate plan done, the first thing you need to focus on is what do you intend to accomplish. If you can simply identify in your own words what it is you want to do, then the attorney who is assisting you will be able to help you get that done. Also, the more clearly you can state your intent, the less likely there will be any legal fights about your estate after you are gone.

If you have questions or concerns about your own estate planning, and whether you have clearly stated your own intent, we can help. We have assisted numerous clients in the creation of their own customized estate plans. We also review current estate plans with clients to make sure they are correct. We are confident that we can help you too! Contact us today for a free 30-minute consultation or we can answer your questions and help you with your estate plan.

ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU

If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of estate planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lane@racineolson.com. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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