By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having been an Idaho estate planning attorney now for nearly 20 years, I have come to learn that most people don’t think much about estate planning until it’s too late. In fact based on my experience I have found that there are really 3 very common estate planning strategies in Idaho. By understanding what these estate planning strategies are, you can determine which one will fit your needs the best. The three most common estate planning strategies are:

1. The Do Nothing Plan

The most common estate plan that I come across when talking with clients or other individuals is the Do-Nothing Plan. This plan really is simple because it requires no effort. It does require that your family and loved ones deal with your estate without your input or guidance in any way. Often this leads to confusion, family fights, and sometimes even probate litigation.

The Do-Nothing Plan doesn’t require that an estate be small or even large. This type of estate plan can apply to any size of an estate regardless of whether it involves money, real estate or other property, or other valuable assets. Surprisingly, I have found that the Do-Nothing Plan has been utilized by lawyers, doctors, and other professionals, as well as blue collar workers, educators, and other individuals from all walks of life. I have learned that neither education nor income are a determining factor of who employs the Do-Nothing Plan as their estate plan of choice.

It is my opinion that the Do-Nothing Plan should be avoided. It only causes problems and it provides no protection for you while you are alive. For this reason, I suggest you consider using one of the other types of plans.

2. The Simple Estate Plan

The next most common estate plan that I encounter that is used by individuals is the Simple Estate Plan. Again, I have determined that there is no specific demographic that utilizes this particular plan. I have found that this plan is utilized by a variety of individuals through all walks of life regardless of their level of education or income.

The Simple Estate Plan includes a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and Property; and a Living Will & Power of Attorney for Health Care. There is usually nothing fancy about this type of estate plan but it does cover the basic needs that almost every individual has either during their lifetime, or after they pass away.

This type of plan does provide protections to an individual during their life through the powers of attorney. Having a Simple Estate Plan helps this individual avoid the need for a costly guardianship in the event they become disabled later in their life. Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, a Simple Estate Plan eliminates most confusion, family fights, and issues that could arise after you die and that could result in litigation. As a result, individuals who have chosen a Simple Estate Plan usually preserve their estate to be distributed to the individuals that they choose after they die as well as preserving family relationships.

3. The Using a Trust Plan

The next most common plan that is utilized by individuals is the Using a Trust Plan. Individuals that choose this plan do so because they may be concerned about protecting and providing for their minor children, or a loved one who has special needs, or they simply want to simplify the process of their own estate before they pass away. Some individuals that choose the Using a Trust Plan know that doing so will help them avoid the cost and time associated with probate after they die.

Individuals may also choose the Using a Trust Plan when there estate is more complex or has additional things to consider. This could be owning real property in more than one state, or having a desire to provide from their estate for more than one generation in their family.

It is my experience that every person can benefit from having a written and well thought out estate plan. For this reason, we suggest that everybody avoid the Do-Nothing Plan, and choose either the Simple Estate Plan or the Using a Trust Plan based upon their own family needs and circumstances.


When it comes to estate planning, you should never just do nothing. If you have questions about a Simple Estate Plan or a Trust 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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