By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned through my nearly 20 years of experience as an estate planning attorney it is that death affects us all. It cannot permanently be avoided. This was reinforced to me personally when my aunt recently passed away. My family and I traveled to her memorial service where we were able to enjoy seeing family and friends that we haven’t visited with for some time. As I reflected on the events surrounding my aunt’s death and memorial service, there were three specific lessons that I learned from my aunt about estate planning.

1. Plan Ahead

The first lesson I learned was the importance of planning ahead. As part of the memorial service my cousin spoke about the papers that my aunt had left behind. These papers included her estate plan as well as specific instructions related to the memorial service, dealing with her debts, and making distributions to those around her that she loved.

My cousin actually read a few paragraphs from the page of instructions that my aunt had left. It was both humorous, and instructive about what her family needed to do after she passed away. The most important takeaway that I had from this experience was that my aunt had a well-thought-out and complete plan. There was no confusion, and there was no misunderstanding because my aunt’s instructions and directions in her estate plan were complete and specific. Her family knew exactly what they were supposed to do, who they were supposed to contact, and how her estate was to be handled. This made the process for her family very simple and much easier to deal with particularly as they mourned her passing.

2. Keep it Simple

The second lesson that I learned from this experience was the importance of keeping your estate plan as simple as possible. My aunt was a highly educated and very successful professional during her life. However rather than trying to impress everybody with how smart she was, her estate plan and her instructions were very simple to read and to understand. Additionally, my aunt had taken extra steps of organizing much of her property and valuable items so that they would be easy to locate and to distribute after her passing. Likewise, my aunt had gone through her belongings and had already given away a good deal of those things that no longer held any value to her and we’re simply clutter. She thinned out her belongings and kept it all very simple.

3. Remember It’s More about Love Than Stuff

Perhaps the biggest lesson I took away from my aunt’s passing was her desire to let her family know that she loved them. As my cousin red from the pages of the specific instructions that my aunt had left there were several declarations of love to her children and grandchildren. My aunt specifically let her family know that among all the things that she had ever owned during her life her family was the most precious and priceless to her.


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 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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