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By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The real purpose of estate planning is to meet your specific individual needs. In other words, there really is no cookie-cutter approach that can benefit every single person because each person is unique and different. As a result, a good estate plan will take into consideration all of your peculiar, individualized, and unique circumstances and then create a plan that will meet your needs.

As an estate planning attorney for the last 20 years I have seen just about every type and kind of estate plan that a person can come up with. I usually see these after the person has passed away and their family or other loved ones are coming to me for advice or counsel on what they need to do. As I have helped my clients and their families through this process, I have come to realize that there really are only three types of plans that exist when it comes to estate planning. These plans are listed below along with my comments about whether they are good or not.

  1. The Plan to Do Nothing

The first type of estate plan that I regularly come across that is the plan to do nothing. The reality is that whether you think you have an estate plan or not you really do. The plan to do nothing, is simple because it requires no effort or work on your part. However, after you die, your family and other loved ones may have a lot of work that they have to do to make up for your lack of planning.

The do nothing plan means that you die intestate. This is a fancy legal word that lawyers use that simply means that you do not have a written estate plan at all. When this happens, the statutes in Idaho control who will be appointed as your personal representative, and who will be the beneficiaries of your estate.

It may be surprising to you to learn that just about any type of person, from any walk of life may have chosen the do nothing plan. This includes lawyers, accountants, doctors, and other professionals as well as educators, blue-collar workers and any other individual that you can think of.

The do-nothing plan is a poor plan which should be avoided at all costs. Even though it may be easy for you, it creates large problems for your family and loved ones after you die. As a result, this is not the best choice of plan for you or for your family.

  1. The Basic Plan

The second type of plan that I often see is what I called the basic plan. Usually this includes only a last will and testament document. While not ideal, this is far better than the do-nothing plan because at least there is some plan even though it may not be complete.

The last will and testament document is important, but it is only one of the many types of documents that a person should have as part of their estate planning. The reason for this is that the last will and testament document only becomes effective and valid under Idaho law after a person dies. This means that the person has no estate planning documents that are designed to provide specific protections to them while they are alive.

Again, this plan is not ideal but it is better than nothing. However, if you want to be protected while you are alive in addition to giving away your property and money after you die, you should consider the Thorough Plan.

  1. The Thorough Plan

The thorough estate plan is the best plan of all for everyone. This type of estate plan is in writing and includes a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. This type of plan could also include various kinds of truss that may be needed for yourself or for specific family members who are young, or who may have a disability or other handicap. Additionally, this type of plan usually includes very thorough instructions from you to your family members and loved ones as well as an organized and well-thought-out compilation of your other important documents.

The thorough estate plan takes into consideration all of your unique needs. It then works to meet your needs and to take care of the things that you specifically intend to accomplish.

Every individual is valuable. Every individual has an estate that should be well thought-out and well taken care of both while they are alive and after they pass away. A thorough estate plan is the way to accomplish this. We have helped numerous clients complete a thorough estate plan and we are confident that we can help you too!


Even if you have no heirs, we can help. When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, 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 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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