By Lave V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will know by now about the death of our 41st President George H. W. Bush, which occurred on Friday, November 30th, 2018. President Bush is fondly referred to as 41 by news media and by close family and friends. On Tuesday, December 4th, his last will and testament was filed in the Probate Court in Texas.

I’ve had a chance to review his last will and testament and there are several things that we can learn from it. The purpose of this article is to outline the things that we can learn from 41’s death concerning how he had his estate planning set up.

Who You Name as Executor is Important

The first thing that we can learn is how important it is to have your executor name precisely. In his last will and testament, President Bush first name his wife as his executor. In the event she was unable to act as the executor even named his sons George Junior and Jeb as co-executors. But President Bush didn’t stop there. He also nominated additional successor executors if those he had previously chosen were unable or unwilling to serve.

What we can learn from this is how important it is to have a good plan of succession in place for all of the appointments that are made in your estate planning. These appointments could include who the executor will be just like they were for President Bush. There could be other appointments that are equally as important. You may need Guardians for your minor age children. You may need Trustees for a trust that you may set up in your will. And even though it’s not part of your last will and testament, you should also have individuals and successors name to handle your powers of attorney.

How You Set Up Your Estate Plan Should Be Based on Your Circumstances

The next thing we can learn is how important it is to have your estate plan reflect your circumstances. It is estimated that President Bush’s estate is valued at $25 million or more. As a result, his estate will be more complex than it would be for most individuals. It reading his last will and testament you can see that there are a couple of different named trusts that he set up as part of his estate planning.

While the rest of us may not have as comprehensive an estate as President Bush, we may still have a need for trusts or other specific estate planning documents based on our own personal needs. If we are parents with young children we should set up a Minor’s trust to care for our children financially if we are no longer alive. We should also consider naming Guardians for those same children. Regardless of our circumstances we should think about what they are specifically so that our estate planning will meet our own individual needs.

Keep You Estate Plan Updated

The final lesson that can be learned from President Bush’s death is the importance of keeping our estate plan updated. President Bush’s last will and testament was created in April of 2009. This means more than nine years went by since he updated his last will and testament. This is pushing the envelope on how much time should go by before updating an estate plan. The reason for this is that life is always changing. Because of this, our circumstances, and the circumstances of our family and loved ones are likely also changing. Based on this, it is important for us to keep our estate plan updated so that it meets the needs that currently exists.


If you do not have an estate plan in place, or if you have questions about estate planning 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 consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lve@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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