By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
The title of this article is an apt question that I’m often asked by clients. But usually the question is asked in a different way. Usually the question is posed as “Do I need a will?”
The fact is that almost everyone should have a written last will and testament as part of their basic estate plan. This basic estate plan should also include a durable power of attorney, a power of attorney for health care, a living will, and perhaps one or more trusts depending on the circumstances of the individual.
This is true regardless of whether you’re single or married, old or young, or whether you have children. Additionally, once you have a written will, it’s important that you keep it updated throughout your lifetime based on the changes that you may go through during your life. In fact, there’s only a narrow group of people who likely wouldn’t have a written will or other estate planning documents. Under Idaho law, this group is considered to be those who lack capacity.
An incapacitated person, under Idaho law, is a person who does not have the legal ability to enter into a contract, be bound by legal obligations, or be capable of doing the sorts of things that a person with capacity can do. Again, this is a narrow group of people. So, who exactly fits into this category? There are really only two kinds of people who do.
The first kind of person who fits into this category is a person who is a minor. In other words, the person is not recognized as a legal adult. Under Idaho law this is any person who is under the age of 18 years. This type of person is not capable of entering into a valid written will. Because of this, we do not create an estate plan for anyone who is not 18 years of age or older.
The second kind of person who fits into this category is someone who has a handicap or disability that is severe enough to make them incapacitated. In other words, this person is over the age of 18, but because of their handicap or disability they continue to lack the capacity that a non-handicapped person has. This usually requires a court decree declaring the person to be incapacitated. Usually, this happens whenever a guardianship proceeding is completed through court proceedings and a guardian or conservator is appointed for this person through a court decree. In this instance, this person does not have the ability to enter into a written will.
So there you have it, if you are over the age of 18 and you don’t have a severe handicap or disability, then you are the type of person that should have at least a basic estate plan which would include a written will.
If you don’t know how to start, we make the process easy. Download our free Estate Planning Questionnaire. This document allows you to pull together all the information you need to begin making decisions about your own estate plan.
After this, we can help you schedule a free 30-minute consultation with us. During this consultation we review and answer your specific questions. We can then discuss the estate planning options you have depending on what you want to accomplish. We encourage you to start today
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.