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Five Common Questions About Idaho Wills

With over 70 years of experience in assisting clients and creating their own customized Idaho estate plans, we have answered numerous questions from clients about Wills. A last will and testament is a legal estate planning document that most people are familiar with because they’ve heard about them from family or they’ve seen them portrayed on TV or in movies. In essence, a last will and testament is the document that you use to specifically state who you want your money, property, and valuable assets to go to after you die.

At the Racine Olson Law Firm, we have created highly respected team of Idaho estate planning attorneys with the experience and knowledge necessary to assist you in creating your own personalized estate plan which will include a last will and testament. Our team of Idaho lawyers consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys has been reviewed by judges, other attorneys, and most importantly clients and each has received the highest ratings possible on several legal ranking services including Justia, AVVO and Martindale & Hubbell. With our skills and experience we are confident that our team can help you.

Because of the importance of a last will and testament as part of your Idaho estate plan, our goal is to help our clients understand how a last will and testament can help them. Here are five common questions that are clients frequently asked us about how a last will and testament works, and whether they will need one as a part of their Idaho estate plan.

1. Will the State get My Property if I Don’t Have a Will?

There is a common misconception among many of our clients that if they do not have a last will and testament that all of their property will end up going to the government. This is simply not true. Most States, including Idaho, have specific statutes that prepare and provide a default last will and testament for you if you do not have one for yourself. These statutes create what we call the laws of intestacy.

While the short answer is that even without a will your property, money, and assets will be distributed through the laws of intestacy, the distributions that are made without a will may not be exactly what you would want for your family and loved ones. More importantly, without a personalized written will, you do not have the ability to nominate the individual or persons who will be acting as your personal representative after you pass away. Additionally, without a written last will and testament, family or loved ones may fight about who gets which assets. Creating your own customized last will and testament is the only way to make sure that your specific wishes are carried out after you are gone.

2. Can I Disinherit a Person by Leaving Them $1.00?

Another question we get frequently is about how disinheritance works. Often we have clients who ask us if they can leave just $1 to a certain individual and disinherit them from the remainder of their estate. The short answer to this question is yes, you can disinherit an individual by leaving them only $1. However, the real answer is that you needn’t leave a person anything if you plan to disinherit them.

Under current Idaho law any individual can be disinherited from an estate when it comes to your sole and separate property. Community property is a little bit different because your spouse already has an interest in it equal to one half its value.

Additionally, if you leave an individual $1 from your estate just to disinherit them you will require your personal representative to track this person down and deliver the $1 to them. The expenses of doing this could easily eclipse the value of the $1 that you are giving as a gift. In other words, assets from the estate would be used to track that individual down and deliver to them the $1. As a result, it could cost several hundred dollars from the estate simply to distribute that $1. The better way would simply be to disinherit them without giving them anything.

3. If I Have a Trust do I Need a Will?

Many times we will have clients ask us whether they still need to have a last will and testament if they have a trust as part of their estate plan. The answer to this question is yes. Even though the will may not be necessary for distributing property, it may still be necessary to get the property into the trust after you die so it can then be distributed through your trust.

We have found through our experience that many individuals who have a trust set up don’t actually fund the trust by transferring assets into it before they die. Additionally, even if you are an individual who has funded your trust, because you are still alive you may still be obtaining assets, money, or property outside of your trust. For both of these reasons we always suggest that an individual have what we call a pour-over will in addition to having their trust. By doing this we can make sure that all of our clients property will be transferred into the trust before being distributed based on the language in the trust after you die.

4. Do I have to Share My Will With My Spouse or Children?

Another question we are often asked after assisting a client in completing their Idaho estate planning is whether they are required to share their documents with their spouse or their children. The answer to this question is no. Estate planning is the personal property of the person who creates it. As a result, they are not required to share copies of it or even what is contained in it with any other individual if they choose to keep it secret.

However, we often recommend to our clients that they share their estate planning with their spouse and perhaps with other loved ones even if it’s just in a summary form. The reason we do this is because in your documents you have named specific people that you want to do specific things for you. The law does not require any individual to do what they are asked to do in a last will and testament or in other documents in your estate plan. For this reason, if you don’t share your intentions with those individuals you are asking to help you, when the time comes for their help they may say no.

Any individual can refuse to do what you have asked them to do. If this happens, your estate planning could be thwarted to a degree. You may end up with an individual that you would have never chosen as your personal representative simply because you failed to share your estate planning with those you wanted to be your personal representative but who refused to do so. By sharing your estate planning with these individuals you can get there reaction and possibly their assurance that they are willing to serve in whatever capacity you are asking.

5. Does Having a Will Avoid Probate?

Finally, many clients ask us whether having a last will and testament will help them avoid probate. The answer to this question is no. The purpose of a last will and testament is not to avoid probate. Rather it is to identify who you want to have named as your personal representative, and to specifically designate the beneficiaries that you are giving your money, property, and valuable assets to after you die. Probate is the legal process where your last will and testament is carried out. Probate is also the legal process where the individual you nominated is legally named as the personal representative of your estate.

Whether you have a written last will and testament or not, probate will be required for your estate in Idaho if you die when you own land or a home. Additionally probate in Idaho is required anytime the assets in your estate equal a value of $100,000 or more regardless of whether your estate includes land or a home. The purpose of a last will and testament is to provide some guidance and assistance in the probate process to make sure that your intentions and wishes are carried out.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning needs including creating a last will and testament. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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