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How Does Inheritance Work in Idaho

An inheritance occurs in Idaho when a parent or grandparent passes away and leaves property, money, or other assets to their children or grandchildren. However, it's important to understand that any individual can inherit property from any other individual at any time if the circumstances are right. For over 70 years our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have assisted family members in creating a written Idaho estate plan to provide an inheritance to their children or grandchildren. We take pride in the fact that we have helped numerous clients either give or receive an inheritance.

In an interesting survey of Americans who are currently in retirement it was reported that these retired individuals expected to leave an average of about $177,000 to their heirs as an inheritance. Whether you are a person expecting to leave an inheritance for others or an individual who thinks they may receive an inheritance here are three things you should understand about how an inheritance works in Idaho.

Inheritance When There is no Last Will and Testament

Regardless of whether you desire to give or are anticipating receiving an inheritance, the first thing that you should know is how an inheritance works in Idaho when there is no written last will and testament. Idaho's uniform probate statutes contains a section that deals with how property passes from a person who dies to those who are still alive when there is no written will. These are called Idaho's intestate succession statutes and are found at Idaho Code §§ 15-2-101 et seq. This title makes sense because the word "intestacy" means the person died without a written Will.

Under Idaho's intestacy statutes preference is given to the spouse of the person who died. For this reason if a person is married when they died and they do not have a will their spouse will receive all community property from the decedent, and 1/2 of all separate property. The decedent's children, or parents, if they are alive, will receive the other 1/2 of the property.

These distributions from the estate of the person who died without a written last will and testament are automatic. In other words, it doesn't matter whether the person who died would have wanted these distributions to have been made nor note. The statutes will control and these distributions will be made. Because distributions under the laws of intestacy are automatic, and because they may not be what each person once, we recommend that every person should have their own written last will and testament so that the intestate statutes can be avoided.

Inheritance When a Last Will and Testament Does Exist

When there is a written last will and testament things are very different. Idaho law recognizes that each individual has the ability to create their own written last will and testament that will provide specific instructions about who does and who does not inherit their estate after they die. Additionally, the laws in Idaho specifically declare that so long as a written last will and testament is valid, Idaho law will do everything in its power to see that the individual's intent and instructions about the inheritance they are leaving are carried out.

With a written last will and testament an individual can be very specific about who will inherit their property after they die. They have the ability to name individuals specifically, or to leave an inheritance of money or property to a charity, or to create some other mechanism that will distribute their property, money, and assets to whoever they specifically name. As a result, the individual who has the written last will and testament has complete control over who will inherit their estate.

The probate process is the mechanism used in Idaho to present a Will to a court and to authorize the distribution of the estate as the decedent described in his last will and testament. A probate cannot last forever. Distributions from an estate when there is a last will and testament are usually made fairly quickly.

Inheritance When There is a Trust

Inheritance works a little bit differently when there is a trust as part of the estate planning. A trust is an estate planning tool used by individuals who may not want a distribution of an inheritance to be made quickly to the individual they name as their heir. For example, an individual may have minor age to children. It is not necessarily wise to give minor age children a large sum of money or property while they are still minors. Because of this, I trust could be used to hold the inheritance and to use it for the benefit of the air until they reach an age or circumstance described in the trust where the inheritance will be paid outrightly to them.

A trust could be used for minor age children, or for individuals who have a disability, or four family members who may be struggling financially or with other problems. Additionally, a trust is a tool used in Idaho estate planning to provide an inheritance for multiple generations of individuals such as children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. In circumstances where an individual wants to leave a multi-generational inheritance, a trust is one of the only mechanisms that can be used effectively.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys at the Racine Law Office includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each lawyer on our team has received outstanding reviews from other judges, attorneys, and most importantly from clients, who recognize the skill and experience of our estate planning team. We are confident that we can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with a probate. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or are in need of a Probate for a loved one who has passed, 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 with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho state Planning and Probate problems.

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