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How Idaho Estate Planning can Help You Avoid Family Fights

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When meeting with clients we often tell them that one of the main purposes of completing their estate planning is to make sure that there will be no family fights that arise after they pass away. Our goal in helping a client complete their Idaho estate plan is to give them peace of mind in knowing that not only do they have a good plan in place, but also that that their plan will help keep peace in the family. There have been numerous clients who have come to us because family fights have arisen. We find that these most often occur when there is either no estate plan at all, or the person who passed away did their best to try to complete their own estate plan without getting assistance from an Idaho attorney.

I often tell clients that it is far better to spend a little bit of money up front to make sure that things are done correctly, rather than spending a lot of money at the end trying to fix problems that could have been avoided. We have assisted clients for over 70 years in completing their customized Idaho estate plans with these goals in mind. Our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys have the experience and ability to meet each client’s specific and individual needs. Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley, each of whom has the experience and knowledge necessary to help you avoid the most common types of family fights that can arise.

Our experience is that most individuals don’t think about the bad things that can happen after they die. Rather, most people believe or want to believe that their family will get along and things will move forward smoothly after they die. While this does happen sometimes, our experience is that it’s not always the case. If you are concerned about whether your family may fight over your money, property, or other assets after you pass away, here are three things that you should keep in mind that may help you avoid this.

Use an Estate Planning Attorney to Help

The single most important piece of advice that we can give you that will help you avoid family fights is to use an experienced Idaho estate planning attorney to help you complete your personal and customized estate plan. By using a qualified Idaho estate planning attorney, you will know that you are benefiting from their years of knowledge and experience in helping other individuals avoid the same problems from arising.

More than likely such an attorney will help you create a last will and testament that will be specific enough that it will not leave any room for a family fight to arise. Additionally, other estate planning documents that you should have that are affected while you were alive, including a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care, can also be created to avoid family members fighting should you need assistance in your later years.

If your family has a history of quarreling, and you believe that no matter what is put in a last will and testament there is likely going to be a fight, we can also help. There are a variety of trusts that can be created while you are alive that can also prevent family fights from occurring. The bottom line is that by using an experience Idaho estate planning attorney, you have a number of options that you can choose from that will best fit your own personal circumstances and the personalities and characteristics of your family in avoiding family fights.

Choose Your Personal Representative Carefully

The next piece of advice we usually give to our clients to help them avoid family fights is to choose their personal representative carefully. The personal representative is the individual who is named in the last will and testament that has the duty and responsibility of carrying out your specific instructions and making distributions through your last will and testament to those individuals you have chosen to receive your property, assets, and money after you die. The personal representative has a good deal of control over how the relationships within family can be affected through the probate process.

To be specific, you are not required to name any family member as your personal representative. Most people do choose family members to act as their personal representatives but there’s no legal requirement that this be done. If you believe that family fights will arise because of whom you have chosen, it may be best to consider a personal representative that is not a family member. By choosing an independent individual such as a close family friend, or a professional that you work with such as your attorney, or accountant, or other professional, you may avoid the family flights that would otherwise arise.

Regardless of whether you choose a family member or a professional to serve as your personal representative you should consider the fact that it is a big job, and the person you name should be physically and emotionally capable of handling it. It would not be good to choose a person as your personal representative who is physically feeble, or whose personality is quiet and unassuming. To be sure, by hiring a professional attorney to help, much of the concerns of the personal representative’s personality are eliminated. However, many people simply do not like confrontation. It would be best to choose a personal representative that has the ability to deal with and handle confrontation if it arises.

Provide Clear Instructions

The third and final suggestion when it comes to avoiding family fights is to make sure that the instructions you leave in your last will and testament or other estate planning documents are clear and concise. If the worst-case scenario happens, and a family quarrel arises, it’s more than likely that a court will be involved to resolve that dispute. When this happens, the court’s goal is to carry out the instructions left by the person who died. If your last will and testament or other estate planning documents are ambiguous, or are hard to understand, or simply don’t make any sense, the court may not resolve the dispute in the way that you would have chosen if you were still alive.

Again, by using a professional attorney to assist you in creating your estate plan, you will have some assurance that the language will be clear and concise, and that the attorney will take the precautions necessary to avoid ambiguous language in your estate planning documents. In addition to this, it is important for you to have a clear understanding of exactly what you want to accomplish. You have the ability to provide instructions to your attorney, and through your estate planning documents to all of your family about what your specific wishes are. You don’t need to use fancy words, you don’t need to have legal sounding phrases, all you need is clear concise instructions of what you want.

We have assisted numerous clients over the past 70 years and completing their customized Idaho state plan. We have also help families avoid confrontations and disputes. We are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need 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 Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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