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How Idaho’s Laws of Intestacy Work

We have assisted our Idaho clients in creating their estate plans for over 70 years. During this time we have experienced and assisted clients in dealing with just about every aspect of Idaho estate planning law and Idaho probates. We have extensive experience in dealing with Idaho's intestacy laws.

Intestacy laws become applicable anytime an individual dies when they do not have a valid written Last Will and Testament. When this occurs, the statutes in Idaho create a default estate plan which is known as the laws of intestacy. Under these laws, specific directions are given about how that individual's estate will be handled and distributed.

If you have a family member or a friend who has recently passed away without a written last will and testament, our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys can help you. Understanding and navigating the laws of intestacy are not necessarily easy. However our team of estate planning attorneys, which include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson together with attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley, understand and know these laws and can help you. The three most important things you should understand about the laws of intestacy are:

1. Who can be Named as Your Personal Representative

Under the laws of intestacy, there is an order of priority among those individuals who can seek to be named as the personal representative of your estate. The order of priority is listed under Idaho Code § 15-3-203. Essentially, the order of priority starts with a living spouse who is also a recipient of the individual’s property. Absent a living spouse, the remaining individuals who will receive a distribution from the estate have equal priority in seeking to be appointed as the personal representative. If there are no individuals who seek to be appointed, any creditor of the decedent can also seek to be appointed as a personal representative provided more than 45 days have passed since the decedent died.

The laws of intestacy are designed to allow a proper probate of your estate in the event that you have no written last will and testament that provides specific directions. Again, the idea is that some distribution of your estate including the dealing with and paying creditors, and the completion of your estate should be possible even if you have created no written plans on your own.

2. Who Will Receive Assets From Your Estate

As we sent forth above, if you have no written planned, the statutes in Idaho create a default plan for you. This default plan takes into consideration circumstances such as whether you are married or not. It also takes into consideration whether you have any living children either from your current marriage or from any previous marriage. The laws of intestacy then provide specific directions on who your property will be distributed to based on the circumstances you were in at the time of your debt.

Priority is given to your spouse and to your children who are living. In addition to this, the laws of intestacy in Idaho also consider whether the property that is being distributed is community property or whether it was your individual or separate property. The full default plan of intestate distributions as set forth in Idaho code § 15-2-101 et seq.

3. What Happens if You Move to Another State

Several times we've had clients who have indicated that they are fine with the distributions that will be made through the laws of intestacy. Oftentimes this is done by clients because they do not want to incur the expense of having a written estate plan created for them. When this occurs we always point out to our clients that Idaho's intestacy laws will only apply if they live in the state of Idaho at the time they die. We want our clients to understand that if they do not have a written last will and testament and they move to another state that state’s laws of intestacy will then apply. Each state has its own laws of intestacy, and the priority is given among these laws sometimes are different.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our Idaho Estate Planning lawyers can help you. Whether you are seeking to review your own customized Estate Plan or would like to help a family member, 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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