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How Most Pocatello Estate Plans Fail

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Our premier team of Pocatello estate planning attorneys have over 70 years of experience in helping clients plan and create a customized Pocatello estate plan. In doing this, we often find existing estate plans that are no good. When we discover this, if the person is still alive, we strongly encourage them to update their estate plan to make sure that it is valid and will work for them given their current circumstances. Our main goal is to avoid a cookie cutter approach to estate planning. Rather, we focus on providing our clients with a customized estate plan that carries out their specific goals and intentions.

Having over 70 years of experience, we are confident that our team of experienced Pocatello estate planning attorneys can help you and your family with your estate planning needs. Our team consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. By having a team, we know that we can meet the needs of each specific client no matter how unique those needs are.

To help you determine whether you need to review your estate plan and make some updates to it, below are the three main reasons we have learned that most Pit Pocatello estate plans fail. By understanding these things you can protect yourself from them and can assure yourself and your family that you have a customized and current estate plan in place.

Using Invalid Estate Planning Documents

We have come to learn that the number one reason that most Pocatello estate plans fail in Pocatello is because the documents are invalid. The state of Idaho has specific requirements that each estate planning document must meet in order to be valid. For example, in Idaho a last will and testament can be valid in several different ways that are described in Idaho Code §§ 15-2-502 or 503 et seq. If you create a last will and testament but you do not meet the requirements set forth in the statutes, your last will and testament will be invalid.

If your last will and testament is invalid then the gifts that you have given through your last will and testament and the appointments that you have made will also not be valid. In other words, if you made a specific gift to a family member of items of money, property, or other assets, those gifts will fail if your last will and testament is not valid. Rather, if the courts determine that your last will and testament is invalid, then all of your property will be distributed based on Idaho's laws of intestacy. In other words, the state of Idaho will determine who receives your property rather than you making that decision yourself.

We often find that individuals will use online software or other forms they may find through family members. However, most often, these documents do not meet the statutory requirements for a valid last will and testament or other estate planning document. There have been several instances where family members have come in after their loved one has passed away. They had brought to us the documents that were created by their loved one on their own. In some of these instances we have the sad task of letting our clients know that the last will and testament is not valid. So, the number one thing that you can do to make sure you're a Pocatello estate planning documents are valid, is to make sure they meet all the requirements set forth by the state of Idaho.

Using Estate Planning Documents That Aren't Updated

The second main reason that most Pocatello estate plans fail is because they are not updated the way they should be. Because life does not stand still but is always changing, your circumstances will change with it. If you made your estate plan and have gone through any major life change since then, you should read through your estate plan to make sure that it still accomplishes what you want. A few examples may help.

Major life changes include the birth of a loved one, the death of a loved one, a marriage, a divorce, moving away, or just a passage of a long period of time. Suppose, that you are on your second or third marriage, but your estate planning was created during your first marriage. More than likely, your original spouse will be named in your documents. Additionally, there may be other children through your second or third marriage who have not been named in your estate planning documents. If you have gone through a major life change, and simply pull out your estate planning documents and read them, it will become very clear to you the changes that need to be made. For this reason, we recommend that our clients review their estate plan at least every four to five years to see if there is any reason there is state plan needs to be updated.

The importance of updating your estate plan is because after you die, the courts are required to follow the specific Instructions you set forth in your last will and testament. The Court's job is not to determine whether what you have written in your will actually is the best thing for you and your family after you pass away. Rather, its job is to simply assure that you are written instructions are followed even if they don't make any sense because the circumstances in your life have changed. It is your job to make sure that your estate planning documents reflect your current wishes. It is only possible to do this if you update your estate planning regularly, especially if you have been through a major life change.

Not Keeping up With Changes in the Law

The final main reason that we see most Pocatello estate plans fail is because the law have changed but the estate plan was not updated to reflect the new law. No one has a crystal ball, and as a result, no one can tell us what laws will exist in the future that could have an impact on your current estate planning. Whenever a major Law changes that has an impact on estate planning, we contact our clients to let them know they should come meet with us so we can discuss with them the changes in the law and how it may affect their estate planning. This gives our clients the ability to make decisions about how to change their estate plan to reflect their needs and circumstances under the new laws.

Because laws could change at any time, it is not only wise to review your estate plan yourself, but it is also wise to occasionally review it with your Pocatello estate planning attorneys. Our team stands ready to assist you with your estate plan at any time to make sure that it accomplishes what you want.

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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