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How Trusts can Help Older Couples

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The depth and breadth of options that are available to an individual who is creating an estate plan is vast. As a result, we find that most people don't even know where to begin when it comes to creating their own estate plan. Each person is unique and the circumstances of individuals are also unique. As a result, a cookie cutter approach to estate planning really doesn't consider or take care of the unique needs that may come up for each person. Based on this, our team of Boise estate planning lawyers work to understand each individual's circumstances and then help them craft an estate plan that will meet their specific needs. Often, this will include the creation and use of a trust or multiple trusts as part of an estate plan.

The Racine Law Office team of Boise estate planning attorneys is made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. We are proud that each of our attorneys has received exceptional peer and client reviews during the last several decades. We are confident that our team can assist each of our clients plan and prepare for the unique circumstances and needs of their family and loved ones.

To be sure, trusts are not needed by everyone. In fact, in many instances, having a trust will only create more expenses and problems for a person and for their loved ones after they pass away. However, when it comes to older couples, we find that the circumstances that exists often lend themselves well to the creation and use of a trust or multiple trusts as part of estate planning. Below are three specific reasons why a trust may be helpful for an older couple.

A Trust can Help You Avoid Probate

When a trust is created and funded correctly, the result is often that a probate is no longer required or necessary in order to transfer property after you pass away. When it comes to an older couple, the likelihood of needing to complete a probate for each individual increases as the couple ages. It is important to point out that probate in Idaho is really not that expensive when compared to most other states. However, if an older couple can avoid the cost of two probates within a short period of time it may be a wise thing for them to do.

A probate in Idaho is required anytime a person's name is listed on the deed or title to any real estate regardless of whether it is a home, bare ground, farm ground, or any other type of land. If a person's name is on a deed for this kind of property, and they pass away, a probate is the only way that the title or deed to that property can be transferred to somebody else. Additionally, a probate is required in Idaho anytime a person's estate has a value of $100,000 or more when they die regardless of whether there is land in it or not. Because of this, a trust could be used to transfer property and money away from a person's estate so that they don't fit either of these requirements. If a trust is created, and funded, so that a person no longer personally owns real estate and the value of their estate is below $100,000, there is now no need for a probate to be filed with a court.

Keep in mind that the real key is to fund the trust after it is created. I have had numerous clients come into my office who have obtained an estate plan from another attorney who created a trust for them but never transferred any property or money into the trust. In other words, the trust was never funded. When this happens, a probate is still required.

A Trust Might Help With Medicaid Planning

The second way that a trust may help an older couple is with Medicaid planning. The benefits that a person receives from Medicaid are specifically designed to help them if they go into an assisted living center and cannot pay for it themselves. Often, the only asset that exists, is a home or some other type of land. The individual would like to pass that on to their family members. However, if a person receives Medicaid benefits, a lien is placed on that real estate which means when you die, family members may not end up with the house after all.

Although it has become more and more difficult through legislation that has been passed, it is still possible that a trust could be used to help an older couple preserve some property and assets and still be eligible to qualify for Medicaid benefits. This type of planning is detailed and requires specific actions to be taken at certain moments of time in order to be effective. However, it can still be done. If an older married couple is concerned about Medicaid planning they should meet with a qualified attorney who can review all the details of their estate and help them come up with a plan.

A Trust Allows You to Provide Distributions to Multiple Generations

An additional way that having a trust can help an older couple is by allowing them to take advantage of gift-giving through multiple generations. A trust gives a couple an opportunity to provide specific instructions and control over how and when assets are distributed from the trust. A trust can go on for several generations which gives an individual the ability to do some very specific things. For example, a grandparent could set up a trust that would help provide a college education for their grandchildren when they reach the age where they will be attending college. Likewise, a trust could be set up to help somebody who has special needs or a disability and this trust may go on for the remainder of that individual's life.

Because each person's circumstances, and life, and the loved ones they have around them are unique, an older couple should explore the options that exist in creating a trust with a qualified estate planning attorney. By doing this, you can educate yourself on the options that are available to you and on how you can help your loved ones long after you are gone.

We have helped numerous clients create customized trusts and other estate planning options that have gone to help them and their loved ones. If you believe a trust might be an option you want to consider, we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist a Boise Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Boise lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning needs if your spouse has passed away. 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 Boise Estate Planning problems.

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