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Idaho Estate Planning a Will Gone Wrong: Mistakes That Foil Your Estate Plan

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Congratulations! You taking the step now to get your written last will and testament done so that your affairs are in order. More importantly, by writing up your will you have taken steps to describe your plan of distributing your money, property, and other assets after you pass away. The question now is, are you done?

The short answer is no. Simply having a written last will and testament is not enough to make sure that your estate plan is complete. Additionally, it’s important that you obtained your last will and testament from a source that has the proper legal knowledge to understand whether the last will and testament will actually do what it is you want it to do. The reason for this is that we often find that the written last will and testament an individual has can create as many problems as it attempts to solve.

At the Racine law office, we have a team of Idaho estate planning attorneys that help each client create a customized last will and testament that helps their family and loved ones after they pass away. Our team of premier estate planning lawyers consists of partners Randy Budge, and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our lawyers has obtained the highest ratings possible on several legal rating services, including Martindale and Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. With our experience we know we can help you with your will.

If you have your own written last will and testament, then this article is for you. The purpose of this article is to discuss the ways that your will could have unknown problems in it which could then create problems for your family and loved ones down the road after you pass away.

Keep in mind that this article is not designed to be exhaustive. Rather, if you have questions, we encourage you to download and review our Estate Planning Questionnaire and to contact us so that we can provide you with a free 30-minute consultation to answer your questions and help make sure that you were last will and testament does what you want it to do. We have helped numerous clients answer their questions and make sure their estate plan will work, and we are confident that we can help you too.

To get you started, here are three things that you should think about when it comes to your own written last will and testament. By thinking about these three things you’re on the right path to make sure that your will accomplishes what you wanted to do.

Unclear Wording in Your Will

The first big problem that we see in written last will and testament documents are that the wording used in the will is not clear. Idaho law requires courts to carry out the intentions of the person who made the will. However, if the wording used in the will is unclear, then the intention of the person who created the will is also ambiguous.

Our goal as the premier Idaho estate planning team of attorneys is to make sure that every last will and testament, we create is clear and concise. If there is confusion about what your will says or means, then your family could end up in a fight trying to determine what your intentions were. As a result, rule number one when it comes to your last will and testament, use clear wording, and make sure that there can be no confusion about what your intentions are.

Failing to Update Your Will

The second big mistake that we often see when it comes to a written last will and testament is that the person who created it does not update it when it should be updated. Life is always changing. This applies to everyone. Within our own families, we could have a new person be born, or die, or we or another person in our family could get married, or divorced, or you or someone else could move. We call these things major life changes.

Anytime a major life change happens, either to you personally, or to any member of your family, this is a good time for you to re-read your written will and make sure that it still does what you need it to do. If it doesn’t, you will know right away.

For example, let’s suppose that you created your written last will and testament and you named your spouse as your personal representative and also as the individual you wanted to receive all the money, property, and assets in your estate. Now suppose that you divorced your spouse. If you take out your written will, and read it, you will know immediately that you need to remove your ex-spouse’s name from your written will.

Similarly, if you have a child born after you have written your will, then you need to update your will to include the name of your newly born child. Moreover, if you created a last will and testament, and then you move to a new state, the intentions and wishes you set forth in your written will may no longer apply. Or, you may need to do a new written will to make sure that you are conforming and complying with the laws of the state that you moved to.

Your Will Can’t be Found by Your Family

The final big mistake that often happens after a written will is created is that it cannot be located by your family after you pass away. This could be caused by you putting your last will and testament in a place where your family simply can’t find it. Alternatively, it may be that a member of your family found your will and then “lost” it because they didn’t like what it said. Whatever the reason, if your written last will and testament cannot be found, then it might as well not have been written in the first place.

To solve this problem, we usually suggest to our clients that they leave their original last will and testament with us. We place their written will in our fireproof filing system and provide letters and instructions in the written estate plan to let them and their family know where the original will is located. Because of this, the family can easily obtain the last will and testament when it is needed.

We have helped numerous clients avoid problems and issues with their own written last will and testament. If you have questions or concerns, we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. 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 free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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