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Idaho Estate Planning After a Spouse Dies

The purpose of Estate Planning in Idaho is to allow a client to provide protection for themselves while they are alive and to distribute their assets to the people they choose after they pass away. We have been serving our clients and helping them complete their estate planning for over 70 years in Idaho. With this experience we have come to learn that it is always important to review your own estate planning documents in the event your spouse passed away before you. More than likely, with the passing of your spouse, your ideas and plans will have changed dramatically. As a result, it will be necessary to make changes to your estate planning documents so that they accomplish what you want.

The Racine office Idaho estate planning team of attorneys all work together to support and assist our clients in completing their customized Idaho Estate plans. Partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley are each a part of this team. Through the legal rating services of Martindale & Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia, each of the attorneys on our team has earned the highest ratings possible based on reviews from current clients, judges, and other attorneys.

If your spouse has passed away before you, and you are wondering what you need to do about your estate planning documents, here are three things you should consider:

1. Changes to Last Will and Testament

The first thing you should think about is whether your last will and testament still accomplish is what you want. More than likely, your last will and testament listed or named your spouse in several different places and for different reasons.

Most likely, the first place your spouse would have been named is as the primary beneficiary of your estate. This simply means that you would have named your spouse to be the person to receive all the assets, property, and money from your estate after you die. Because your spouse passed away before you, you should now consider whether the other individuals named after your spouse as the beneficiaries are still who you want. It’s possible that your ideas about who you want to receive your property and assets and money has changed. If so it will be necessary to make these changes in your documents.

Additionally, it’s likely that you named your spouse as the person who would be your personal representative of your estate. A well-written last will and testament will usually have successor individuals named who can be the personal representative of your estate now that your spouse has passed away. However, again, your ideas of what you would like, and who you would like to have do these things for you may have changed. For this reason, it is wise to look these appointments over and determine if your plan as listed in your last will and testament is still what you want.

2. Changes to Power of Attorney

The second thing that you should consider is the changes you may need to make to who you listed as your power of attorney. While the appointment of a personal representative in your last will and testament is important, it does not have an impact on you while you are alive like the power of attorney does. For this reason, if your spouse has passed away you will want to review your power of attorney documents and make sure that the individuals you have listed after your spouse are still willing and able to serve as your power of attorney.

More importantly, the idea of a power of attorney is to help you avoid the time and expense and potential arguments associated with who should be named as your guardian. If those individuals you have listed as your successor powers of attorney after your spouse are not willing or able to serve, your power of attorney document may have no legal effect. With no power of attorney, a legal guardianship proceeding will be required by Idaho law.

The most important thing you can do after your spouse passes away is to make sure that you have named not only individuals who are willing and able to serve, but that you have enough individuals listed to protect you. Our suggestion is that you have a primary individual named and at least two successors as well. This provides the ultimate protection for you in making sure that at least one of the individuals you named will be able to serve as your power of attorney if needed.

3. Think About Your Children

The final thing you should think about after the death of your spouse is your children. Each person’s circumstances are different, especially when it comes to children. Some parents have young children who are under the age of 18. Other parents have children who have disabilities or other handicaps to consider. In each of these circumstances a guardian must be named for these children.

Additionally, some care and consideration should be given to how property, assets, and money from your estate would go to your children given their individual ages and circumstances. It may be necessary to create a trust in order to protect money for your children that will then be used for their benefit while they are young or under a disability. If your spouse is passed away before you, you should review your estate planning documents and make sure that your plan takes care of your children regardless of their circumstances. If your plan fails to do this, it is important that you make changes while you can.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho 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 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 racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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