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Idaho Estate Planning and Domicile

We live in a day and age where people are more mobile than they have ever been before. It is not uncommon for our Idaho estate planning clients to mention to us that they travel extensively or that they own real property which could include homes, cabins, vacation properties, or other types of land in states other than Idaho. When this happens, it raises a number of different concerns when it comes to making sure that our clients have a complete and ready Idaho estate plan that will take care of all of the properties they own. Our goal is to meet the unique and individual circumstances of each of our estate planning clients.

For over 70 years the Racine law office has assisted Idaho clients with their estate planning needs and concerns. To be effective, we have created a team of Idaho estate planning lawyers which include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. By having an experienced and knowledgeable team we have the resources necessary to assist every client with their own individual needs. Are Idaho estate planning team of attorneys have each received the highest ratings and reviews possible from judges, other attorneys, but most importantly from clients.

Many of our clients who own property in different states have heard the term "domicile" but they really don't know what it means. As a result, when we meet with our clients we explain to them the importance of the term domicile and how it will impact their Idaho estate plan and the distribution of their property after they pass away. When it comes to domicile here are some important things that you should understand.

What is Domicile?

The first question that comes up when talking about domicile is what does it mean? Domicile is a fancy legal word that lawyers like to use that means nothing more than just where you reside. Residence is important because it determines a number of things related not only to your property, money, and assets while you are alive, but more importantly it determines which state will have jurisdiction to follow the written directions you leave in your last will and testament and therefore to deal with your property, money and assets after you die.

You can imagine the chaos that would develop if several States claimed to have jurisdiction to deal with an individual's probate estate after they die. Each of these states could appoint a different personal representative, and they could also determine that distribution should be done in different ways. For this reason, residence is an important thing to establish so that Idaho's courts will know that they do have jurisdiction to deal with your estate through the probate process after you pass away.

How is My Domicile Determined?

This leads to the next question then which is how is my domicile, or my residence determined? This question becomes more complicated when there are multiple residences, or homes or properties that the individual resides in during their lifetime. While there is no single factor that by itself determines a person's domicile or residence, Courts tend to look at a variety of facts and circumstances.

The first thing that courts look at is how much physical presence the individual had in the state. It really doesn't matter if a person owns a home or other property in a state if they never actually live in that home or property. If the home or property is nothing more than an investment property that is rented out to other individuals and the owner never actually lives in it themselves, then it's pretty safe to say that this home will not establish the residency or domicile of that individual.

Other factors that a court will look at could include the state where the individual's family primarily live. This review of family usually just includes their spouse and children. The court will also likely look at other factors such as where the individual has their bank accounts, where they are employed, where they have registered to vote, and possibly even the state where their estate planning documents were prepared.

Additionally, a Court could look at whether the individual owns any memberships at country clubs, places of worship, or social clubs. Further, a court could determine where the individual receives their primary professional services such as their accountant, attorney, dentist, or physician. A person's motor vehicle registration and/or driver's license would also likely be considered.

After a court reviews each of these items, the totality of the circumstances that are reviewed will likely help the court determine where that individual resides and where their domicile is located. Again, no one single factor is usually determinative of this. Rather, it is usually looking at all of these circumstances at the same time that help make residency and domicile clear.

How Does My Death Affect My Domicile?

The next question that clients have asked us is what happens if their death occurs in a state where they actually don't reside. Their question really is: does their death in a different state affect their domicile or their residence. In other words, if they die in another state will that state have jurisdiction to complete a probate for them. The answer to this question is that the location of the person's death usually has no impact on where they reside and essentially where they are domiciled.

It's possible for this to come up because in this day and age individuals travel for a variety of reasons. Some people travel for business, while others take numerous and extensive vacations both inside and outside of the United States. If one of our clients was on vacation in a different state and passed away, their domicile would still be determined based upon their residence as set forth more fully above. As a result, a person need not worry about traveling affecting where their probate would need to occur if they were to die. All of this will still happen where they reside and are domiciled.

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 are in need of 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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