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Idaho Estate Planning and the Specific Gift List

There are many tools that an individual can use when they are completing their estate planning in Idaho. Changes in state or federal law often change the tools that are available to individuals. Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have over 70 years of experience in keeping updated on, understanding and using the tools that are available in helping clients create an estate plan that will work best for them and their individual circumstances. One of the basic estate planning tools available is using a specific gift list.

Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley, all of whom have received the highest ratings possible from several legal ranking services including Martindale & Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. These ratings are determined and based on feedback from clients, other attorneys, and sitting judges.

Using a specific gift list as part of your Idaho estate planning is a great idea. Here are three specific things you should know about specific gift list and how they can be utilized by you:

1. Understand What a Specific Gift List Is

The first and most important thing about using a specific gift list is understanding what a specific gift list is. There's nothing really complicated about it. A specific gift list is nothing more than a piece of paper that you use to list tangible personal property that you own and who you would like that property to go to. Keep in mind that this only applies to tangible personal property and not to cash, bank accounts, or other intangible property that you may own.

For example, things that you can touch hold and carry are usually considered tangible personal property. Gifts that we see made through a specific gift list often include items such as guns, jewelry, and collectible items such as coins or stamps. Other items often include china, other valuable knick knacks, and tools or equipment.

2. How to Make a Specific Gift List Valid

The next most important thing to understand is how to make a specific gift list valid. Most often a person who is using a specific gift list already has a written Last Will and Testament. This document often makes reference to the ability of the individual to make a specific gift list that will be incorporated into their will. This is made possible by Idaho Code § 15-2-5 13, which states:

a will may refer to a written statement or list to dispose of items of tangible personal property not otherwise specifically disposed of by the will, other than money . . .. To be admissible under this section as evidence of the intended disposition, the writing must either be in the handwriting of the testator or be signed by him and must describe the items and the devisees with reasonable certainty.

Additionally, this statute specifically states that the written list can be in existence at any time either before or after the execution of the Last Will and Testament. It can also be changed at any time by the individual prior to their death.

Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys provides a specific form to individuals when we help them complete their last will and testament. We then provide instructions as to how that individual can write in their own handwriting the description of the item to be given, the person it is to be given to, and their relationship to that person. There is also a section for that individual to sign and date that specific gift. By taking these steps the Specific Gift List becomes a valid and enforceable part of their estate plan.

3. What Happens if You No Longer Own the Item Mentioned When You Die

The third thing to understand about using a specific gift list is that it is not set in stone. In other words, a specific gift list can be changed or eliminated at any time. We find that this most commonly comes up in the form of a question from our clients. They usually ask us what happens if they make a specific gift to somebody but then change their mind and either sell or give away the item while they are still alive. In other words our clients are asking us what happens to the specific gift if they no longer own the item when they die.

It is always important to keep in mind that a specific gift list is nothing more than a part of your estate plan. And individual has the opportunity to change their estate plan at anytime they want. Additionally, a last will and testament is only effective, or comes into Power after the person dies. What this means is while a person is alive they still own these items and they are free to do with them whatever they like.

Even if a person has a last will and testament that specifically gives items of property or money away to other people, the owner of those items can use them anyway they like while they are alive. If an item of personal property is given in a specific gift list but it no longer exists when you die, it simply means that gift is not given. It will be treated as if the gift had never been made.


Our team Idaho Estate Planning lawyers can help you with any or your 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 We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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