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Idaho Estate Planning Avoiding the 3 Biggest Mistakes

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When it comes to estate planning, our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys at the Racine law office are available and capable of helping you. Our team has helped numerous clients for over 70 years in the creation of customized estate plans that meet their individual needs. Our goal is to help each individual client in the way that they need, rather than using a cookie cutter approach and providing the same estate plan for every client.

Our team of estate planning lawyers consists of partners Randy Budge, and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys has received the highest ratings possible on several legal rating services, including Martindale and Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. These ratings are earned based on feedback from clients, other attorneys and the judges we work with on a regular basis. Given our experience we believe that every client can benefit from having a customized Idaho estate plan.

The purpose of this article is to help you avoid the three biggest mistakes most people make when it comes to estate planning. These three mistakes are listed below along with an explanation of how to avoid them. Should you have questions we are confident that we can help you.

Mistake 1 - Doing Nothing

The first, and perhaps the biggest mistake that most people make is that they do nothing about getting an estate plan done for themselves. We find that most people don’t get their estate planning done simply because they do not know where to start. In helping our clients we have prepared an Estate Planning Questionnaire that guides each client through the estate planning process and helps gather together the information needed to complete a customized estate plan.

For individuals who do nothing to get there in their estate planning done, there is no protection provided for them during their lifetime. In other words, if they become incapacitated and they need someone to care for them during the remainder of their life, the courts will decide who will do this for them through guardianship proceedings. This takes the decision-making ability away from you and puts it in the hands of the Court. Alternatively, through a complete estate plan and individual have a durable power of attorney, and a power of attorney for Health Care, both of which will allow them to choose the individuals they want to help them.

Additionally, if you do not have a complete estate plan, when you die, the law in Idaho will decide who will receive your money, property, and other assets. These laws are called the intestate statutes. However, if you complete your estate plan you will have a well-thought-out and written last will and testament. This document gives you the ability to decide who your money, property, and other assets will be distributed to after your death.

Mistake 2 - Doing Estate Planning Yourself

The next biggest mistake that we often see is individuals who actually attempt to complete their estate planning themselves. While it’s true that we live in a do-it-yourself society, one thing that you should never complete on your own is anything having to do with your legal rights. The reason for this is that the law is complex, and most people individually do not understand the law or how it can affect them. As a result, any portion of the law, including your estate planning, should be completed for you through a qualified attorney.

We often have clients come to us after a family member has passed away, and they bring to us the estate planning their loved one completed themselves. There have been many times that I have had to let clients know that the will or other estate planning documents their loved one created before they passed away are not valid or enforceable under Idaho law. Additionally, there have been several times in court proceedings where a judge will tell one of my clients this same thing. This is happened because the estate planning was incomplete, or just simply was unenforceable because it didn’t meet all the necessary requirements to be valid.

Other mistakes that people make when they do their own estate planning include putting their children’s names on their bank accounts. This is entirely unnecessary if you have a valid and complete estate plan. This is because by having a durable power of attorney in place, you can name one of your children to help you with your bank accounts without having to list your child’s name on the account itself.

Finally, as another example, I often have clients who come in to me telling me that they have allowed their children to put tape with their names on it on the back of certain items of property. These clients indicate that this is their estate plan. I then have to inform these clients and that the law in Idaho does not support tape on the back of items with a name on it. In other words, this is not a valid estate plan. Rather, I help clients create a customized estate plan, which includes the ability for them to make a specific list of property that they want to go to certain children or other individuals. By doing it this way, the estate plan is complete and is valid under Idaho law.

Mistake 3 - Worrying About What Others May Think

The third big mistake that many people make when they are completing their estate plan is worrying about what others may think. In particular, I have parents who are concerned about naming children to perform certain functions for them as part of their estate planning including being their agent through a power of attorney or being their personal representative. I must remind these clients that their estate planning is designed to protect and help them and their family. I also remind parents that choosing individuals in their family including their children to do things for them does not mean that they love this child more than anybody else. In other words, I remind them that it doesn’t matter what other people think. The most important thing is that they get their plan in place and that their plan is useful in protecting them.

In providing a description of these mistakes, our goal is to help you avoid them for yourself and your family. We have assisted numerous clients and completing their estate plans to avoid these mistakes and 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 consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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