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Idaho Estate Planning for a Couple with No Family

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The wonderful thing about the world we live in is how much uniqueness exists in it. There are no two people, no two families, and no two circumstances that are exactly the same. This is what makes the world such an interesting place to live in. However, when it comes to estate planning, anytime there is an individual or a couple who don’t fit into what most people would consider the “normal” circumstances of life, there is a need for customized estate planning to be completed. In other words, a basic estate plan may not work for each person based on their own unique circumstances or needs.

This is where we come in. At the Racine law office, our premier Idaho estate planning team of attorneys have assisted clients in the creation and completion of their own customized estate plans for more than 70 years. We have helped clients in all circumstances, and with every kind of need you can imagine, complete a customized estate plan that protects them while they are alive and provides a plan for the distribution of their property and assets to others after they have passed away.

The need for customized estate planning becomes clear when we are talking about a couple that have no family. In this circumstance, the traditional individuals that you would involve in carrying out specific responsibilities or acting as beneficiaries to receive the estate don’t exist. It’s for this reason that you have to become a little bit creative with the options available to you in completing your estate planning. This is the main purpose of this article. Below we will discuss three questions that should help you understand what you can do with your estate planning if you are a couple that have no family.

Who Will Take Care of You if You Need Help?

The first question that always comes up is who can you rely on to help provide care for you if you need it during your lifetime. When a person has family such as children, siblings, or other family members, they typically rely on these individuals by naming them as their agents in their durable power of attorney and in their health care power of attorney. However, when a couple has no family members to rely on we need to think about other options.

The first choice is easy when both the husband and the wife are alive. Typically they would name each other as their first choice under their durable power of attorney and under their health care power of attorney. The problem becomes more complicated, obviously, when one of the spouses passes away or is simply unable to act in that capacity. In this instance, we often suggest to our clients that they consider naming one of the following.

First we start with good family friends. If you have a good friend that you can trust they would be ideal as a person to name as your agent under your powers of attorney. If you don’t have any close friends, then you can look to a religious leader that you may be close to such as a pastor, or a bishop, or so forth. If that doesn’t work, you can then move on to professionals that you have a relationship with such as accountants, financial advisors, and so forth. Again if none of these are available the last suggestion we can make is that an individual consider naming an assisted living center that they have reviewed and feel comfortable with.

Who Will be Your Personal Representative After You Pass Away?

The next question has to do with who will handle your estate after you have passed away. Again, if you have a surviving spouse they are the obvious first choice to be named as your personal representative. If this isn’t the case then you can use the same options that are listed above, which includes a close friend, a religious leader, or professionals that you may have a relationship with. If none of these are real options, you may also consider naming the individual or charity that you are leaving your estate to as the beneficiary.

There is nothing wrong with the person or entity who is listed as a beneficiary also acting as the personal representative of your estate. In fact, in many instances, This Is a wise choice because this person or charity is in the best position to care for and make sure that the estate is handled correctly so that the distributions that are made from the estate to them are valid.

Who Will Receive Your Money and Property?

The final big question that comes up when a couple has no family is who should receive their estate when they die? A person’s estate includes their money, property, and other assets. In addition to this, a person’s estate is also made up of all of the debts and obligations the person has when they pass away. Again, figuring ot who should receive your estate as a beneficiary is easily resolved when we’re talking about a couple who are both alive. When one member of the couple passes away, they almost always leave their entire estate to their surviving spouse. The transfer of that individual’s estate to their surviving spouse is relatively easy to accomplish. However, things become more complicated when we’re talking about the death of the survivor of a couple.

In this instance, when there is truly no family members, including any distant family members, then we usually suggests that our clients consider first their close friends and then charities as the beneficiaries of their estate. The reason we suggest this is because if a person passes away and they truly have no heirs or family members at all, and there are no beneficiaries named on a written last will and testament, then the estate passes to the government. I have yet to find a client who thinks it’s a good idea that the government ends up with their money, property, and other assets. Rather, without exception, every client I have had who is in this situation, would much rather see their estate go to a close friend or a charity where it can be helpful to others.

A charity could include a religion, an educational facility, or just about any other type of charitable purpose that you can think of. I have had clients leave portions or all of their estate to animal charities such as the Humane Society, or to organizations such as the NRA, or the children’s Shriners Hospital. These are just a few examples of the types of charities and charitable purposes which you could leave your estate to if you chose.

The main point of this article is just to show that even if you are a couple that have no family, there are still many options available to you when it comes to completing your own estate planning. We have helped numerous clients who have been in this situation and we are confident that we can assist 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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