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Idaho Estate Planning for Non Traditional Couples

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

For over 70 years the premier Idaho estate planning attorneys at the Racine law office have assisted numerous clients in creating their own customized estate plans to meet their specific needs. The wonderful thing that we’ve learned over this time is that estate planning can be customized to meet the needs of any person. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to estate planning. Each individual can determine what their own specific concerns and needs are, and they can then use their estate planning documents to make sure that these needs and circumstances are met.

While estate planning may have originally been designed to help a traditional family which would be a married couple with kids, its ability to assist every person is now well-established. In other words, you don't have to be part of a traditional family to benefit from having your estate-planning completed. Rather, estate planning has evolved to where it is now able to provide protections for the needs and circumstances of every individual. This is specifically true for what has now become known as a non-traditional couple.

Our premier team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have assisted numerous clients in creating their estate plan. The lawyers on our team consist of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of the estate planning lawyers on our team have received the highest ratings for their ethics and legal abilities in helping their clients reach their goals. We know we can help you with all of your estate planning needs, regardless of whether you are in a traditional family, an individual, or part of a non-traditional couple.

What is a Non-Traditional Couple?

A non-traditional couple would be any type of couple other than a traditional married couple consisting of a husband and a wife. Specifically, non-traditional families could include single parents, blended families, and families with unwed partners. It could also include individuals that are divorced, that are widowed, or gay and lesbian couples as well.

It's also interesting that a person who can be part of a traditional family may, in the course of time, become something else. Again this can be as a result of death, divorce, or a change in lifestyle. Regardless of whether any of these events occur, you have the ability to customize your own estate planning to meet your specific needs. In other words, your estate planning is designed for you individually, regardless of whether you are part of a traditional family or are part of a non-traditional couple.

What Happens When a Loved one Dies Without an Estate Plan?

It doesn’t really matter whether you are part of a traditional family or not. If either you or a loved one passes away, the laws in the state where you reside will control how the estate will be distributed. That is always the starting place. However, the laws that do apply will create vastly different results depending on whether you are part of a traditional family or not when there is no estate planning done.

When a person passes away without any estate planning documents, including a last will and testament, then the laws of that State control how the estate will be distributed. This is usually done through what is known as the laws of intestacy. The intestate laws or the laws of intestacy provide specific instructions about who can be appointed as a personal representative of an estate and also who will be the beneficiaries who will receive distributions from the estate.

Under Idaho's laws of intestacy, the individuals who are identified as the beneficiaries start with what could be considered a traditional list. The highest priority is always given to a spouse. After that, children have the next priority. Then we move on to parents, and other more distantly related relatives such as siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins, and so forth. The reason it's important to understand these laws is because this will help you know how your estate will be distributed if you have no written last will and testament.

Let's assume for a moment that you are part of a non-traditional family that consists of you, and your unmarried partner. Let's also assume that you have two children. If you were to pass away in Idaho without a written last will and testament, then your entire estate would be distributed to your surviving children. No portion of your estate would go to your unmarried partner under Idaho's laws of intestacy. It's for this reason that having your estate planning documents completed is vitally important for you as part of a non-traditional family.

How Your Estate Planning can Help?

A basic estate plan would consist of a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a health care power of attorney. Each of these documents gives you the ability to make specific provisions and plans for both yourself and for your loved ones after you have passed away. Given the example listed above, the most important document for you after you pass away would be your last will and testament. This document gives you the ability to name the individuals you would like your estate to be distributed or given to. Essentially, this means that you would control and direct who would receive your money, property, and other assets.

Through your estate planning documents you are free to give your money, property, and other assets to whomever you choose. This could include an unmarried partner. It's for this reason that completing your own personal estate planning documents is so important if you are part of a non-traditional family. Without these documents, you lose the control over who will receive your estate after you pass away.

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 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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