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Idaho Estate Planning How To Keep Probate Simple And Inexpensive

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

In normal conversations when I’m asked what I do for a living and I tell people that I am an estate planning and probate attorney, I usually get one of two responses. The first is that the person will confess to me that they don’t have their estate planning done and that they should get it completed. The second, is that they want to share some horror story with me about the probate of a family member or friend that they know about. Usually, that story focuses around how long, hard and expensive the probate was to get done. 

At the Racine law office, our team of premier Idaho 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.  

The purpose of this article is to explain how you can keep probate simple and inexpensive for you and for your family. The good news is, that when you have taken the right steps, probate in Idaho is actually pretty simple and inexpensive, compared to most other states. To keep probate simple and inexpensive, there really are three very simple things that you need to do. 

Have a Written Estate Plan.

To start off with, I’m a firm believer that every person should get their own estate planning completed. Every person can benefit from having their estate planning done because it provides protection for them while they are alive and a detailed plan for how their money, property, and other assets will be distributed after they pass away, which is the focus of this article. 

A part of your written estate plan will include a last will and testament. In this document you have the ability to choose your own personal representative. This is the person who will take care of your estate after you have passed away. Additionally, in your written will you have the ability to name the beneficiaries. These are the people who will receive your money, property, and other assets from the personal representative through the probate process.

When you don’t have a written will, Idaho’s laws of intestacy control everything. This would include deciding who will be appointed as your personal representative. Additionally, the laws of intestacy will control who will receive the assets and money from your estate. 

By having a written last will and testament you are in complete control of everything. As a result, it’s much less likely that you will have any family fights, or disagreements about who should be appointed as your personal representative and who should receive the assets from your estate. Most family fights occur about these two things. When you avoid these two things, you keep the cost of probate low and you simplify the probate process by making it easy to be completed. 

Provide for Backups in Your Plan.

It’s important to have backups in place in your written estate plan. In other words, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve gone to the effort to create a written last will and testament that names who will be your personal representative and who will be your beneficiaries, if you don’t have backups. This simply means that you should have a first choice for the person you’ve appointed as your personal representative. If for some reason that person is unable or unwilling to serve, you should have a backup or successor person listed and named.

The same is true for naming beneficiaries. You are in complete control of naming who will receive your estate. If you were to name a beneficiary who passed away before you then that person is no longer a beneficiary of your estate. In that instance, it’s wise to have a backup person listed. If you have no beneficiaries that survive you, the default will be that your estate will “escheat” or be transferred to the government. Nobody wants that to happen.

Keep Your Estate Plan Updated.

The final thing that you can do to keep probate simple and inexpensive in Idaho is to keep your written estate planning documents updated. Let’s face it, life has a way of changing all the time. Because of this, what was a good written estate plan five years ago may no longer be a good plan. There could have been a person born or a person who died. Additionally, there could be a marriage or a divorce that has occurred. Finally, our relationships with the people that we had several years ago may no longer be the same now as they were then. Whatever the reason, if you have gone through a major life change, or time has gone by, then you need to review your written estate planning documents and make sure they are current.

By having current estate planning documents, you know for sure that your wishes will be carried out. This will also ensure that there will be no family fights, and no disagreements about what is supposed to happen after you have passed away. 

Probate in Idaho does not have to be expensive. The fact is, in most instances it’s very inexpensive and very simple. However, it does take a little bit of planning and effort on your part to make sure that it stays that way. We have to help numerous clients accomplish these things 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 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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