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Idaho Estate Planning Should You use a Trust in Your Estate Plan?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When you get right down to it, the main purpose of estate planning is to provide you with an opportunity to create a plan that will protect you while you are alive and provide for your family and loved ones after you pass away. A basic estate plan should include a written last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a power of attorney for health care. Additionally, depending on your circumstances, you may also need a trust, or multiple trust as part of your estate plan to carry out what you want to do.

All of the attorneys on the premier Idaho estate planning team at the Racine law office are experienced and qualified in helping clients understand and complete their own estate plan. This included determining whether a trust or several trusts are necessary to accomplish what our clients want.

Our team is made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Our attorneys have each earned the highest rankings possible based upon their experience, knowledge, abilities and ethics from the several notable legal rating services including AVVO, Martindale & Hubbell and Justia. More importantly, our team of attorneys have the skill and experience to help you.

When should a trust be considered? What can a trust accomplish? What types of trusts can be used in an estate plan? These and other questions are important to get answers to when you are considering your own estate plan. For this reason, we offer encourage you to download our Estate Planning Questionnaire and then schedule a free 30-minute consultation to help you understand what a trust is, and how it can be used in your estate plan to help you and your family. We also use this consultation to answer all of your questions.

The purpose of this article is to discuss whether you should use a trust in your estate plan. This article is just a summary of some of the reasons that a trust is used by clients. No single article can contain all the information that you might need to understand about trusts in order to make the decisions you need to make about your own personal estate plan. If you have questions beyond this article, please contact us.

Avoid Probate

One of the first reasons that many people like to use a trust is to avoid probate. The reason for this is that many times our clients have had family members or close friends who live in other states who have gone through the probate process. These family members or friends have found that probate is expensive, that it takes a long time, and that it is often fraught with contention and sometimes even litigation.

Whatever the reason is, a person can avoid a probate in Idaho if, when they pass away, they do not own any type or kind of real property, and the total value of their estate is less than $100,000. To accomplish this, many individuals create a revocable living trust. They then transfer their real estate, and most of their valuable assets into the trust. By doing this, when they pass away, they are below the threshold requirements for a probate in Idaho.

In other words, these clients divest themselves of their personal ownership of these items and transfer them into a trust. These individuals then are able to use the property in the trust without being the owner of that property. As a result, when they pass away, no probate is required. Rather, the trust document itself provides for the distribution of the assets in the trust to whoever the decedent wants them to go to.

Protect Assets for Minor Children

Another great reason for creating and using a trust as part of your estate plan is when you have young children. In this instance, most parents want to provide for their children financially. However, if they do not use a trust, then when their children reach the age of 18, the law requires them to receive their inheritance regardless of its size or value.

When an 18-year-old child receives a large amount of money or assets, it’s usually a devastating experience. This is because most 18-year old individuals are not mature enough to handle large amounts of money or property even though they are considered a legal adult under the law.

For this reason, many parents of young children will create a testamentary trust as part of their estate plan. Under this type of trust, if the parents pass away while the children are still young, the money and property are held in trust until the children reach whatever age the parents believe they would be mature enough to handle the money and property. In the meantime, the trustee uses the money and property to benefit the child without giving it directly to the child.

Protect Assets for Disabled Family Members

In a similar way, many parents use a trust as a way of protecting assets for disabled family members. A trust is created and money and property are placed in the trust and used for the benefit of the disabled child without ever giving it directly to that child.

An added benefit of this type of trust is that many times the disabled child qualifies for several disability benefits programs offered by federal, state or local governmental agencies. However, if that child were to receive an inheritance directly, they would lose those disability benefits. By using a trust as part of the estate plan, the parents can care for the child without causing their child to lose their benefits.

As you can see, there are many reasons that a trust could be a useful part of an estate plan. To help you determine whether a trust can help you, we encourage you to start with our Estate Planning Questionnaire. We then encourage you to schedule a free 30-minute consultation where we can talk about your particular needs and whether a trust would be a useful part of your planning.

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 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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