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Idaho Estate Planning Tedra - Changing Distributions After the Will Maker’s Death

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

When it comes to probate, Idaho courts are bound by Idaho laws which specifically state that the intentions and wishes of the decedent, as set forth in their last will and testament, are to be carried out to the best extent possible. In other words, typically a court will not have discretion about how an estate is distributed. Rather, a court’s function is simply to carry out the stated instructions of the person who created the written will. But does this also mean that the beneficiaries of the will are also bound by the stated intentions of the decedent in the written will? The answer to this question is, it depends.

In addition to being the premier Idaho estate planning law firm, the attorneys at the Racine law office are equally knowledgeable and experienced in helping clients through the probate process after a family member or loved one has passed away. Out team of Idaho probate attorneys consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each attorney on our probate team has earned the highest rankings and reviews possible from past clients and from several legal rating services including Justia, Martindale & Hubbell, and AVVO. We have the expertise and knowledge to benefit each of our clients.

The purpose of this article is to talk about what the beneficiaries of a written last will and testament can do to change the distributions that were created by the person who passed away. We will do this by first talking about what TEDRA is, when it can be applied and how it works. Keep in mind that no one article can exhausted we discuss this topic. If you have questions or concerns, we would be happy to answer them for you during a free 30-minute consultation.

1. What is TEDRA?

Let’s start by first talking about what TEDRA is. TEDRA Is an acronym that stands for the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act. This is an Idaho statute that is specifically designed to help family members and other individuals involved in a dispute or issue during the probate process so they can resolve their issues. The statute itself says that “The provisions of this chapter are intended to provide nonjudicial methods for the resolution of matters by agreement.” I.C. § 15-8-101.

In other words, Idaho law recognizes that in many instances fighting in court about how to resolve issues involved in a probate estate can be costly. As a result, the law in Idaho has created a way for parties who can reach an agreement to resolve their issues through an agreement non-judicially which means a court is not involved. This allows a party to resolve their issues without having to spend thousands of dollars in court fighting about those issues.

2. When Does TEDRA Apply?

According to the TEDRA statutes, the ability to use a TEDRA agreement can be applied to the resolution of any matter involving a trust or a probate estate. This would include any specific directions and/or instructions that are given to a personal representative or to a trustee whether those instructions are to specifically do or to abstain from doing any specific act in their fiduciary capacity. In other words, a TEDRA agreement can essentially change the intentions and instructions provided by a decedent in either their trust, or in their written last will and testament.

3. How Does TEDRA Work?

While there are many specific details associated with a TEDRA resolution, in its simplest form, a TEDRA agreement is binding so long as it is in writing and it is signed by all parties who are involved in the resolution of a dispute, and/or are affected by the change in the directions and or instructions that are given by the decedent.

For example, let’s suppose that a parent does not like the spouse of one of their children. Because of this, the parent rights in their written will that that child share of their estate shall not be distributed, or should be put into a trust, until their spouse passes away. In this instance, the child is now effectively disinherited by the written last will and testament of their parent until their spouse passes away. Because this instruction is in contravention of the actual distribution that is intended, in this instance it is possible that the personal representative, and the beneficiaries of the will, could all reach a TEDRA agreement that would change this distribution requirement and allow the distribution to occur to that child before their spouse passes away.

Again, this is just one example of the many situations that could arise where a TEDRA agreement could help. Other situations include actual disputes about whether the written last will and testament is valid, about whether a specific prohibition or gift given in a will is valid, about whether the person appointed as the personal representative should be the personal representative, and so forth.

If you have questions about a trust or an estate left by another over which you believe a dispute could arise, and you would like to know whether a TEDRA agreement could be applied to resolve the issues, we can help.

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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