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Pocatello Estate Planning When There are no Heirs

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

We have assisted Pocatello clients for over 70 years in creating their Pocatello estate plans. As we have worked to help our clients we have seen nearly every conceivable situation that exists when it comes to the different types of families, relationships, and people involved in estate planning. While it is rare, there have been instances where our client has no heirs, such as a spouse, or children, or parents, or siblings. Even in this situation, we have helped our clients create a customized estate plan that satisfies their goals.

At the Racine law office we use a team approach. We have created a premier team of Pocatello estate planning attorneys whose focus and goal is to create customized estate plans for each individual considering their unique circumstances and needs. Our knowledgeable and experienced Pocatello estate planning team includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Our team works together to ensure that each of our clients’ individual needs are met.

If you are an individual who wants to get your estate planning completed but you believe you have no heirs, we can help you. Here are three specific things that you should consider When it comes to estate planning even if you believe you have no heirs.

First, Do I Really Have No Heirs?

The best place to start is to determine if in fact you really have no heirs. As was mentioned above this is very uncommon. The reason for this is because most people only consider heirs to include a husband or wife, or children, or parents and siblings. The reality is that a person could still have heirs even if they have none of these relationships in their life. The reason for this is because the term heirs really involves a larger circle of people.

Based on existing law, the term heirs really means any person who has a direct relationship with you whether as an ancestor or a descendant. When using these terms, an heir would include uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, cousins, and perhaps even more distant relationships. In fact, the term heirs includes what genealogists like to call the entire family tree. Based on this definition of heirs, it really is unlikely that a person has no heirs at all. Rather, it’s more likely that it’s just a matter of finding distant family members that you are related to.

Second, If I Really Have No Heirs, What Will Happen?

But let’s assume for a moment that you’re exactly right, and that you have no heirs that can be discovered. If you truly have no heirs, and you have no valid written estate plan in place, then there is in fact a default that will occur after you pass away. Based on existing Idaho law, which includes Idaho Code § 14-502 et seq., if there are no heirs that can claim your property, money, or assets after you pass away, then these things will be declared to be abandoned. Essentially, any abandoned or unclaimed property simply escheats, which is a fancy legal word used in the Old English law that means it will go to the crown or state. In other words, if there truly are no heirs, and the property is considered abandoned, it will end up going to the state of Idaho.

When this does occur, if heirs are found later, it is possible for the property to be redeemed by these individuals. However, there are specific time limitations involved, and there are redemption processes and requirements that have to be followed based on existing Idaho statutes.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you do nothing, and you die, everything you own could end up in the hands of the government. Most people would agree that the government already has plenty. Additionally, most people would agree that they do not want their money and property to go to the government. Rather, most people would want their money or property to go someplace where it can actually do some good.

Third, If I Really Have No Heirs What Should I Do?

If you are truly in a circumstance where you have no heirs, there are still things that you can do with your estate planning so that your money and property does not end up in the hands of the government. Even if you have no heirs, you are always able to control the distribution of your own property and money after you die through your last will and testament. A beneficiary who is named in a last will and testament does not have to be a relative. It could be a friend, it could be a professional that you work with regularly, or it could be a perfect stranger. Additionally, a beneficiary could be a charity or some other organization that you want to make a donation to.

When it comes to distributing your estate, you are completely free to name whatever person, group, or entity that you choose to give your property and money away to after you have died. The only real limitation is that you have to have a written estate plan that provides detailed instructions as to who you want your estate to go to. It is not enough to tell somebody what you want to do. It is also not enough for you to leave written instructions unless that writing can be considered a valid last will and testament. It’s for these reasons that even if you have no heirs, we still strongly encourage you to prepare a complete Pocatello estate plan. This gives you the opportunity to be in control of deciding where the money, and property in your estate will go after you have passed away.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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