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Using a Specific Gift List in Your Boise Estate Planning

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Idaho estate planning includes a number of tools that can be used by an individual to customize and create their own personalized estate plan. Some of these options come by what we call common law that exists and some of them come through specific statutes that are written into Idaho's laws. Regardless of the source, our team of Premier Idaho estate planning attorneys keep up on these laws and use the tools that are available to help each client create their own customized and individual Idaho estate plan. One tool that exists that provides great options for a client, but that most clients never utilize, is the specific gift list.

Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys understand how to use this tool, and often educate each of our clients on what it is and how it can be used as part of their estate plan. Our talented team includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorney Dave Bagley, all of whom have received the highest ratings possible from several legal ranking services including Martindale & Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia. These ratings are determined and based on feedback from clients, other attorneys, and sitting judges.

If you don't yet understand what a specific gift list is, don't feel too bad. As mentioned above, most people don't know what a specific gift list is, or how it can be used as part of their estate planning. The purpose of this article is to give you a basic understanding of what is specific gift list is and how it could be used by you. Below are the three most basic questions that most clients ask about specific gift list once they learn about them. Hopefully these questions will help you as well.

What is a Specific Gift List?

The starting place is understanding what a specific gift is and how it can be used by you as part of your plan. The good news is that it's not complicated at all. A specific gift list is usually attached at the end of a written last will and testament and is a form for a client to use to list any item of tangible personal property that they own and that they would like to give away to another person as a gift after they pass away. To keep it simple, I tell people that you can pretty much list anything that you can touch hold or carry on this list. There are really only two exceptions to this. The first is you cannot give a gift of cash through a specific gift list. Second, you cannot give a gift of real estate through this specific gift list. Other than that, most other items can be listed and can be given as a gift through this form.

Some examples might be helpful. This is not an inclusive list but a specific gift list could be used to give away items such as jewelry, tools, guns, vehicles, art, coin collections, and other such items. Again, what cannot be given are bank accounts, a home, the summer cabin, an investment account, or the pile of cash that is sitting in the safe at home or in a safety deposit box in a bank.

How do You Make the Specific Gift List a Part of Your Will?

Creating a specific gift list is very simple. As part of the basic estate planning documents that we provide we attach as a form to the last will and testament that a client can use at any time without having to come back to the attorneys. This form allows our clients to describe the item of personal property that is being given, the person that it is being given to, and also allows the giver of the gift to sign their name and then date that gift.

Our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys utilize a statute under Idaho law that allows the specific gift list to be incorporated into and become a part of the written last will and testament. Because of this, our clients do not have to keep coming back to us in order to give a specific gift of tangible personal property to another person. All they have to do is fill out the form.

The only other thing that our client needs to do is make sure that form is either provided back to us at some point, or that they keep it in a safe place so their family can bring it to us after they have passed away. So long as it can be located, and so long as it is in the handwriting of the person who is giving the gift, the specific gift list is legally enforceable as part of the written last will and testament.

What do You do if you Change Your Mind?

The next question that comes up usually is whether a person can change their mind about specific gifts once they have filled out the form. The answer to this question is yes. In fact, we try to impress on our clients that while they are alive they still own all of their own personal property. Even if they have specifically listed every item of personal property on the specific gift list, our clients can still sell it, use it, or give it away to some other individual while they are alive. In fact, I jokingly tell my clients that if they chose to they could sell all of their property turn it to cash and then go down to Las Vegas and feed it that money into the slot machines if they want to. There is no requirement that they change the form that they have already filled out.

So what happens if there is an item listed on the specific gift list that is no longer part of the estate. In other words, what happens if while you are alive you give that out of the way or you sell it or you break it or whatever the reason it no longer exist at the time you die. In this instance, Idaho law would simply state that if the item no longer belongs in your estate then the specific gift list for that item would be treated as if it had never been created.

We have extensive experience in helping our clients create and utilize a specific gift list as part of their estate planning documents. If you have questions or concerns about how you could use a specific gift list, we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist a Boise Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Boise lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning needs if your spouse has passed away. 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 We will answer your questions and help you solve your Boise Estate Planning problems.

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