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What Should you do When You Have no Heirs

As Idaho's premier estate planning attorneys, we have a wide range of experience in helping clients prepare their own customized Idaho estate plans. Based on this experience we have seen a lot of different situations arise with the clients we help. Although it is fairly rare, we do occasionally have instances where a client will tell us that they have no heirs. This can be because they are divorced, were never married, or because their spouse passed away, and they have no children of their own.

Our goal in helping each of our clients prepare their own customized Idaho estate plan is to learn about and then prepare a plan that meets their individual needs and circumstances. To reach this goal we have created an experienced and knowledgeable team of Idaho estate planning lawyers which includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Judges, other attorneys, and most importantly our clients provide the highest ratings possible and positive reviews for each of the lawyers on our team.

If you want to create your own Idaho estate plan but you believe that you have no heirs, here are three specific things that you should think about.

1. Is It Really Possible for Me to Have no Heirs?

The first thing that you should think about is really whether it is possible for you to have no heirs at all. When most people think of the word "heirs" they think of a spouse or children, and grandchildren and so forth. However, the term heirs includes a much larger group of people.

Let's assume for a moment that you really have no spouse and no children or grandchildren below you. You may still have heirs. These individuals would include your parents, your siblings, and any nieces or nephews you might have. In the event that you have none of these persons or groups of people who are living there is still an additional group of people that could be your heirs.

Based on applicable law your heirs would include any individual who has a lineal relationship with you. Essentially what happens to determine whether you have any living heirs is you go up a generation and then spread out again. As an example, if your own parents are no longer living and you have no siblings then we move on up to your grandparents. If they have passed away then we branch out to their children which would include your parent's siblings, who would be your uncles or aunts. If any of them are living, then you have heirs. If none of them are living, then we go down another generation to your cousins and determine whether any of them are living. This procedure of going up a generation and then out and back down will continue until some living person who has a lineal relationship to you can be located. This person or group of people would then be your heir(s).

The bottom line is that while it is possible to have no living heirs, it is very rare. It's more than likely that you do have individuals that you have a linear relationship to who are out there that you just don't know about. It may just be a matter of finding them.

2. What Happens if I Have no Heirs?

Let's move forward and assume for just a moment that you actually have no living heirs after all. If you have done all the research and you can find no one who is living that you have a lineal relationship to then you would have no legal living heirs who could receive your property. Regardless of whether you have a written last will and testament or not, if you have no heirs, then upon your death your estate, which would include everything that you own as money, property, and valuable assets, would escheat or go to the state of Idaho. Again, this is only the case if you have no spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or cousins.

Under Idaho's statutes which include Idaho Code § 14-502 the general rule is that any unclaimed or abandoned property will go to the state of Idaho if that property remains unclaimed for more than 5 years after it becomes either payable or distributable. Keep in mind that the same statutes provide a detailed process of the state of Idaho providing notice before Idaho can claim any of this property. Additionally, even if Idaho has claimed the property it may be redeemed by following the same statues in the requirements set forth are in.

3. If I have no Heirs, What Should I do?

The next question that comes up from clients is if in fact they really have no heirs what should they do with their property when they die. In this instance we advise our clients that they can do one of two things. The first is that they can simply do nothing and upon their death their property would be deemed to be abandoned and the state of Idaho would go through the process to claim that property. Alternatively, the second option is that the client donate their property, money and assets after their death to charities.

There really is no limit to the charitable giving a person can do upon their death. However, in order for this to happen, you will need a written last will and testament or a written trust that will provide detailed instructions about which charities your property, money, and assets should be distributed to upon your death. This is where our team of accomplished Idaho estate planning lawyers can help you.

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 are in need of a Probate for a loved one who has passed, 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 with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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