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What Type of Will(s) do You Need?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having provided top quality estate planning services to clients for over 70 years, the Idaho estate planning lawyers at the Racine law office work to customize each estate plan to meet the specific needs of each of our clients. We don’t expect our clients to understand estate planning law or to know what documents they need to meet and accomplish the specific goals they have for protecting themselves while they are alive and distributing their money, property, and assets to their family and loved ones after they had passed away. We don’t even expect our clients to know the names of the estate planning documents that they may need as part of their estate plan.

To keep estate planning simple for our clients we provide them with an easy to understand Estate Planning Questionnaire that guides them in providing information to help us understand what their needs and goals are. What’s our clients fill out the estate planning questionnaire we then schedule a consultation to go over their information and talk with them about their needs and goals. We then can provide them with options they can choose from.

Once we have your information, our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys work to meet your specific needs and to make sure your estate planning is complete. Our team includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Based upon their experience, knowledge, abilities and ethics, each of our attorneys have received the highest ratings possible from several notable legal ranking services including AVVO, Martindale & Hubbell and Justia. This simply means our team has the experience and skills you need.

In discussing estate planning with our clients we often explain to them the different types of Wills that exist and why each of these is an important part of their customized estate plan. The purpose of this article is to explain the differences between these Wills so that you can understand what each of them accomplishes. By understanding this you can then choose which type of will you would like to have as a part of your own estate plan.

Last Will and Testament

The first type of Will we will talk about and the foundation of every estate plan is a last will and testament. Most people are familiar with a last will and testament because this document is often portrayed in movies and TV shows. As a result, most people understand that it is through a last will and testament that a person gets to declare who their money, property, and other assets will be distributed to. Because of this, it’s true that this document is important. However, a last will and testament does so much more than just distribute property.

In addition to naming who you want your property to go to after you pass away, your last will and testament is also the document where you get to name who your personal representative will be. The personal representative is the person you appoint who is responsible for making sure that all the property in your estate is safely cared for. Additionally, the personal representative is required to deal with and pay all creditors of your estate. Furthermore, the personal representative is the individual who is required to begin the probate process in order to properly deal with your estate after you have passed away.

As you can see, a last will and testament is an important part of your estate plan. However, it is not the only type of will that you can or should have in your estate plan.

Living Will & Health Care Power of Attorney

In addition to a last will and testament, and perhaps even more important than that document, you should also have a living will and health care power-of-attorney as part of your basic estate plan. In fact, it’s arguable that this document, the living will, is more important to you than your last will and testament. The reason for this is because your living will could have an impact on you while you are alive. In contrast, your last will and testament does not become valid or legally effective until after you pass away.

In Idaho, the living will is combined with the health care power-of-attorney based on Idaho statutes. This document is designed to provide two specific protections for you while you are alive. The first, having to deal with the health care power-of-attorney, gives you the ability to name an individual who will make healthcare decisions for you if you can no longer make them for yourself. The types of decisions that are made through a healthcare power of attorney include the doctors that you see. It also includes the medical procedures that you may need to receive. Additionally, the health care power of attorney provides authority for an individual to make decisions about the kinds of medicines that you take. Ultimately, this power of attorney also gives an individual the ability to determine whether you need to be placed in an assisted living center.

The second specific protection that this document provides to you has to do with the living will. This document is designed to give you the ability to provide end-of-life instructions to your doctors and healthcare providers that they are required to follow if you cannot communicate with them. In other words, if you were on life support, and the doctors have diagnosed you with an injury or illness that you will not recover from and the life support is only keeping you alive artificially, you have the ability to instruct your doctor’s to turn it off. This takes this decision off the shoulders of your family and loved ones and gives you the ability to be in complete control of all the decisions associated with your life.

Ethical Will

The last type of Will that you may be interested in including his part of your estate plan is an ethical will. This document gives you the ability to express words of gratitude and love to your family members and others that you leave behind. Often, people have called this type of document a letter of instructions or a final letter. Whatever you call it, this document could be a powerful way of Simply expressing love. if you choose to do an ethical will it is important to make sure that your attorney reviews it so that it does not create any conflicts or contradictions with the other estate planning documents you have already prepared.

So there you have it. Estate planning can include many different kinds of Wills, each one of which accomplishing a specific goal. We have decades of experience and helping clients determine what type of Wills they would like to include as part of their estate planning. We are confident that we can help you too.

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 consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Pocatello 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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