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Your Boise Will - 3 Important Questions You Should ask

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

The Racine Law Office has provided estate planning and probate services to clients in Idaho including Boise and the Treasure Valley area for more than 70 years. Our goal is to help each individual client, their families, and their loved ones work through the problems and issues that can arise when it comes to completing their estate planning and to help with the probate process when they pass away. We are confident that through our experience, skill, and knowledge, we can help you too!

Our team of Boise estate planning and probate attorneys consists of partners Randy Budge, and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley. We work as a team to meet all our client's needs. With our team's assistance you have the assurance that there will always be an attorney available to answer your questions and to help you and your loved ones.

Most clients know that having a last will and testament is important as part of their estate plan. Also, most people understand that the purpose of a last will and testament is to allow an individual to name the people that their money, property and assets will be distributed to after they die. However, even though most of our clients know these things, we find that there are many things about a last will and testament that our clients do not know. The purpose of this article is to ask you three specific questions that you should know about your own Boise last will and testament.

1. Is Your Boise Will Valid?

The first question that you should ask yourself is whether your last will and testament is valid. The importance of this question is that if you've gone to the trouble to create a will in the first place, you obviously want it to accomplish what you have described in it. Under current Idaho law, not all wills are valid, but there are three specific wheels that Idaho law will recognize.

The first kind of valid will that Idaho law recognizes is a valid out-of-state will. Many people move to Idaho after having lived in other states. Any person who goes to the trouble of getting a valid will in the state they live in before they move to Idaho, and then bring that will into Idaho with them, will have the assurance that Idaho law will recognize that will as valid in Idaho as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that the will you got in the other state is a good will or even that it accomplishes what you want. All this law does is allow a valid will in another state to be recognized as valid under Idaho law.

The second type of valid will that Idaho law recognizes is a holographic will. A holographic will is a type of whale that a person writes up by themselves without the help of a lawyer. Under Idaho law, a holographic will can be valid if the essential terms are in the handwriting of the individual, and the will is dated and signed. However, again, a person writing up their own will it doesn't understand Idaho law or the many things that a wheel should accomplish, may not have a complete will even though it may be considered valid.

The final type of will, which is the type of will that we recommended to each of our clients, is a formal written will. This type of whale is usually obtained by working with a qualified Idaho estate planning attorney, who understands and knows all the various things that should be accomplished in a will. Such an attorney can help you create your own customized last will and testament that accomplishes everything for you that should be done in this document based on your own circumstances. This may include creating a testamentary trust for young children, and it may also include naming guardians for young children.

2. When Does You Boise Will Take Effect?

The next important question that you should have an answer to is when does your will become effective? Many people misunderstand and believe that the moment they sign their last will and testament it becomes a legally effective document. They couldn't be more wrong. The reason for this is that a last will and testament can be changed, revoked, or even destroyed anytime the person who has it wants to do these things. As a result, a last will and testament is not final while a person is alive because it can be changed.

A last will and testament really only becomes final and takes legal effect when the person who created it passes away. It's at this time that the will cannot be changed, and the purpose of Idaho law is only to carry out the intents and purposes set forth in the last will and testament by the person who died. This gives the person who created the last will and testament complete control over their own Estate Planning and the gifts they choose to give to others.

3. What Assets Does Your Boise Will Control?

After determining whether you have a valid will, and when the will takes effect, the next most important question for you to understand is what assets does your will control. This is pretty simple. A person can only control the money, property, and assets, that actually belong to their estate. The problem with this is, most people don't understand what their estate is. A couple of examples might help.

Considered a regular working guy living in Boise who got his last will and testament that essentially says that all his money, property, and assets will go to his spouse when he passes away. The same person has a life insurance policy that names his children as beneficiaries. Likewise, let's say that this same guy has a 401k or an IRA retirement account that names a charity as the beneficiary of that money. So the question now is what controls the life insurance policy and the retirement accounts when this person dies? Is it the last will and testament, or is it the documents within the account itself? In this instance, the last will and testament will control every item of property, money, and assets that the belongs to this person's estate. However, the life insurance policy and the retirement accounts do not belong to this person's estate and they will be controlled by the contract documents that created the life insurance and accounts.

Another example might help. Suppose for a minute that in a last will and testament an individual lists a valuable painting that they own and declares that they want this to go to a museum when they die. However, let's say that while this same person is alive they decide to sell the painting, take the money and go down to Las Vegas to gamble. When this person dies, will the museum be able to make a claim for the painting? The answer is no, the reason for this is that the estate of the individual that is controlled by the last will and testament no longer owns the painting. It was already disposed of by the person while they were alive.

It's easy to be confused about whether a will is valid, and also what a will actually accomplishes. It's for this reason that we recommend that you talk with a qualified Boise estate planning attorney to help you with all your estate planning needs. We have helped numerous clients create their own last will and testament and do their own Estate Planning and we are confident that we can help you to!

Enlist a Boise Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Boise 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 Boise Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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