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Death Without a Will

In a situation where a person passes away without leaving a Last Will and Testament here in Idaho, what happens to that person’s accounts, possessions, and property? Do they simply pass to the state of Idaho? Or does someone else inherit them?

The quick answer is that the things left behind only pass to the state in unusual circumstance. Instead, under a set of statutes called the “laws of intestate succession,” the heirs will be certain close family members. Essentially, the state of Idaho provides a Will for you, though usually the heirs dictated by the state are not the ones that you would have chosen for yourself.

At Peters Patchin & Monaghan, we put our nearly half century of experience to work to create your custom Estate Plan package. Partners Daniel Patchin and Ben Monaghan will work closely with you to craft the best possible Will or Trust, and related documents, to meet all of your needs in the most efficient and affordable manner possible. You’ve worked hard to provide for your loved ones. We can help you map out the best plan to do so.

The State Determines Your Heirs

Here’s a quick summary of how your property will pass: A certain portion of the property will pass to your surviving spouse and/or surviving children. If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the assets will pass to surviving parents. If there are no surviving parents, then surviving siblings inherit the property and possession. If none, then your surviving grandparents will inherit. If there are also no surviving grandparents, then whatever is left will pass to your surviving uncles, aunts, or cousins.

Regardless of your wishes or how close you were with your particular relatives, the state of Idaho dictates who the lucky relatives are who will inherit your property.

Executor for Your Estate

Similarly, in the absence of a Will, Idaho statutes also dictate who is entitled to serve as your Executor. And the Idaho does not take into account your wishes since you remained silent on the subject. As a result, the probate court may appoint a family member of whom you would have disapproved.

Guardians for Minor Children

However, Idaho law does not dictate is who will serve as the Guardian of your children. Any person can request to be appointed to that position after you have passed away. It will be up to the probate court to determine who will be best. So, if you have people you want or don’t want to see in that position, it is important that you leave a Will or a Trust that has been prepared by a skilled attorney and that your documents have been properly signed, witnessed, and notarized.

If any of the heirs that you want to receive your property are not yet old enough or mature enough to handle their inheritance well, a Trust should be established so that the inheritance for those heirs can be managed for them until they are ready to handle it responsibly. After all, few things can be quite as destructive as an inheritance received before the heir is mature enough to manage it well.

Finally, if you have no Will or Trust, it becomes a near-certainty that your family will be required to go through the delay, stress, lawyer fees, and court costs imposed by the probate process. So, if you wish to spare them from all of that, it is important that a Trust be properly established before you pass away. But remember that a Simple Last Will and Testament alone will not avoid the probate process.

The Solution

If you’d like to learn more about these questions, give us a call at (208) 939-2600 to schedule your free initial consultation. Or you can schedule an expedited appointment at your own convenience by clicking on either of the yellow “Schedule Now” boxes on our Home Page.

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