Why Estate Planning?

During your lifetime, you will acquire ownership of property in many different ways. Generally, they fall into five categories.

  • Fee simple
  • Tenants in common
  • Community property
  • Joint tenants with right of survivorship
  • By contract

It is a common misconception that at your death, your property ownership passes to your family automatically. In reality, death does not end your ownership and the above five categories dictate how property transfers. Listed below are the most common forms of estate planning.

Life Insurance and Retirement Account Beneficiary Designations

These two forms of contracts and the decision you make as to beneficiaries are the most common forms of estate planning.

Your Last Will and Testament

Your last will and testament is just one part of a comprehensive estate plan. If a person dies without a will they are said to have died “intestate” and state laws will determine how and to whom the person’s assets will be distributed. Some things you should know about wills:

  • A will has no legal authority until after death. So, a will does not help manage a person’s affairs when they are incapacitated, whether by illness or injury.
  • A will does not help an estate avoid probate. A will is the legal document submitted to the probate court, so it is basically an “admission ticket” to probate.
  • A will is the only place to nominate the guardians (or back-up parents) of your minor children if they are orphaned. All parents of minor children should document their choice of guardians. If you leave this to chance your children could end up with the wrong guardians.

Revocable Trusts

Trusts have been a tool used for hundreds of years by the wealthy to avoid the lengthy probate process when someone dies. It is a misconception that a trust can only be used by the wealthy. Listed below are the reasons that trusts are beneficial for everyone:

  • If designed correctly, can avoid probate
  • Protect assets for the beneficiaries against creditor claims
  • Minimize “death taxes”
  • Provide for potential mental incapacity

Please contact the firm if you or a family member needs legal assistance with estate planning in Boise, asset protection, probate and estate administration, wills and trusts.