Harrison & Smyth, P.A.

What Happens If Someone Dies Without an Estate Plan Or A Will?


If someone dies without a will, Idaho has default rules to determine where the assets should go. These rules are found in Idaho Code §15-2-101 et seq. Idaho is a community property state; therefore property must be categorized as either community or separate property. “Community property” is generally any property which is earned while a party is married and includes income received during marriage from separate property. “Separate property” is generally any property you brought to the marriage or property that was inherited. All community property goes to a surviving spouse. If there is a separate property, then it is divided between your surviving spouse, children, or parents depending on who survives you.

If both you and your spouse pass away without a will, then extended family and potentially friends will determine who will become the guardian and take care of any minor children. Someone will also need to be appointed to take care of any asset which the minor would receive. Generally, the minor child would receive these assets when they turn eighteen (18).

How Often Should People Give Their Estate Plan A Check-Up?

We recommend you review your estate plan at least yearly, and then any time you have a major life event such as the birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce, new employment, or if any of your children have addictions or criminal problems and would not be able to properly manage an inheritance. Additionally, when you are looking to make significant investments or other major financial decisions, your estate plan should be reviewed. Another time we suggest revising your estate plan is when significant changes in health or mental state occur. If you want to ensure your family and your assets are properly taken care of, we would highly recommend you review your estate planning documents.

What Are The Basic Items In An Estate Plan And What Does Each Item Do?

When we meet with couples or a single individual regarding their estate plan, we discuss a will or trust, a power of attorney, and also a living will.

A will or trust sets forth what you want to have happen once you pass away. You designate who will take care of your minor children as well as where your assets should be distributed. If you have a carefully thought out estate plan set forth, this will reduce potential conflicts regarding your intentions with your estate after your death.

A living will and durable power of attorney for health care sets forth who will help you make medical decisions and communicate your wishes if you are terminally ill or in a vegetative state. With a living will, you can communicate your desires to use all artificial and non-artificial life-sustaining procedures or use just nutrition, just hydration, or both nutrition and hydration if you become terminally ill or are in a vegetative state. If you do not desire any of these, then you can choose to have all medical treatment, care and procedures be withheld.

A power of attorney with regards to your finances sets forth who will help ensure your finances are being taken care of in the event you are unable to do so while still alive. Your agent would be able to pay your bills, file taxes, and take care of your other financial matters to ensure you are taken care of. Your agent cannot use your money to pay their bills.

If you have a power of attorney and living will in place, you can often avoid the need for your family to file for guardianship or conservatorship if you are unable to take care of yourself or your finances.

For more information on Estate Planning In Idaho, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (208) 552-1165 today.

HARRISON & SMYTH, P.A.

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