Justin Jeppesen: Idaho's Newest Estate Planning Related Laws

For those who have a daily interaction with Idaho Law, July 1st is a Christmas in July special. Typically, that is when the new laws created, implemented or amended by the legislature and signed by the Governor go into effect. 2016 is no different.

House Bill Number 496. The purpose of this bill is to add to the existing law to provide a way for cities or cemetery maintenance districts operating cemeteries to recover and resell unused cemetery lots. While it doesn’t sound all too sexy of a law change, it can be a great reminder of a previously purchased lot, reimbursement, or potential to update your burial plans. No one likes to think about burial plans, but for myself, I would rather make that decision that expect my loved ones to guess what my wants would have been. So to the law. Essentially, if you purchased a cemetery lot more than 50 years ago, or your parents did, the city or the cemetery maintenance district will contact the owner or the owner’s heirs to seek out their interest level in the lot. If you are not interested, the city or maintenance district is allowed to follow a prescribed process to reclaim the lot. If a lot has already been reclaimed, but the owner or the owner’s heirs contacts the city or maintenance district, expressing interest in a lot that has been reclaimed, the owner or heir will either be given the lot back. However, if the lot has been sold, then you can be provided another lot or be compensated at a reasonable fee for the lot at the date of contact. This new law falls under Idaho Code 27-301 through 304.

Senate Bill Number 1300. Existing Idaho law provides for certain effects of divorce on Wills and some other situations. However, a great number of situations are not covered by existing Idaho law and can present major problems if the divorcing spouses are not aware of the need to make changes. This bill does not preclude court orders overriding such default provisions, nor the spouses agreeing to continuation of the designations. The spirit of this bill is to prevent the horror story often acted out in contested Probate cases, where decedent (the person who passed away) had a previous divorce, and during that prior marriage took out an insurance policy naming the then-spouse as beneficiary. After divorce, that insurance policy beneficiary designation was never updated. After new marriage, that insurance policy beneficiary designation was never updated. After death of the decedent, guess who gets the insurance policy proceeds? Until July 1st of 2016, the ex-spouse, or whoever the beneficiary designation was. There is much more to this law, but in this effect, it presumes that if you get a divorce, you would have wanted to revoke the spouse you are divorcing as beneficiary.

Also, there is a new law concerning digital assets. This is an interesting area of law that is not well developed yet. As our society becomes more digital, this area will continue to develop.

Lastly, the Banking Code has been updated to recognize “friends” as a possibility to serve as your Trustee. The reality is that many people already name their friends as successor Trustees without issue. However, this law makes it legal to do so.