Justin Jeppesen: If There is No Will or Trust, Who Receives Property in Idaho?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your property if you die without a Will or a Trust? You might assume that your spouse, if you are married, will receive it all. Or, that your children are assured a share. And, some even worry that the State of Idaho will receive it.

I have some good news.

It is unlikely, but possible, that the State of Idaho will receive any of your property if you pass away without a Will or a Trust. If you have any living relatives, even very distant or remote relatives, your property will pass to them before it does the State.

Here is the bad news.

If you die as a resident of Idaho without a Will or Trust, Idaho provides a “Will” for you. That means if you live in Boise, Meridian, Eagle, or anywhere else in Idaho, the Idaho Laws of Intestate Succession determine who will receive your property.

So, how do the laws of Intestate Succession work?

First, you should understand that there are different rules for different characterizations of property, ie separate property versus community property. Then, if you are single without children, your property will go to your parents equally, regardless of their marital status. If you are like me, this is a problem for you. Your biological or adopted parents will receive your assets evenly, regardless of your relationship with them. The story of deceased, former GLEE star Cory Monteith is a sad, but often true story of what can go wrong with this scenario.

Let’s assume you are married, but without kids. Ahh the D.I.N.Ks (dual income, no kids). In this set up, your surviving spouse and your parents will share your property. Hope mom and dad like your surviving spouse, or else this can get messy.

If you are married with children, your surviving spouse and your children will share your property. This is a simplistic overview, but it gives you an idea of what will happen to your property if you decide not to plan.

Now, the rules are less draconian for your community property, where your spouse, if married, gets everything. But, that is taking some into account some substantial assumption.

However, the above scenario is troublesome as well. With a raise of hands, how many of you are on your second marriage AND have kids from a previous relationship?

Ok, so I can’t see your hands, but a good number of Idaho citizens are past their first marriage. Do you really want to accidentally disinherit your kids? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t.

To me, the most troubling component of Intestate Succession is that it does not take your wishes or desires into account. Also, it does not take your your personal relationships with your relatives into account either. To sum it up easily, your wants and wishes have NO voice.

Two things the law does not dictate are who will serve as (1) the Personal Representative (or Executor) of your estate or (2) the Guardian of your minor children.  ANY person can request to be appointed to these positions by the Probate Court. With this, you are leaving it up to the Probate Judge to determine who it thinks will be best fit to carry out each role.

If you have people you want to fulfill these positions, or equally important, people you absolutely do not want to fulfill these positions, you need to create a Will or a Trust with an attorney to ensure that it has been properly signed, witnessed, and notarized.

Schedule a conversation with Justin Jeppesen to take the first step towards creating your estate plan. With our Free Initial Consultation, we help our clients explore their own situations and plan for their futures. If you have more questions, I'd love to help! Contact Jeppesen Law now: (208) 477-1785.