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Estate Planning Definitions


Basics of Estate Planning


A Will is a written instrument providing for distribution of a person’s property upon their death. Any natural person 18 or more years of age, who is of sound mind, may make a Will. To make a valid Will, the statute requires compliance with various formalities. A Will must be in writing, signed by the person making the Will, and signed by at least two other people who witnessed either the signing of the Will or received an acknowledgment by the person executing the Will that it is his or her signature on the document. A self-proved Will is one in which the person making the Will and both of the witnesses acknowledge their signatures before a notary public. A self-proved Will eliminates the necessity of having the witnesses testify as to the execution of the Will for admission of the Will to probate. A Will is valid until it is revoked or changed by codicil. A Will may be registered with the Idaho Secretary of State that enables interested persons to learn the date the Will was signed and where it may be located.

Idaho recognizes a “holographic will,” whether it is witnessed or not. A holographic will is one which does not comply with the statutory formalities. The holographic will must contain a signature and the material provisions of the document in the handwriting of the testator or testatrix to be valid.

A will or testamentary instrument is necessary or useful to

  1. Achieve unequal distributions of property
  2. Plan for a disabled or incompetent child or parent
  3. Establish trusts for the benefit of a surviving spouse, issue or other persons
  4. Nominate guardians, conservators, and/or custodians for minor children
  5. Appoint a personal representative of the decedent’s estate
  6. Distribute property from the estate into trust
  7. Plan for distribution of property to minor beneficiaries or heirs
  8. Make specific bequests of property to specific persons
  9. Provide for charitable, educational, religious, or other gifts to entities
  10. Forgive debt
  11. Confirm the nature of joint accounts
  12. Coordinate distribution of property which will pass outside of the probate estate (such as life insurance, pension plans, individual retirement accounts)
  13. Minimize estate taxes
  14. Plan for business succession
  15. Alter the survivorship requirements (generally 120 hour survivorship required).

  Updated 01/07/13

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Basics of Estate Planning - common documents, techniques or considerations reviewed in the estate planning process by Sandra L. Clapp & Associates, P.A.

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Note: This document is provided for informational purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, it should not be relied upon as legal advice in individual situations. Please consult your legal advisor for personalized information.

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