What Steps Should You Take After a Loved One Dies?

Clients, especially those who have been acting as Attorney-in-Fact for a loved one, or those who are named as the Personal Representative/Executor or Trustee in a Will or Trust  always want to know what steps they should be taking after a loved one passes away. 

Below are a few basic tips to get you started to ensure that all assets are secured and that the probate, estate administration or trust administration process, goes smoothly.

1.  Be aware that once an individual passes away, a Power of Attorney is no longer effective.  A Personal Representative or Trustee is who will take over management of assets and payment of debts after death.

2.  Notify the decedent’s frieds, family member, employer or employees of the death.

3.  Look for any specific funeral and burial instructions left by the Decedent.  In my estate planning documents, I typically include a “Funeral and Burial Letter” which is located with the Will or Trust.

4.  Arrangements should be made for the care of the decedent’s pets, if any.

5.  The decedent’s residence should be secured.  You can do this by having either a trusted friend stay at the home or by changing the locks.

6.  Locate the Decedent’s original Will or original Trust document.

7.  Order between 5 and 10 certified copies of the Death Certificate.

8.  If the decedent left a will or trust, you should contact an Idaho Probate Attorney to advise you with respect to the appropriate steps to take to probate the decedent’s estate, if necessary and to learn about the appropriate steps for Estate Administration or Trust Administration in Idaho.  Failure to do so may result in costly mistakes.

9.  If the decedent did not leave a will or trust, but there is property of the Estate (bank accounts, real property, vehicles, etc.) you should also contact an Idaho Probate Attorney to assist you with Intestate administration of the Estate.

10.  If the decedent left a Revocable Living Trust, the Trust likely became irrevocable as of the decedent’s date of death.  The Trust will need its own Tax ID Number.  Your accountant or attorney can assist you with getting this number.

11.  If the Decedent was renting the property, the landlord should be notified

12.  Notify any utility and phone suppliers of the death.

13.  Notify the post office to change the mailing address to the address of the Personal Representative (once appointed) or the Successor Trustee.

14.  Keep track of your time in handling administration of the estate or trust.  You should also keep all receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the Estate or Trust. 

Hiring a competent Idaho Probate Attorney can alleviate a lot of the unnecessary stress that comes with administering a Deceden’t estate or trust. 

My philosophy when it comes to Estate or Trust Administration, is that as your Probate Attorney, I will take the burden off of your shoulders, and guide you step-by-step through the process.  I’ve found that my clients are relieved to have this burden removed, and that it is helpful especially in situations where family members may not get along or have trust issues with one family member administering the Estate.

Hiring a competent Probate Attorney can also save the Estate or Trust money in many instances.  It is always cheaper to prevent a problem, than it is to fix one. 

If you need help with an Idaho estate administration or trust administration, or need assistance going through Idaho Probate, I would love to assist you!  Contact Mindy Moore at (208) 384-8588 to schedule a consultation with me.

“Do I Need a Living Trust to Avoid Idaho Probate?”

Over the past 3 days, I’ve answered your most burning questions about Estate Planning in Idaho:

  • Do I Need an Estate Plan?
  • Can I Write My Own Will?
  • How Much Will My Estate Plan Cost?

With so many Californians pouring into Idaho, I’ve seen an increase in the number of requests for Living Trusts (also known as Revocable Trusts).  It seems that Californians are quite fond of Living Trusts (as well they should, California is WAY different than Idaho!) and as a result, many individuals come to me panicked about needing a Living Trust.

In today’s video, I’ll answer:

Do I Need a Living Trust To Avoid Idaho Probate?

Great question, right?

Here’s the answer:

If you are located in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Star or Kuna, I would love the opportunity to work with you to get you the peace of mind that comes with having your estate planning in order.

Schedule Your Consultation Today at (208) 384-8588.

To learn more about how Natasha and the law firm of Angstman Johnson can assist you with your Idaho estate planning needs, visit us at www.Angstman.com

Happy Planning!

Should You Use a Living Trust?

I know… I know…your neighbor’s sister’s friend is a lawyer and she SWEARS that the best estate plan includes a Living Trust. In my experience, Living Trusts rarely end up working out as promised. Here are some common myths about Living Trusts:

Myth #1:  You avoid Probate with a Living Trust and probate is EXPENSIVE and COSTLY! 

In order to avoid Probate using a Living Trust, you must ensure that all assets are titled in the name of the Living Trust.  If the decedent forgets to properly title just one asset, you’ll most likely have to go to Probate.  However, going to probate isn’t all the bad!  There are may states out there where probate is extremely time consuming and costly, but Idaho isn’t one of those states, in my opinion. You may hear stories about probates taking years to complete, but chances are- you don’t know all of the facts.  It could be a dispute among the heirs, or the IRS that is causing the hold-up.  A straight-forward probate doesn’t take long at all.  Many take less than 6 months.  Another thing most proponents of living trusts won’t tell you is that administration of the trust could take just as long as a probate.  

Myth #2:  Assets in a Living Trust Don’t Count for Medicaid Eligibility.

In reality, any assets that can be used for your support will be counted towards your Medicaid eligibility.  A living trust is “revocable” which means that you have the right to withdraw assets at any time, for any purpose, including your own support.  For this reason, assets in a Living Trust will be counted towards your Medicaid eligibility.  Additionally, the assets in a revocable living trust are also subject to the Medicaid recoupment lien once the surviving spouse dies.  Moreover, if your home is titled in the name of the trustee of a living trust, it loses its exempt status for Medicaid purposes.  Only assets in a certain irrevocable trusts may be excluded in determining Medicaid eligibility, 60 months after the assets are transferred to the trust. 

Myth #3:  Creditors can’t reach the assets in your Living Trust:

During your lifetime, the assets in your living trust are subject to creditor’s claims.  Upon your death, the assets in your living trust are subject to the claims of the creditors of your estate.

Myth #4:  By having a Living Trust, I can avoid a Will Contest:

Although a “Trust” and a “Will” are completely different legal instruments, it is true that a Living Trust cannot be the subject of a “Will Contest.”  However, the typical grounds for a will contest:  Undue Influence, Fraud, and Lack of Capacity, apply to Living Trusts as well as Wills.  So, beneficiaries or people who are left out of a living trusts, can attack a Living Trust.

Myth #5:  If I have a Living Trust, it will Save my Estate from Taxation:

A revocable living trust will save no more estate taxes than a properly drafted will with testamentary trust tax-planning provisions.

Myth #6: Attorneys charge from 3% to 10% More to Probate Your Estate:

If your family members hire an attorney to assist with probate, your family will agree upon the attorney’s fee.  It should typically be based on an hourly charge, but in some cases, I will agree to a flat fee regardless of the hours it takes me to complete.  Additionally, I have been brought in on several cases to help a Trustee administer a Living Trust, where the Trustee is not a corporate fiduciary, and has no experience in Trust administration. 

Myth #7:  Everyone Should Have A Living Trust:

In reality, the cost of creating and administering living trusts outweighs the benefits for many individuals.  For some individuals who lack the capacity to manage their assets, or are too ill to manage their assets, a living trust is a useful method of asset management.  Additionally, for those who own real property outside of Idaho, a living trust can be useful for avoiding the other’s state’s probate process.  But, in my experience, the majority of my clients are equally as prepared with a complete estate planning package including: a Will, Durable General Power of Attorney, Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, and a Living Will.  The price for this simple estate planning package is approximately one-third of the cost of a Living Trust.

To learn more about Boise Estate Planning Attorney Natasha Hazlett visit www.angstman.com.  To schedule an appointment today, call 208-384-8588

Happy Planning!