Idaho Estate Planning Wrap-Up

Over the past week, I have answered your most burning questions about Estate Planning in Idaho…

  • Do I Need a Will?
  • Can I Write My Own Will?
  • How Much Will My Estate Plan Cost?
  • Do I Need a Living Trust to Avoid Probate?
  • What Documents Should I Take To My Estate Planning Attorney?
  • Do I Need a Power of Attorney in My Estate Plan?

Today’s video will recap this series that I hope you’ve found informative.

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

Happy Planning!

“What Documents Does My Estate Planning Attorney Need?”

Over the past four days, you’ve become very savvy when it comes to knowing the basics of Estate Planning.  : )

Now that you know that you’re going to visit your Idaho estate planning lawyer, you want to ensure that you’re totally prepared for your consulation, right?

In today’s video, I’m going to equip you with the information you need to take to your estate planning consulation.  Make sure you’ve got a pen and paper handy!

When you have these documents handy, it will enable your estate planning attorney to have a meaningful discussion with of whether a will or trust is right for you.

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

Happy Planning!

“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

Happy Planning!

“How Much Will My Estate Planning Cost?”

In yesterday’s post, I shared with you the perils of creating your own will.

Now, I know what you’re thinking….

How much is my Estate Planning going to cost me in Idaho?

Luckily, Estate Planning is not something that will “break the bank!”

In today’s video, I’ll share with you the costs associated with drafting your will, trust, financal power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and living will.

The answer may very well shock you! (In a good way, of course…..) ; )

I’ll also cover some things that you need to know about when pricing your estate planning attorney….Check it out!

Click the link for my Idaho Estate Planning Fees 

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

Happy Planning!

“Can I Draft My Own Will in Idaho?”

From yesterday’s post, you now know that “yes,” you likely do need an estate plan.

The next logical question for frugal shoppers is this….

Can I Draft My Own Will in Idaho?

In today’s video, you’ll learn about Idaho law as it relates to “holographic” wills (i.e, handwritten wills).  Idaho Code Section 15-2-503 addresses “holographic” wills.

But the bigger question is…. just because you can draft your own will, doesn’t mean that you should draft your own will.

Watch the video and I’ll explain why!

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

Happy Planning!



Thanks for stopping by the Boise Estate Planning Lawyer Blog! Press play below for a brief welcome message from me!

This blog is not only about estate planning, but also about Idaho Probate, Guardianships & Conservatorships.

Have a look around and I hope to have the opportunity to serve you in the future.

Happy Planning!

Are You Wondering “Do I Need a Will?”

I get this question time and time again from individuals in Idaho…

“Do I Need a Will?” 

Estate planning is not just for wealthy individuals.  A comprehensive estate plan is critical to preserving your family legacy.  Learn more by watching this short video:

If you live in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Nampa, Caldwell, Kuna or Star, Idaho, I can assist you in drafting wills * revocable living trusts * irrevocable trusts * Life Insurance Trusts * Durable General Power of Attorney * Health Care Power of Attorney * Living Wills.

Make an appointment to speak with me today at (208) 384-8588.

Happy Planning!

Be Careful About Who You Choose To Draft Your Will or Trust!

Unfortunately, there are many attorneys who treat estate plans like an order form.

Check here, for children, Check here for single, check there for divorced.

Looking at estate planning in this manner is very dangerous, because you will likely overlook some major areas where you need planning.

Estate planning is not just about taxes or picking a personal representative or an attorney-in-fact.

A will or trust is a final expression of your wishes.  Many family memories have been tarnished due to bitter family battles that ensued upon the death of a family member, where a will did not address internal family dynamics.

A will affects many people’s lives, so the process and the documents drafted should be well-thought out and given the care and attention they deserve.

You, for the most part, probably don’t know what sorts of issues come up after death.  Any attorney who has frequently handled any probate matters, especially contentious ones, like I have, know what sorts of problems pop up if left unaddressed in the estate plan.  These are things like:

–          An 18 year old child who inherits $500,000 and spends it within a couple of months;

–          The spouse who remarries and then leaves all of his/her first spouse’s assets to her new spouse to the exclusion of his children from a previous marriage.

–          The financially irresponsible former spouse ends up managing the minor children’s assets.

–          The distrusted son-in-law who inherits and controls the assets for the grandchildren.

–          The alcoholic or drug-addicted grandchild who inherits $50,000.

This is just a tiny fraction of the issues that can arise, if you don’t select the property estate planning attorney to draft your will or trust.

At your initial consultation, any good estate planner will attempt to uncover family dynamics, clarify your goals and, of course, examine your financial documents and review any previous estate planning documents.   If they don’t–  then you should be cautious, as there is likely something that will be missed.

Many times people are solely focused on cost when it comes to estate planning documents.  As with anything, you get what you pay for.  My fees for estate planning will likely be more than the average general practicioner, but you can rest assured that you will be getting the benefit of an experienced estate planning professional, as opposed to a general practicioner, who only dabbles in wills ever once in a while.

Another big difference is that unlike many general practicioners, the final signing of your documents is more than just “sign on the line”- I will walk you through each of your documents to ensure that you understand what’s actually IN your will.  It is extremely important that you understand what is in your will- and sadly, many general practicioners don’t even understand the meaning of some of the provisions in their own wills!

With that said, if you are ready to schedule your estate planning consultation, contact Mindy with Angstman Johnson at 208-384-8588 to schedule your appointment with attorney Natasha Hazlett.

Happy Planning!

What Information Should You Take to Your Estate Planning Lawyer

 While it may be a bit time-consuming, being prepared when you walk into a meeting with your estate planning attorney will ensure a quicker turnaround time for your estate planning documents.  Here are some of the things that I think are helpful in meeting with your attorney: 

  1. Think of a couple of people who you think would be capable of handling your estate (these people will be named as Personal Representative/Executor in your Will).  Make sure to talk with them to see if they would be willing to take on this role.
  2. Think of a couple of people who you think would be capable of handling your financial affairs and/or health care decisions if you are unable to make the decisions yourself (these people will be named under your Power of Attorney). You will also want to talk with them to see fi they are willing to serve in this role if and when the time comes.
  3. Jot down a list of the people/charities that you want to name as a beneficiary of your estate.
  4. Make a list of all of your assets. Don’t forget to include all bank accounts, Certificates of Deposit, real estate, stocks, 401(k)s, Life Insurance Policies, etc.
  5. Make a list of all of your liabilities such as your mortgage, car loans, debts owed to individuals, loans on a 401(k), etc.
  6. Make a  list of the names and contact information for your accountant, financial advisor, etc. I generally prefer to have this information in my file because after their death, if their executor/personal representative is unfamiliar with the decedent’s assets, these individuals can provide the necessary information and can save the personal representative a lot of time.
  7. You will also need to  list of the names, addresses and birthdates of your children.
  8. If you have a minor child, you will want to think of a couple of people whom you trust to take care of your children in the event that you die before they are 18 years old.  Again, make sure to speak with these individuals beforehand to see if they would be willing to serve as guardian.  What you don’t want is to appoint someone to take care of your children who ultimately decides that they dont feel comfortable serving as guardian. 

Finally, make a list of any questions you may have for your attorney. Together, these things will greatly assist your estate planning lawyer and will help make your initial consultation extremely productive.

Happy Planning!

“Why You Need an Estate Planning Attorney”

I just came across a very disturbing article in SmartMoney Magazine last May that I wanted to share with you. I was very hesitant to spread this poorly researched article, but it raises so many misconceptions that I believe it will serve as a great starting point for me to address several common misconceptions about Estate Planning.

Misconception #1: If Your Estate is Under $3.5 Million, You Won’t Owe Any Estate Tax, So You Don’t Need An Estate Planning.

The Truth: It infuriates me how the author of this ridiculous article quotes some “spokesman” from the IRS, and states:

The overwhelming majority of estates don’t trigger the federal estate tax,” says a spokesperson for the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, as of 2009 you must be worth at least $3.5 million when you die to pay tax at all. If you fall below that—and don’t have any complicated estate issues—you probably don’t need a lawyer to draw up a will for you. Instead, you can use software like Quicken’s WillMaker Plus (around $45 at Amazon. com) and dispense with the whole task in a single afternoon.

The reality of the situation is that we are in a very unsual time right now. As of the time I’m writing this article (2/22/2010), anyone who dies in 2010 will owe no estate tax. However, in 2011, the Estate Tax comes back with an exemption rate of $1 Million and the highest tax rate is over 50%! This will be quite an ugly reality check for the beneficiaries of the estate whose loved one takes SmartMoney’s advice on estate planning…

Additionally there are some issues presented with the “carryover basis” of items inherited right if someone dies in 2010. Typically, the beneficiary gets a “step up in basis” (so, if Grandpa bought land in 1930 for $5000, that is now worth $100,000- in 2009, the beneficiary would receive the “step up in basis” of $100,000. So if he sold the land for $100,000 he would owe no capital gains tax. If Grandpa died this year, unless the tax laws change, the beneficiary gets only a $5,000 basis….so if he sold the land for $100,000 he would have to pay tax on the $95,000 in capital gains. Suffice it to say, things are far more complicated than the media may have you believe, and an estate planning lawyer can assist you in ensuring that you take advantage of all available tax savings tools.

The author of the article also says, unless your estate is “complicated” you don’t need an estate planner. Let’s see what might “complicate” things:

  • Minor children (under 18)
  • Children from a previous marriage
  • Do you want your children to receive their inheritance at the tender age of 18, or do you want to protect your children from creditors, predators, bad marriages, and themselves until they are more mature?
  • Do you want to ensure that your children receive an education?
  • Do any of your beneficiaries have Special Needs – or receive needs-based government assistance like Medicaid?
  • Have you nominated one of your children to be the Trustee over their siblings? Have you considered how this might affect their relationship?
  • Do you have a system in place to remove a Trustee who is not doing their job – without having to take them to court?
  • Do you have an iron-clad system for carrying out your decisions on health care, or finance, if you are not able to speak for yourself?
  • Do you live in a community property state? Have you moved from a non-community property state to a community property state like Idaho? Do you know how this move will affect the characterization of your assets as separate or community property?

These are just a few of the “complications” that an experience estate planner can assist you with, as opposed to a fill-in-the-blank estate planning program.
Misconception #2: Your Lawyer Wants to Be Your Executor:

The article says:

Who should execute your will once you’re gone? It’s a tricky question, especially for parents who don’t want to favor one child over another but who also aren’t crazy about the idea of entrusting the job to the son who just depleted his 401(k) for a new Miata.

In California, for example, where executor fees are based on an estate’s size, a $1 million estate would pay $23,000 to the executor. Many people give the job to family members, who often refuse payment. But an estate planner stepping in to do the job will understandably want to pocket the profit.

The Truth:I can’t speak for every estate planning attorney, but I personally have no desire to be the Executor of my client’s estate. I find that I’m much more valuable to my client’s family in advising and navigating their loved ones through the probate process. I believe that only in the rarest of circumstances should an attorney serve as executor (for example, there is literally no other person whom the client trusts and a corporate executor is impractical due to the fees charged).

Misconception #3: You Need a Living Trust

The Truth:This is pretty much the only thing on which I agree with the author of the article. While Living Trusts may be very favorable in states like California where probate is extremely expensive and time consuming- Idaho is not one of those states. In my experience, clients don’t end up properly funding the trust, and the estate ends up going to probate anyways. Plus, the cost of the Living Trust can be quite hefty. Especially when you consider that in many cases the estate ends up being probated anyways due to the failures of the grantor to properly fund the trust.

Misconception #4: “I make more money in insurance than on planning your estate.”

The Truth:I don’t sell insurance, and I personally don’t know of any estate planning attorneys that do- if they do sell insurance, ask them candidly about their relationship with the Company.

Misconception #5: Once You Have A Will, You’re Done!

The Truth:You need to review your will from time to time, especially in life changing circumstances:

  • Birth of a Child
  • Death of a Spouse, Beneficiary, Executor, etc.
  • Substantial increase in assets
  • Moving to another state
  • Divorce
  • Marriage

Additionally, a good estate planner will follow up with you as there are major changes to the tax code that may affect your estate plan. If you have not revised your will, and you have an estate that is approaching $1 Million, I would suggest that you immediately contact your estate planning attorney and schedule a consultation to discuss the current issues regarding the estate tax. I will discuss the current issues regarding the estate tax in a future article.

Misconception #6: All Estate Planners Are Created Equal

The Truth:  In reality, the best estate planning attorneys to use, in my opinion, are the ones who also frequently handle the probating of estates. The reason is that these attorneys have seen the “other side.” In other words, they know what circumstances arise after an individual’s death. As a result, they have the unique ability to help you avoid the mistakes that others have made.

A “general practicioner” may be able to draft a simple will, power of attorney or living will…but if you have unique circumstances (see Misconception #1) you may be better off going with a more experienced estate planner.

Happy Planning!

What’s Going On With the Estate Tax?

You may remember that in 2001, The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (EGTRRA) made sweeping changes to wealth transfer taxation. EGTRRA gradually phased out the estate and generation-skipping transfer (GST) taxes and completely eliminated both in 2010, and in 2011 the taxes came back in full-force.

If you met with an estate planner between 2001 and 2009, I’m certain that they told you that although they couldn’t predict the future, it was doubtful that Congress would allow the estate tax to be repealed in 2010. 

Well…we were wrong. 

Congress has been so focused on health care, that time ran out for them to fix the estate tax. So here we stand in 2010 with no estate tax and a carry over basis.  Plus, for those individuals who die in 2010, a host of unique issues are presented.  I’ll be addressing these issues and the concept of a carry over basis in a future post. 

Suffice it to say, we aren’t certain what congress will do (if anything) before the tax hike of 2011 is scheduled to hit. 

I’m sure you are wondering “What tax hike?”

Well, last year, estates under $3.5 million were exempt from federal estate tax.  The top tax rate in 2009 was 45%.  In 2011, if Congress does nothing, the federal exemption level will drop back down to $1 million and the top tax rate will shoot up to 55%.  That rate doesn’t even include the 5% surtax on wealth transfers ranging between $10 million and $17.18 million.   If the tax does come back at this level, it’s going to be an ugly reality for those who have estates of $1M and chose not to incorporate some minimal tax planning in their will. 

A recent article from The Hill indicates that Congress may have something in the works relatively soon on the Estate Tax.  Click here to read the article.  I can only hope that Congress does something and soon regarding the estate tax, so that we can better assist our clients with developing a plan. 

By the way, in Idaho, House Bill 492 was introduced in order to solve some of the issues caused by the repeal of the Estate Tax.  I think that this legislation will go a long way in solving some of the problems we face today due to the estate tax repeal.

Make sure and subscribe to this blog’s RSS Feed to stay upated as this estate tax drama unfolds.

Why I LOVE Legal Zoom Estate Planning Documents

Why do I along with most other estate planning attorneys love Legal Zoom and other do-it-yourself estate planning forms? Because those who used Legal Zoom for their Will, Trust or other estate planning documents will likely eventually find their way to an attorney to fix the mess that using LegalZoom created.  (Truth be told, I don’t really like Legal Zoom at all…because of the misconceptions regarding the services provided).

Attorneys make far more money fixing problems resulting from the use of these do-it-yourself jobs; where we would only have made several hundred dollars if the individuals had come to us in the first place to have their estate planning documents properly prepared.

I can’t blame Legal Zoom or the other do-it-yourself folks, because all those services do is prepare documents based on the information you give them. They don’t offer ANY LEGAL ADVICE! In fact, the people that work on your documents are not attorneys and they cannot by law give legal advice. Don’t believe me?

Check out Legal Zoom’s own Disclaimer at, which states:

“LegalZoom is not a law firm, and the employees of LegalZoom are not acting as your attorney. LegalZoom does not practice law and does not give legal advice. … Instead, you are representing yourself in any legal matter you undertake through LegalZoom’s legal document service. … At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.”

I am not joking…the last sentence is actual on their website, and yes, they even emphasized it in BOLD.

The ironic thing is that they claim to save you HUNDREDS or even THOUSANDS of dollars on your estate planning documents over using an attorney YET in their disclaimer they admit they are no substitute for an attorney…

Do I find Legal Zoom’s representations to be misleading? Absolutely.

That’s because I can’t imagine why ANYONE would throw away money on a document preparation service that does no more than fill out a form and check for spelling errors… The fact is MOST people that use Legal Zoom don’t read the disclaimer and actually believe that Legal Zoom is looking out for them like their attorney would.

In reality, your estate planning attorney is not there to merely fill out a form. Instead I, along with other estate planners use our knowledge to prepare an estate plan based on your unique circumstances and in a manner that will effectuate your wishes after your death.

Your estate planning lawyer knows a lot of stuff that you couldn’t possibly know. We’ve learned a lot through our years of education and our experience, especially in probating estates and learning from the mistakes others made.

Ultimately, as the beneficiaries of the estate of individuals who used Legal Zoom, wrote their own Will or used some other do-it-yourself form discovered… we may actually be less expensive than the alternative.

To be completely honest with you, although do-it-yourself estate planning documents may be great for my bank account… they may not be good for yours.

If you are one of the many people out there in the Boise area that has a do-it-yourself estate plan…call an experienced estate planning lawyer before it’s too late! It may save your loved ones a lot of time and money after you are gone.

UPDATE:  There is a Class Action lawsuit pending in Missiouri against Legal Zoom for the unauthorized practice of law in that state.  You can see the Complaint here.