Q&A - What happens if I die without a will? Will the state of Idaho take everything I own?

The good news is that the property only passes to the state of Idaho in the extremely unlikely event that the person has no living relatives. If there are any living relatives, even very remote ones, the property will pass to them in some fashion.

The bad news is that if you pass away without a Will or a Family Trust, the state of Idaho essentially provides a Will for you. The Idaho Code determines who will inherit your property.

If you are married and/or a parent, the state will order that your possessions be shared by your spouse and your children. If you have neither a spouse, nor any children, your property will go to your parents if they are living. If not, then to your brothers and sisters. Then to your grandparents. Then to any surviving children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren of your grandparents. Regardless of your wishes or the state of your relationship with your relatives, the state of Idaho simply dictates who the lucky relatives are who will inherit your property.

One thing that the law does not dictate is who will serve as the Guardian of your children. Any person who wants to can ask to be appointed to that position after you have passed away and it will be up to the probate court to determine who it thinks will be best. So if you have people you want to see in that position (or persons that you don’t want to see in that position), it is imperative that you leave a Will and/or a Trust that has been prepared by a skilled attorney and which has been properly signed, witnessed, and notarized.

Daniel Patchin

Benjamin Monaghan

If any of your desired heirs are not yet old enough or mature enough to handle their inheritance well, a Trust should be established by your attorney so that their inheritance can be managed for them until they are ready to handle it responsibly. After all, few things can be as destructive as an inheritance received before the heir is mature enough to deal with it well.

Finally, if you have no Will, it becomes a near-certainty that your family will be required to go through the delay, stress, lawyer fees, and court costs caused by the probate process. So, if you wish to spare them from all of that, it is imperative that a Trust be properly established before a person passes away.