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What If My Parent Did Not Name Me In Their Will?

Last will and testamentl

Keeping an updated, written last will and testament is the surest way to guarantee that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death.  Where there is no will, or where someone who apparently should otherwise inherit property is left out of the will, Idaho statutes provide guidance as to how the property will be distributed.  People with deceased parents may discover that their parent did not prepare a will in advance of their death or did not include them in the will.  Read below for a discussion of what may happen to a child left out of their parent’s will, and contact a Twin Falls probate attorney at Canyon River Law with any additional questions.

There is no will

If there is no will, then Idaho’s laws of “intestacy” will apply.  Intestacy simply means that there is no official will, and Idaho’s intestate statutes guide the distribution of the estate’s assets in that situation.  Idaho Code 15-2-101 et seq. lays out Idaho’s intestate law. 

According to Idaho law, property will be distributed as follows, in the most common situations: 

  • If the deceased has children but no spouse, then the children inherit everything and each receives equal shares.
  • If the deceased has a spouse but no living descendants (children or grandchildren) or parents, then the spouse inherits everything.
  • If the deceased has living parents but no spouse or descendants, then the parents will get everything.
  • If the deceased has a spouse and descendants, then (a) the spouse inherits all of the community property and half of the separate property, while (b) the descendants inherit half of the separate property.
  • If the deceased has a spouse and living parents, (a) the spouse inherits all of the community property and half of the separate property, while (b) the parents inherit half of the separate property.
  • If there are no living children, grandchildren, or parents, then the assets go to any living grandparents or to the other descendants of deceased grandparents.

So, if you are a child and your parent has no will, you will receive a portion of your parent’s estate automatically by law. 

There is a will, but my parent did not name me

Often a person will write a will and then not update it for decades before their death.  Occasionally they will have additional children and will fail to update the will accordingly.  If your parent’s will names some children but others are later born after the will was written, the unnamed children are called “pretermitted.”  Idaho law provides that a pretermitted child is entitled to a share of the estate equal to what the child would have received if there had been no written will, as described above. 

As a result, if you were born after your parent’s will was executed, and for that reason were left out, you will still receive a share of the estate.  Even if you were born before the will was executed but you were not named anywhere in the will, Idaho law presumes that you were simply forgotten.  You will receive some portion of the estate, unless that distribution is challenged by the administrator of the estate or by another interested party.  An experienced estate planning lawyer can help you secure the portion of the estate to which you are entitled if the will is unclear.

I was specifically disinherited in the will

Idaho law protects the desires of the deceased if clearly written in a will.  If the will specifically names you and states you are not to receive anything from the estate, then you will not be entitled to any of the estate.

For seasoned and professional legal help with an Idaho probate or estate planning matter, contact the Twin Falls offices of Canyon River Law Firm at 208-736-6000.

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