Parents of Blended Families Need an Estate Plan in Idaho

The estate planning process involves nominating guardians, power of attorney, choosing an executor, and asset distribution. A blended family, also known as a stepfamily, is a family consisting of a couple and their children from the current relationship and all previous relationships. If you do not have a Will or Trust, there can be multiple complications down the road for a blended family.

  1. What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised proceeding that passes on assets and takes at least six months. In Idaho, probate may be required to determine the proper beneficiaries and to appoint a personal representative to manage the estate if the decedent did not have a Will. Probate can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Creating an estate plan with an attorney can help lower the likelihood of your estate going through the probate waiting period.

  1. What Happens Without a Will?

When someone passes without a Will, their assets will be governed by intestacy succession law. Intestacy succession law varies by state and decides who will inherit estate assets after someone passes without a last Will. In Idaho, if you pass with a spouse but without a Will, the amount your spouse and legal children inherit partially depends on how much the decedent’s property was community property and separate property. Community property is property received during the marriage. Separate property is received before the marriage or acquired after by gift, bequest, device or descent, and ownership. An estate plan takes all your family’s interests into account and will ensure that your children from a prior relationship receive assets you brought into the marriage like family heirlooms.

  1. What Can Happen Without a Will or Trust?

If you do not have a Will or Trust, your property is also distributed according to Idaho intestate succession laws. In Idaho, separate property is divided dependent on if the deceased spouse has a living child or parent. For example, if the deceased spouse does not have surviving children or parents, the surviving spouse gets the entire intestate estate. If there is a surviving child or parent of the deceased spouse, the surviving spouse gets one-half of the intestate estate. For community property, one-half belonging to the deceased spouse is given to the surviving spouse. Additionally, stepchildren do not have a legal right to inheritance unless you have adopted them or named them in your estate plan.

Instead of passing all your assets over to your current spouse or not having a Will or Trust at all, you can name multiple beneficiaries and the funds to distribute to each to ensure fair treatment. For example, blended families may want to set up a Trust to ensure each child receives their inheritance if one spouse were to die before the other, this can help avoid potential unfair treatment or disagreements.

Estate Planning for Blended Families – In General

Estate planning is crucial for blended families because of potential problems that may arise. Careful estate planning ensures that children from prior relationships and children from the new marriage receive fair treatment. Contact a Gravis attorney today to create an estate plan that incorporates a sound strategy for your situation to protect your assets and family.


  • Nelsen v. Nelsen, 170 Idaho 102, 508 P.3d 301 (2022)
  • Martin v. Thelma V. Garrett Living Tr., 170 Idaho 1, 2, 506 P.3d 237, 238 (2022)
  • Gestner v. Divine, 171 Idaho 159, 519 P.3d 439 (2022)
  • Idaho Code Ann. § 32-906; § 15-3-102; § 15-2-101 (West)
  • 26 U.S.C.A. § 2056 (West)
  • ESTATE PLANNING FOR BLENDED FAMILIES, 33 Est. Plan. 47, 50, 2006 WL 2735242, 5

Penelope Gaffney, Attorney

Isabella Rupe