By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Most people don’t have any kind of an estate plan for themselves because they don’t know how to begin one. We do our best to make the process easy. To help our clients get started, we provide a free Estate Planning Questionnaire that we can either email to you or you can download from our web site. This is a PDF document that you can type directly into and save to your computer.

Once the Questionnaire is filled out, you can email it back to us. Then we schedule a free 30-minute consultation to review your information and discuss the things that are important to you when it comes to your own estate plan. Once we know what it is that you want to accomplish, we provide you with the options you have available, and we explain those options to you. This includes the flat fee prices we charge for each of the options you can choose from.

Our clients tell us this process removed any fear or intimidation they were feeling about how to get their estate planning done. Our goal is to make getting your estate planning easy.

As we go through this process, my clients often ask me questions. One of the questions that seems to come up regularly is once their estate planning is done, who should they give a copy of it to? This is a highly personal question. To answer this question I will provide some examples of things that I have seen clients do in the past.

Many times, clients will name their children to do some specific thing for them. We call this an appointment. It could be that they have listed a child to act as the personal representative of their estate after they pass away. Or, alternatively, they may have appointed one or more of their children to hold their power of attorney for them if they need help making decisions about and taking care of their money, property, finances, or healthcare.

Alternatively, some clients do not have children or have children who are not old enough to do these things for them. When this happens, these clients will often appoint their siblings, close friends, or sometimes even people they have a professional relationship with, such as their accountant or financial adviser. Regardless of who it is that you choose to appoint to do these things for you in your estate planning documents, one thing is certain, you should make sure these people are willing to do these things for you.

No person can be forced to accept an appointment made by another person. In other words, if you were appointed as a personal representative of your older brother’s estate, you may choose not to do it. Your decision may be based on your current circumstances, your current health, or the location of your brother’s estate and your inability to travel to that location. Whatever the reason, no person can be forced to fulfill an appointment.

Because of this, I advise my clients to, at the very least, check with the people they want to appoint. By doing this before the estate planning documents are signed, we know with certainty whether the people that are being appointed are willing to serve in the capacity they are listed.

Second, if you are making an appointment of a person to serve as your personal representative or to hold your power of attorney, I also advise my clients to provide a copy of the estate planning documents to these people. This gives the person the ability to read what exactly it is they are being appointed to. It also gives them the ability to ask questions about what it is they are being asked to do and the things that they should consider or understand about the appointment.

Keep in mind that your estate planning documents are your personal property. Because of this, you are in complete control of who receives them. Your estate planning attorney, by representing you, has an ethical obligation to keep all the work done for you confidential. This means your attorney cannot give a copy of your estate plan to anyone without your specific permission. As a result, it is up to you as to whether you give a copy of your estate planning documents to another person. Considering all the things you are asking someone to do if you make an appointment, it is wise to allow them to review those documents and understand exactly what you are asking them to do. By doing this, you are assured that this person will do the things you have asked them to accomplish.

If you have questions about who you should share your estate planning documents with, or if you need to create your own estate plan, we can help. We have assisted numerous clients in the creation, revision, and update of their estate plans. We are confident that we can help you too!


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lane@racineolson.com. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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