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Do You Really Need an Estate Planning Attorney?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

We live in a do-it-yourself society. There’s never been a time when more information has been available to an individual to learn how to do something on their own then there is right now. It’s not uncommon for a person who needs to change their hot water heater to watch YouTube videos or read some articles on the internet about how to do it. The same is true for fixing your own car, building your own fence, doing your own taxes, and in some instances taking care of your own estate planning as well.

It’s true that every person should have at least a basic estate plan which includes a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a healthcare power of attorney. However, the purpose and goal of these documents in the things that they do accomplish for each specific individual can be vastly different. Additionally, a person may need more than just these documents. They may also need one or more trusts depending on the circumstances of their own lives and the lives of their family members and loved ones. Because of this, using a cookie-cutter approach, such as watching a YouTube video, or using online software, does not help you with the particular and unique circumstances that you may have in your life.

At the Racine law office, our team of premier Idaho estate planning attorneys work to make sure that your estate-planning is customized to meet your individual and specific needs. We also work to make sure your estate planning actually does what you want it to do and is valid under Idaho law. All of the attorneys on our team are experienced and qualified in helping each of our clients individually. We have each earned the highest rankings possible based upon their experience, knowledge, abilities and ethics from the several notable legal rating services including AVVO, Martindale & Hubbell and Justia. More importantly, our team of attorneys have the skill and experience to help you.

Below is a short list of several of the reasons why you should hire a qualified Idaho estate planning attorney to help you get your estate planning done right.

You Need an Entire Estate Plan, Not Just a Will

As was mentioned above, every person should have at least a basic estate plan. This estate plan should be complete. A complete estate plan includes at least the four documents that are listed above. However, an estate plan that’s customized for your needs could also include one or more trusts as well.

Most do-it-yourself packages only include a last will and testament. In fact, most people who are doing their own estate plan are only aware of a last will and testament. Most individuals are not aware of the other documents they should have as part of their basic estate plan and most do-it-yourself kits don’t include these documents because these documents are often specialized for the state in which they are used.

Moreover, your last will and testament is a document that only distribute your money, property, and other assets after you pass away. However, the other documents listed above are designed to protect you while you are alive and to govern the use of your money and property to take care of you. If you do not have these other documents, then your family is forced to do an expensive and possibly contentious guardianship for you and your property.

Children who are Minors

Additionally, most do it yourself estate planning kits do not take into consideration very important things that need to be a part of your estate plan if you have children who are minors. A minor is a child who is under the age of 18. If the parents pass away when they have children that are under the age of 18, then guardians will have to be appointed for those children. A person has the ability to nominate who they will appoint as the guardians of their own children in the event they were to pass away.

Most do it yourself estate planning kits do not take into consideration dealing with minor age children. If you do not nominate the guardians for your children, then once again, during the guardianship proceedings, it’s possible that well-meaning family members could disagree about who should be appointed. This could easily result in a contentious and expensive legal battle before a guardian is named for your young children. All of this could be avoided by using a qualified Idaho estate planning attorney who can help you make these decisions and include them as part of your estate planning documents.

Family Members who are Disabled

In addition to young children, it’s also possible that your children or other family members could have a disability or a handicap. In this instance, your family members are often receiving benefits from federal, state, or local governmental agencies. If you do not handle your estate-planning correctly, then these family members could lose those benefits.

Additionally, some parents have children who are suffering from addictions to things such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other destructive behaviors. Your estate planning documents should reflect this and give you an opportunity to provide for these family members without giving money, property, or other things to them directly, that could enable the destructive behaviors you would rather that they avoid.

You have the ability to do this through a customized estate plan. For this reason, using a qualified attorney will help you.

You Have a High Net Worth

Yet another reason that you should use an experienced Idaho estate planning attorney is if you have a high net worth. In this instance, you may want to do some tax planning, or some other planning that would be beneficial for you, your estate, and your family members.

The more money, property, and other assets that you own, the more complex your estate-planning will likely be. Additionally, the more options you have available to you to accomplish your estate planning. You won’t be able to accomplish any of these things if you use a cookie cutter approach to your estate-planning documents. Rather, you need an experienced attorney who can talk with you about the options you have and give you the ability to make decisions that will be best for you, your estate, and your family.

For more than 70 years we have helped numerous clients complete their own customized estate plans. We are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.

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