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Five Questions You Should ask Your Estate Planning Attorney

Although estate planning doesn’t need to be complex, there’s more to it than simply putting a few things down on a piece of paper and signing and dating it. When it comes to Idaho law, there are several specific formal requirements that must be met in order for estate planning documents to be valid. Many times, solo attorney and other lawyers who don’t really do estate planning law attempt to help their clients in getting their estate planning done. The reality is that estate planning is a lot like a working on a car. When there is a problem with a transmission, you don’t take your car to a mechanic who only deals with tires. Rather, you find a mechanic who knows and understands transmissions.

At the Racine Law Office our premier team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have been assisting clients for over 70 years in creating customized estate plans to meet their specific needs. Whether it is a simple will or a complex trust or series of trusts that you need, we are confident that we have the skills, knowledge, and experience to help you. Our team of attorneys consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys have obtained the highest rankings possible on several leading legal rating services including Martindale-Hubbell, Justia, and AVVO.

Whether it is fixing your car or getting your estate planning done you need expert assistance. To determine whether the attorney you are thinking of using has the skill, knowledge and ability to help you with your estate planning, here are five simple questions you should ask your estate planning attorney.

1. How Much of Your Practice Involves Estate Planning?

The first question that you should ask the attorney you are considering using is how much of their practice involves estate planning. Again, the goal here is for you to determine whether the attorney you are considering using is an expert who has the skill and experience necessary to help you with your needs. If your attorney says that their practice includes “some” estate planning or that they do “occasional” estate planning, this may not be the right attorney for you.

When you ask this question, some attorneys might get defensive and say something such as how their practice mainly involves litigation but estate planning is not that difficult. The main thing that you should remember is that estate planning is all about protecting you while you are alive and providing for your loved ones after you pass away. In order to accomplish this, you need to make sure that the attorney you are hiring to help you has the skill, experience and ability to understand what your needs will be and how to use your estate planning as a way of accomplishing what you want.

2. What is Included in an Estate Plan?

The next most important question you should ask the attorney you are considering using is what is included in an estate plan. The basic documents that every person should have as a part of their estate plan include a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a health care power of attorney. You may also need some additional documents such as a supplemental needs trust for individuals in your family who are disabled or handicapped. Alternatively, if you have young children you may need a guardianship provision in your estate planning as well as a minor’s trust to protect and preserve money for your children until they are older.

Additionally, if you own numerous assets including businesses, real estate, or other valuable items, your estate planning may also need to include other types of trusts in order to protect and preserve these assets for your loved ones. While it’s true that many estate plans are simple, not all of them are. Each estate plan will be based on the client’s own unique and particular circumstances. A cookie cutter estate plan will likely not be adequate to protect you during your life and provide for your loved ones after you die. For this reason, the attorney that you are considering using should have the skill and ability to (a) recognize your particular needs; (b) recognize the needs of your family and loved ones; and (c) customize an estate plan to meet all of these particular needs.

3. How do You Charge for Estate Planning?

The third question that is always important to ask the estate planning attorney you are thinking about using is how they charge for the estate planning work they will do for you. A skilled estate planning attorney should be able to provide a quote to you of flat fee charges for the estate planning work they can do. However, a good estate planning attorney will first tell you that they need to take time with you to understand what your particular needs are before they can quote you a fee. Rather than just throwing out quotes, the estate planning attorney you are considering should provide you with a consultation for the purpose of asking you questions to make sure they understand which estate planning documents will specifically help you. It is after this meeting that your attorney can quote you flat fee prices for the work they can accomplish for you.

If you have an attorney that says they do this kind of work based on an hourly rate, you should walk away. Additionally, if the attorney you are considering says it won’t cost much and “we’ll see where it is when we’re done,” you should consider using another attorney.

4. Does Your Practice Include Probate?

The next question that you should ask the attorney you are considering using is whether their practice includes probate as well as estate planning. These are two very specific areas of the law that while similar, are not the same. The purpose of estate planning is to provide protection for you while you’re alive and to allow you to make a plan of how to distribute your property, money, and assets to your loved ones after you die. It is the probate process where the distribution occurs.

If your attorney says all they do is estate planning, but they don’t do probate, then you should consider finding another attorney. Understanding how probate works, what the processes and procedures are, and whether a probate is even needed are very important skills your estate planning attorney should have while they are creating an estate plan for you. The reason for this is that many people want to avoid probate which can be accomplished through your estate planning documents if they are handled the right way.

5. How do You Charge for Probate?

The final question you should ask is how much the attorney you are considering charges for the probate work they do. Again, this is an opportunity for the attorney that you are considering to explain to you the probate process, the steps that are involved, the time period that is involved, and the overall charges for these services.

Our premier team of Idaho estate planning attorneys use a diagram, or chart to explain the probate process, what is involved, the specific steps that are included, and the time frame for completing a probate based on current Idaho law. We provide this diagram to our clients at the end of our meeting, so they will remember the things that we discussed with them concerning probate. We also provide a range of fees for the services that are provided so that when an individual walks out of our office they will understand what the costs for a probate will be. We do all of this free of charge so that our clients have a complete understanding before they have any financial obligation to us.

As we state above, our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys have assisted numerous clients in creating their estate plan for over 70 years. Additionally, we have also helped many clients through the probate process. Based on our experience and skill, we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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