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Four Questions to ask Your Boise Estate Planning Attorney

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I will start this article out by simply saying that all attorneys are not created equally. The reason for this is that the law is like a giant universe full of stars, planets and other objects that are all unique. There are numerous types and areas of the law that exist and while they may be similar, they are not at all the same. The most common areas of the law that people are familiar with include personal injury, criminal law, business law, real estate, divorce law, and likely estate planning. In addition to these well-known areas there are also more specialized areas of the law that include things like immigration, investments, sports, employment, education, art, communications, banking, computers, bankruptcy, health, energy, insurance, medical, property, securities, and so forth. The list is simply too long to provide. The point is, that most laws that exist are highly specialized and require a good deal of time and experience to master. There is simply no one lawyer capable of mastering every area of the law. This perfectly describes the areas of estate planning and probate law.

At the Racine Law Office we have created a team of Boise estate planning attorneys that have more than 70 years of experience in assisting clients in creating their own customized estate plans. Not only do we stay on top of changes in estate planning and probate law by attending continuing educational courses, we are also often teaching these courses to other lawyers. Our team consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. We are confident that our team of qualified and skilled Boise estate planning and probate attorneys can help you.

The reason for this article is that we often find that clients will go to an attorney who specializes in some other area of the law and ask them to help with their estate planning. Some attorneys believe that estate planning is simple and doesn't require any specialized skills or knowledge to complete. There have been countless times we've had clients come in to us with an estate plan prepared by an attorney who didn't know anything about estate planning. As a result, we've ended up having to completely redo many of their documents to make sure that they are valid under current law and that they accomplish what our clients want. To help you determine whether the attorney you're considering using has the knowledge and skill to help you with your Boise estate planning, here are a few basic questions you should ask.

1. Is Your Law Practice Focused on Estate Planning?

The best first question you could ask the attorney you are considering using is whether their law practice focuses on estate planning and probate. To be sure, we do find that several areas of the law do crossover many times with estate planning. These would include real estate law and often some business law as well. However, if you ask this question and the attorney answers by telling you that they do divorces, or they do bankruptcies, or some other thing, and that they "occasionally" help clients get estate planning done, this is likely not the attorney you want to use. To put it simply, if you are having problem with your plumbing, you're not going to call an electrician to help you. Rather, you want a plumber. The same is true when it comes to estate planning. You want a lawyer who is qualified to help you.

Sometimes clients have told us that when they've asked a lawyer this question the lawyer will get defensive and tell them that estate planning is not complicated or difficult. The fact is, estate planning is complicated, and it should be customized to fit your specific circumstances. When it comes to estate planning you don't want a cookie cutter approach used for you, your family, and your loved ones. Rather, you want an estate plan that will accomplish your specific goals and meet your specific needs.

2. What Does It Cost to Have You Create an Estate Plan?

The next best question that you can ask an attorney you are considering using is how much does an estate plan cost. I love it when clients ask this question because it gives me the opportunity to explain how our Boise estate planning team approaches helping our clients. We provide each potential client with an Estate Planning Questionnaire for them to fill out with all the relevant information needed to help them make decisions about the types of things they may need in their estate plan. We then offer a initial consultation to go over their Questionnaire and to help our clients understand the options that exist for what they may want to accomplish. Once our clients determine what they feel they need to do, we then offer flat fee pricing on the estate planning we can do for them. We also do this under a very soft-sale type of situation. Our goal is to provide our clients with as much information as they need to help them determine whether, and what type of estate planning they need for themselves and for their family.

If you ask the question what does estate planning cost, and a lawyer simply throws out a price to you This is an indication that the lawyer will simply provide you with a non-customized, cookie cutter, boilerplate estate plan that is the same they've given to every client whose ask them to help with their estate planning. When it comes to your estate planning, this is exactly the kind of lawyer that you should avoid.

3. What Documents are Included?

The next question you should ask is what type of documents are included in an estate plan. While there are some very basic documents that every person should have, which include, a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a health care power of attorney, there may also be some other documents that you may need to meet you or circumstances. These could include a guardianship provision for young children, together with a Minor's Trust to provide for your children financially. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need some type of a Supplemental Needs or Special Needs Trust for a specific family member. Additionally, it's possible that you may have a need for a trust for yourself or for your spouse you are both alive.

An attorney who specializes in estate planning will understand that there is no one document that will meet every need you might have. This again is where our Questionnaire, and our initial consultation really helps our clients. Through the questions we are able to ask and based on the information we get from the estate planning questionnaire, we have the ability of discussing all the different kinds of estate planning documents that exist, and what they can do to help each of our clients individually.

4. Do You Include Probate as Part of Your Practice?

The final question that you should ask the attorney you were considering using is whether they also include probate as part of their legal practice. Ideally, if you have gone to an attorney to help you get your estate planning together, your family should feel comfortable in going back to that attorney if or when a probate is needed for your estate after you pass away. If the attorney that you're talking to says they can draft a will, but they don't do any probate work, you should look for a different attorney.

In this regard, our team of Boise estate planning attorneys at the Racine Law Office are unique. We have attorneys who specialize in all areas of elder law, Medicaid, estate planning, wills, trusts, trust administration, and probate. If anyone member of our team can no longer help you, the remainder of the team is there to continue to provide support and assistance to you and your family. We are confident that whatever your estate planning, or probate needs are, we can help you and your family.

Enlist a Boise Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Boise estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or are in need of 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 Boise Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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