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Non Estate Planning Documents You Should Have as Part of Your Estate Plan

Our goal as the premier Idaho estate planning firm is to provide our clients with customized advice and estate planning documents that will meet their particular circumstances and needs. We recognize that each family, and each client are unique. Because of this, a cookie cutter approach to estate planning simply does not work in meeting the needs of every person. Rather, the estate planning documents that are used should be customized to meet each individual's needs.

We also use a team approach when it comes to completing estate planning for each of our clients. Our team of Idaho estate planning attorneys includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys is highly qualified, skilled, and experienced in working with clients to determine what their specific and unique needs are when it comes to completing their personal estate planning. Our clients regularly give us the highest ratings possible based on the services we have provided them with.

In helping each of our clients we've come to learn that estate planning also includes more than just the regular estate planning documents such as a last will and testament, a power of attorney, a living will, a health care power of attorney, and trusts. Often additional documents are necessary to fully carry out the desires of our clients. The purpose of this article is to talk about some of these additional documents that should be included in your estate plan.

Pre-Paid Funeral Contract

Up to about a decade or so ago, when a family member passed away, their family would be required to go to a funeral home to make funeral plans for them. This all changed when companies began offering prepaid funeral contracts.

A prepaid funeral contract is exactly what it sounds like it is. An individual would while they are alive, go into a funeral home and plan their own funeral services. They would then pay for those services. The payment that's made usually buys an insurance policy that is used to pay a certain dollar amount of money to the funeral home when that individual passes away.

Some people are concerned about what happens if they get a prepaid funeral and then they move away or the funeral home where they got the prepaid policy goes out of business. Because it is a policy, like an insurance policy, it is transferable to other funeral homes as well. As a result, a prepaid funeral contract can be transferred if you happen to move to a different state or if the funeral home you entered into the contract with goes out of business. In this way, you have some assurance that most if not all of your funeral services will be paid for regardless of where those services are held.

Because of this, and because it takes the pressure off of your family after you have passed away, we highly recommend to our clients that they consider getting a prepaid funeral service. Additionally, by doing this you have some assurance that the services that will be held for you will be what you want. In addition to purchasing the policy you also have the ability to actually plan your memorial services which includes who the speakers will be, what music is played, and what other participants may be involved.

Letter of Instructions

In addition to a prepaid funeral, we also highly recommend that each of our clients create a letter of instructions for their family and loved ones. A letter of instructions has no binding legal effect, but it is often used as a way of communicating with those who are left behind after a loved one dies. Often, a letter of instructions will describe what memorial services a person would like. A letter of instructions is also a good place for discussing who should take care of pets that are left behind. Furthermore, a letter of instructions is a perfect place for an individual to leave a final expression of love to their family and other loved ones.

Through our experience we have found that often family members will find and read a letter of instructions far quicker than they will a last will and testament or other estate planning documents that are left behind. As a result, if you want to have your family follow your instructions for your memorial service shortly after you die, it is better to have this information in a letter of instructions rather than in your written last will and testament.

The "Big Book" of Information

The final document that we often suggest our clients should prepare is what we called the big book of information. Items that can go in the big book of information would include bank account information, credit card information, other debts and bills that are paid on a regular basis. Additionally, contact information for individuals who should be contacted after a person passes away. Insurance policy information, property tax information, retirement account information and investment account information can also be included.

In addition to these items many times people are now listing online accounts such as email account information, social media account information, online banking information, and other online accounts such as PayPal, Venmo, and other accounts that may have access to money.

The idea behind the big book of information is that you are providing a one-stop-shop for your family and loved ones to have access to the information they will need after you've passed away. Frankly, the big book of information is also useful to you while you are alive. It helps you remember all the different things that you have and that you are responsible for that should not be forgotten while you were alive as well as after you were gone.

We have found that the information contained in the big book of information is usually highly personal and needs to be kept confidential and safe. For this reason, we recommend that individuals usually hand write this information rather than type it up on your computer. Copies can then be made and can be held in a safety deposit box or in some other secure location. By taking these precautions, you can be assured that your confidential information will not fall into the wrong hands.

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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