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Questions for Your Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Having helped Pocatello estate planning clients for over 70 years in creating their own customized estate plans that will meet their specific needs, we have come to learn that there's more to estate planning than simply writing a few things down on a piece of paper and then calling it a last will and testament. We have also had countless experiences where clients will come to us with an estate plan they had an attorney prepare for them who really did not know much about estate planning. In our experience, estate planning is like being an auto mechanic. There are some parts of it that seems simple enough, but you don't want the auto parts store clerk fixing your engine, unless you are assured he knows about engines.

Our team of Pocatello estate planning Attorneys at the Racine law office have been focusing on estate planning for more than 70 years. The members of our team include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of these attorneys is experienced and knowledgeable about working with clients who have simple estate plans or those who have complex plans. We are confident that we can assist you in answering your questions and helping you decide the way your estate plan can best protect you, your family and loved ones.

To help you decide whether the attorney you are talking to has the skills and ability to help you with your estate planning, here are a few questions you should ask the Pocatello attorney you are meeting with.

Do You Focus on Estate Planning?

It's always best to start at the beginning. In our opinion the first question you should ask the attorney you are thinking about hiring is whether their practice focuses on estate planning or not. There are many solo attorneys and other lawyers who don't focus on estate planning but that dabble in it when their clients ask them to. You may not want to hire an attorney to help you with your estate plan if they tell you they do "some" estate planning or "occasionally" help clients get it done. Estate planning is like the transmission in your car. It is a specialized area that requires specialized knowledge to make sure that your needs are being met. For this reason, you should avoid using an attorney who does not focus on estate planning.

Many clients have told us that when they've asked these questions the attorney they are talking to will sometimes getting defensive and try to explain to them that estate planning is not difficult to do. In our opinion, you should avoid using this kind of attorney to help you with your estate plan. Remember, your goal here is to make sure that the estate plan you are getting will be customized to meet your specific needs and will provide protection to you while you were alive and help your loved ones after you are gone.

What do You Include in an Estate Plan?

The second question that you should ask an attorney you may be using is what documents they include in the estate planning they create for their clients. Even a basic estate plan should include at the very least a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, a living will, and a health care power of attorney. If the Pocatello attorney you talk to doesn't mention these documents, you may want to look elsewhere.

In addition to the basic documents, depending on your specific needs you may also need a guardianship provision for young children which may include a Minor's Trust. Additionally, if you have a special needs child or a family member who is disabled you may need a Supplemental Needs Trust created. Finally, depending on your own personal circumstances you may need one of a variety of trusts for yourselves while you are alive.

Any attorney you use to help you create your own personal estate plan should get enough information from you to understand your personal and particular needs. This would include who your family members are as well as any other loved ones that you want to provide for and their circumstances as well. A customized estate plan cannot be created unless the attorney assisting you understands all of these details. If an attorney does not gather this information from you as they are helping you create your estate plan, it is because they do not understand its importance as a part of your estate plan. An attorney like this should be avoided.

How do You Charge for Creating an Estate Plan?

The next question that you should ask is how the attorney will charge you for creating the estate plan. Do they charge by the hour or do they charge a flat fee for creating the estate plan for you. Most experienced estate planning attorneys will take the time to understand what your particular needs are before they tell you what the charges will be. This allows the attorney to figure out exactly what estate planning documents and provisions you will need to protect you and your family.

At the Racine Olson law firm, our premier team of Pocatello estate planning attorneys give to each client a Confidential Estate Planning Questionnaire to gather the information we need to assist them. We then offer a initial consultation to answer our client's questions and to discuss with them the options they have for their estate planning. At the end of this meeting we provide a flat fee quote for what we will charge to help each client complete their customized estate plan. In this way, our clients have all the information they need to make a decision about whether they want to hire us to help them.

Does Your Practice Include Probate?

The final basic question that you should ask any attorney you are considering using to help you create your estate plan is whether their practice also includes probate. There are many different kinds and types of probates that can be completed in Idaho again depending on the circumstances of the person who passed away and their family members who survive them. You should ask the attorney you are talking with about the different kinds of probates that are available, as well as the fees they typically charge to do those probates.

If you are establishing a relationship with an attorney in creating your customized estate plan you should also have some confidence that this attorney can assist your loved ones with the probate and distribution process after you pass away. If the attorney you are talking to doesn't really do any probates, or doesn't know much about them, then you should consider using a different attorney.

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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