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Your Basic Estate Planning Checklist to Help You Begin

As Pocatello estate planning attorneys we often find that our clients usually procrastinate getting their estate planning done because they don't know where or how to start. WE recognize that most people don’t like to think about their own mortality. We also know that most people don’t have the expertise to begin preparing a written estate plan for themselves. With over 70 years of experience helping clients we know that our job is to provide you with the expertise you need. We enjoy meeting with clients and discussing with them their ideas and goals in planning for both themselves and for their family after they die.

Our Pocatello Attorneys work with each client to customize an estate plan. Our goal is to help each client make sure that their final wishes are carried out when it comes to giving their money and property to the people that they’ve named. Made up of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley our Pocatello Estate Planning team has received the highest rankings from Justia, AVVO, and Martindale & Hubbell. With our knowledge and experience we are confident we can help you create a customized plan for you and your family.

So where do you begin? Often all it takes to get started is a basic estate planning checklist. Here are some of the basic items on the checklist we use when helping client complete their customized estate plan:

Taking Care of Yourself

The first and most important thing you can use your estate planning for it to take care of yourself first. This may sound a little selfish but the reality is that your Last Will and Testament only becomes effective after you die. Before you die, it’s the other documents that help create your customized estate plan that help you. These include your Durable Power of Attorney, your Living Will, and your Power of Attorney for Health Care.

These documents provide for your future while you are alive. For example, suppose for a moment that you suffer some sort of injury or illness that makes it so you can no longer take care of your own finances. If you lose the ability to manage your own finances and financial affairs, the law in Idaho would require that someone be appointed for you through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. This process takes time and money to complete. By having a complete estate plan that includes the documents listed above, there would be no need for costly court proceedings.

To complete these documents you should spend some time thinking about who you would identify as your power of attorney. This person literally steps into your shoes and takes care of all of your finances just the same as you would. With the internet and the ability to deal with bank accounts and bills online it often is unnecessary for this person to live close to you. However, when it comes to the Power of Attorney for Health Care, you may want to name someone who lives close to you. This person will likely be taking you to the doctor and will be helping you with decisions about what medicine to take and medical procedures you will receive.

Taking Care of Minor Children

The next step in the checklist is to consider taking care of your minor children. The reason this step is second is because it pre-supposes that you have passed away. If both you and your spouse pass away the legal guardians for your minor children will be gone. A basic estate planning checklist always includes considering who you would name as the legal guardians of your minor children.

Most people chose family members but you don’t have to name a person in your family if you have a close friend that you would trust to care for your children instead. The real key is that you consider who could and would be willing to do this for you. If you fail to complete this it is possible that you are creating a situation where your family may not agree on who the legal guardian for your children should be. When this happens, family members spend a good deal of time and money fighting in court. When you name a legal guardian for your children, you are assured that you are saving money, time and possibly even relationships.

Bank Accounts, Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts

The final thing to consider in your Estate Planning checklist is your finances. This includes your life insurance, your bank and investment accounts, and your retirement accounts. Each of these types of accounts is controlled by third-party contracts you have signed up on through the banks, and other companies you are using. Often our estate planning clients are surprised to learn that when they complete their estate planning they aren’t done. It is also necessary to complete beneficiary designations for each of these accounts. Whether they are called beneficiaries or payable upon death designations they need to be done.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Having a customized checklist for completing your account should make it easier for you to begin. We are certain that we can help you. Our Pocatello Attorneys are here to help you and your family 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 of attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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