There are two different possible taxes based on various scenarios proposed by the OP or the lawyer who drew up the OP's father's will or the OP's mother.
First, there is the estate tax which is paid by the estate of the deceased, and the heirs get what is left. Most estates in the US pay no estate tax whatsoever because most estates are smaller than $5.4M lifetime gift and estate tax exemption. But, for the record, even though IRAs pass from owner to beneficiary independent of whatever the will might say about the disposition of the IRAs, the value of the deceased's IRAs is part of the estate, and if the estate is large enough that estate tax is due and there is not enough money in the rest of the estate to pay the estate tax (e.g. most of the estate value is IRA money and there are no other investments, just a bank account with a small balance), then the executor of the will can petition the probate court to claw back some of the IRA money from the IRA beneficiaries to pay the estate tax due.
Second, there is income tax that the estate must pay on income received from the estate's assets, e.g. mutual fund dividends paid between the date of death and the distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries, or income from cashing in IRAs that have the estate as the beneficiary.
Now, most of OP's father's estate is in IRAs which have the OP's mother as the primary beneficiary and there are no named secondary beneficiaries. Thus, by default, the estate is the IRA beneficiary should the OP's mother disclaim the IRAs as the lawyer has suggested. As @JoeTaxpayer says in a comment, if the OP's mother disclaims the IRA, then the estate must distribute all the IRA assets to the three beneficiaries by December 31 of the year in which the fifth anniversary of the death occurs. If the estate decides to do this by itself, then the distribution from the IRA to the estate is taxable income to the estate (best avoided if possible because of the high tax rates on trusts). What is commonly done is that before December 31 of the year following the year in which the death occurred, the estate (as the beneficiary) informs the IRA Custodian that the estate's beneficiaries are the surviving spouse (50%), and the two children (25% each) and requests the IRA custodian to divide the IRA assets accordingly and let each beneficiary be responsible for meeting the requirements of the 5-year rule for his/her share. Any assets not distributed in timely fashion are subject to a 50% excise tax as penalty each year until such time as these monies are actually withdrawn explicitly from the IRA (that is, the excise tax is not deducted from the remaining IRA assets; the beneficiary has to pay the excise tax out of pocket). As far as the IRS is concerned, there are no yearly distribution requirements to be met but the IRA Custodial Agreement might have its own rules, and so Publication 590b recommends discussing the distribution requirements for the 5-year rule with the IRA Custodian. The money distributed from the IRA is taxable income to the recipients. In particular, the children cannot roll the money over into another IRA so as to avoid immediate taxation; the spouse might be able to roll over the money into another IRA, but I am not sure about this; Publication 590b is very confusing on this point. All this is assuming that the deceased passed away before well before his 70.5th birthday so that there are no issues with RMDs (the interactions of all the rules in this case is an even bigger can of worms that I will leave to someone else to explicate).
On the other hand, if the OP's mother does not disclaim the IRAs, then she, as the surviving spouse, has the option of treating the inherited IRAs as her own IRAs, and she could then name her two children as the beneficiaries of the inherited IRAs when she passes away. Of course,
by the same token, she could opt to make someone else the beneficiary (e.g, her children from a previous marriage) or change her mind at any later time and make someone else the beneficiary (e.g. if she remarries, or becomes very fond of the person taking care of her in a nursing home and decides to leave all her assets to this person instead of her children, etc). But even if such disinheritances are unlikely and the children are perfectly happy to wait to inherit till Mom passes away, as JoeTaxpayer points out, by not disclaiming the IRAs, the OP's mother can delay taking distributions from the IRAs till age 70.5, etc. which is also a good option to have.
The worst scenario is for the OP's mother to not disclaim the IRAs, cash them in right away (huge income tax whack on her) or at least 50% of them, and gift the OP and his sibling half of what she withdrew (or possibly after taking into account what she had to pay in income tax on the distribution). Gift tax need not be paid by the OP's mother if she files Form 709 and reduces her lifetime combined gift and estate tax exemption, and the OP and his sibling don't owe any tax (income or otherwise) on the gift amount. But, all that money has changed from tax-deferred assets to ordinary assets, and any additional earnings on these assets in the future will be taxable income. So, unless the OP and his sibling need the cash right away (pay off credit card debt, make a downpayment on a house, etc), this is not a good idea at all.