Harrison & Smyth, P.A.

How Is Probate Defined In Idaho?

Probate occurs after someone dies. It is when the personal representative gathers together the assets and distributes them consistent with your wishes. If there are minor children involved, the personal representative ensures they are properly taken care of.

What Are Some Common Misconceptions About The Probate Process?

In Idaho, probate is fairly straightforward. Often, people think that it is complicated and expensive and it should be avoided at all costs. However, in our experience, if you have a simple will and need to go through probate it is not as complicated as what most people believe. In some situations, a trust is appropriate in order to avoid the probate process. However, before deeding your house to someone else or taking other action to avoid probate, we would recommend you consult with an attorney to understand the legal and financial implications of these actions. You can visit with us to determine whether a simple estate plan is sufficient or if actions to avoid probate would be beneficial. You can bring peace of mind and greater certainty with regard to how your estate will be handled when you pass away.

What Are My Options For Avoiding Probate?

You can avoid probate by putting your assets into a trust. In order for that to be effective, you have to re-title all of your assets into the name of the trust, such as cars, properties, or bank accounts. We help you ensure your assets are re-titled at the time the trust is created. After a trust is created you will need to ensure new assets are titled in the name of the trust or you will have to go through the probate process to have them distributed. You can create a pour-over will which indicates any assets not in the name of the trust should be “poured over” into the trust and distributed as it states. If you own property outside the State of Idaho, a trust is very helpful to avoid having to file probate where the property is located.

You can also add people as joint owners on your accounts. However, legally, the money in a joint account becomes the surviving joint owner’s property and is not distributed as part of your estate. This may not be what you intended; adding a joint owner needs to be carefully examined prior to doing so.

Another way you can avoid probate is to transfer your home (or other titled assets) into the name of a child or someone else. We rarely recommend this since a creditor of the new owner will be able to seek payment from your asset. In addition, if the new owner goes through a divorce or has other financial difficulties, your assets may be involved. Lastly, you will lose the step up in basis so when the assets are sold after your death a higher tax will have to be paid. If you are thinking of taking any of these actions, we highly recommend you visit with our office to determine whether that is appropriate given your circumstances.

What Is The Standard Timeline For A Probate Case?

A personal representative is usually appointed within the first month. It can be done quicker than that if all the heirs are in agreement. The personal representative needs to determine the assets and debts and prepare an inventory within three (3) months. At the same time, the personal representative needs to publish notice in the newspaper in order to give notice of the death and that any claims against the estate need to be presented within four (4) months. Any known bills need to be paid. Any unknown claims need to be presented within the four (4) months. Once all the assets have been gathered or sold, at the end of the four (4) months the debts are paid and a proposed distribution of the remaining assets is determined. If everyone agrees on the proposal, an agreement can be signed and approved by the court. After the courts approval, assets are distributed and the estate is closed. Depending on the size of the estate and the amount of assets will determine how long it will take to settle an estate. It could be a matter of months or over a year.

We help the personal representative understand the process and give legal advice in order to help manage any dynamics between the heirs.

Can Someone Realistically Try To Navigate Through The Probate Process On Their Own?

The probate process in Idaho is very straightforward. There are forms you can find and file with the court. People generally reach out to an attorney when they want to hire a professional who can ensure the probate process is done right the first time. This gives peace of mind knowing it is being done right and they can spend time doing what they do best. As attorneys, we understand the probate process. We understand the court system. We seek to help you navigate that process and make it as easy as possible.

For more information on Probate Process In Idaho, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (208) 552-1165 today.


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