By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

I love living in Idaho. Not only is it a picturesque and beautiful state it also has very favorable laws when it comes to estate planning and probate. Additionally, the costs for getting these things done is lower than just about any other state.

Having been an estate planning and probate attorney for more than 20 years, I’ve completed my fair share of probates. I am also licensed in Utah and have had an opportunity to become familiar with the estate planning and probate laws of several surrounding states. Because of this, I can tell you with certainty, that Idaho is a special place.

This has never been truer than when it comes to completing a probate for a deceased spouse. In most states, when a spouse passes away, a regular probate must be completed. Idaho has this option as well, which has to be followed in certain circumstances. However, because Idaho is also a community property state, which means that it utilizes community property laws, it offers a special type of probate for a surviving spouse when everything in the estate is community property. This special type of probate is called a summary administration. I like to call it the “speedy” probate.

Based on applicable Idaho law, a regular, informal probate has to remain open at least 6 months after the date the order is issued that appoints a person to be the personal representative. This is a statutory requirement. The reasons for this are easy to understand. A specific amount of time is needed for notice to be sent to all creditors, for creditors’ claims to be filed, processed, and resolved, and for an accounting and distribution to be made to all the beneficiaries of the estate.

A summary administration however is much quicker. It is also controlled by statute (Idaho Code § 15-3-1205) and states that at its longest it can be completed within usually about 45 days. Many counties will allow it to be completed much sooner if all the heirs or parties who have an interest in the estate file a document waiving the required hearing.

Upon completion of the hearing, the court will render or issue an order that legally “vests” the entire estate, which is all the community property, in the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse is then subject to any creditors’ claims that existed before the summary administration occurred. In other words, any debts that existed by the deceased spouse prior to their death are now the obligation of the surviving spouse.

A summary administration is a much faster and less expensive way for probate to be completed which allows for the seamless transfer of all the property from the deceased spouse to the surviving spouse. This includes real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investment accounts, and any other type or kind of property that could exist.

Most other states don’t provide a summary administration option for a surviving spouse. Because of this, Idaho is unique in continuing to offer protections and favorable laws that deal with community property and the estates they are involved in. So, if you live in Idaho, and your spouse passed away, feel free to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we can describe the summary administration process and help you complete the necessary probate. We have helped numerous clients through this process, and we are confident we can help you too!


If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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