By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

The goal of all good estate planning is to provide protection for the individual while they are alive and to allow their money, property, and assets to be distributed to the people they want them to go to after they pass away. One of the biggest assets that individuals have to transfer to someone else after they pass away usually is real estate. This could be a home, or it could be farm ground, or it could be an investment property. Regardless of what it is, real estate is unique, because it is one of the few assets in an estate that can actually trigger the need for a probate.

The purpose of this article is to talk about real estate and how it could affect your estate planning, and what happens with your estate after you pass away. By understanding these things, hopefully it will help you make some decisions about your own estate planning.

Deeds and Titles

In Idaho, a probate can be triggered really by two simple things.  The first is if the value of the estate regardless of what is in it is worth $100,000 or more. In this instance, a probate is required. The second trigger is real estate. Some people call this real property. It doesn’t really matter what you call it. Real estate includes homes, or land, or an investment property, or anything that has to do with land.

Land is owned by a deed or a title. In other words, if you purchase a home, the seller will provide you with a deed that names you as the new owner. This deed is recorded in the county recorder’s office where the property is located. This deed then acts as evidence of your ownership of that real property.

Because land is owned by a deed, a probate is required anytime a person passes away when their name is on the deed or title to any real estate. The reason for this, is that once a person passes away, there is now no one who has legal authority to sign the deceased person’s name to a deed transferring title or ownership in that real property to someone else. It is through the probate process where a person receives authority from the court to transfer title to the real property that is in the estate after a person has died. Because of this, deeds and titles are vitally important when it comes to an estate, and whether a probate is required for the estate after an individual passes away.

Trusts and Probates

Not everybody owns real estate. However, a large number of people do. Many of these people mistakenly believe that if they have their own written last will and testament, then there is no need for a probate. This is not true. The only real way to avoid a probate, when it comes to real estate, is that the deceased person no longer owns it prior to their death. In other words, they have to issue a deed that transfers their personal ownership in the real estate either to another person, or to an entity that can own it. One such entity would be a trust.

If prior to passing away, the person transfers their ownership interest in real estate into a trust, then, when that person passes away, they are no longer listed on the deed or title to that real property. In this instance then a probate can be avoided.

There is far more detail, and far more information about how estate planning can help you with your real estate than can be provided in a simple article. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to answer our clients questions and to help them make some decisions about their own real estate and their estate planning. We have helped numerous individuals create an estate plan that protects them while they are alive and provides for their loved ones after they have passed away. This is especially true when it comes to real property. We are confident that 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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