Is there a Time Limit to Probate a Will?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

There are several good reasons why you would want to meet with your estate planning and probate attorney. One of those reasons would be when you have a family member or loved one pass away. When this happens, it’s likely that you and others will have many questions and concerns. There’s no reason why you should carry these burdens and let them worry or bother you. Rather, you would be wise to meet with your estate planning and probate attorney as soon as you can so you can get answers to your questions and find out what needs to be done.

We offer a free 30-minute consultation where we discuss the probate process with our clients and answer their questions. I found that when I do this with my clients, they always feel relieved about having a better understanding of the things that need to be accomplished. We encourage you to contact us immediately if you’ve had a family member or loved one pass away.

The purpose of this blog is to answer the question of whether there is a time limit in Idaho to probate a written last will and testament. The simple answer is yes there is. Under applicable Idaho law which is found at Idaho Code §§ 15-3-108 and 15-3-301(7) a person has three (3) years to probate a written last will and testament. If a probate is not started within that time, then the written last will and testament is no longer considered valid.

There are a couple of exceptions to this 3-year rule. However, these exceptions usually only deal with circumstances where a person’s death has not been confirmed. In other words, if a person is absent, disappears or goes missing, the three-year time limit may be extended until the law legally determines that the person has died.

In addition to the three-year limitation to probate a written last will and testament, there are also many practical reasons why a probate should be commenced and completed as soon as possible. The most common reason would be when there is real estate or bank accounts or some other asset involved that cannot be properly transferred without the probate being completed.

In the probate process, a personal representative is appointed by a court that has jurisdiction over the individual who passed away. When this occurs, the court grants legal authority to the personal representative to deal with all of the assets of the decedent. This would include real estate and other titled assets as well as assets such as bank accounts that are held by third parties. For example, when a parent passes away that owns a home, the children who survived cannot sell the home until a probate has been commenced and a personal representative is granted legal authority by a court. When a personal representative is appointed, that person has the ability to sell the home, or transfer the home to the beneficiaries of the decedent. This transfer is legally enforceable the same as if the decedent themselves had made the transfer while they were alive.

We encourage all of our clients to speak with an attorney as quickly as possible after a family member or loved one has passed away. This is important because it preserves the ability for a written last will and testament to be probated which allows the intentions and wishes of the decedent to actually happen. Additionally, a probate allows for the right steps to be taken with a decedent’s estate after they pass away.

If you’ve had a family member or a loved one passed away recently, we encourage you to contact us for a free 30-minute consultation where we will answer your questions and help you understand the probate process. We have assisted numerous clients through probate and 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.

Contact Information