By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney
Having been an estate planning attorney in Idaho for 20 years, my practice also often includes assisting family and friends when a loved one has passed away. The assistance that I provide is through the probate process.
Most people don’t have much experience with the Idaho probate process or understand what it is. It’s for this reason that I provide a free 30-minute consultation to explain the probate process, and to answer the questions that my clients have. Part of this free 30-minute consultation includes my providing a diagram of the probate process, and discussing the steps involved, the timeline of the probate process and the costs and expenses that are usually included.
We have helped numerous clients through the probate process when a family member or loved one has passed away. If you have questions or concerns about probate, please contact us so we can provide a free 30-minute consultation to you as well. In the meantime, the purpose of this article is to give you a basic understanding of the three main purposes of Idaho probate.
Appoint a Personal Representative
The first purpose of a probate in Idaho is to appoint a personal representative. The individual who will be appointed as the personal representative is determined by a number of different factors including whether or not there is a written last will and testament. If there is a written last will and testament the law in Idaho states that whoever the individual nominated as their personal representative has the highest priority of being appointed.
Things are much different if there is no written last will and testament. When this occurs the Idaho laws of intestacy provide a list of priorities of who can be appointed as a personal representative. As you can imagine, the individuals who have the highest priority usually include spouses, children, and other family members. It is through the probate process that the court determines who the personal representative is and that allows a court to enter an order that actually appoints the personal representative with legal authority.
Pay All Valid Debts
The second main purpose of an Idaho probate is so that all valid debts are paid. In other words, the individual who passed away likely had creditors that he or she owed money to. These creditors could include a financial institution who holds a mortgage on the home. Additionally, it could include credit cards or utility bills or funeral expenses or medical expenses or anything similar.
The law in Idaho requires that all valid creditors are paid before any distributions are made from the estate of an individual who passed away. In other words, before any money, property, or other assets of the estate can be given to family members or other loved ones, all valid bills and debts must be paid first. The probate process allows the person who is appointed as the personal representative to pay creditors who hold valid debts. Additionally, the probate process is used as a way of filtering out and protecting both the estate and the beneficiaries from having someone claiming to be a creditor when they really aren’t. The probate process allows a court to review claims when they are challenged by the personal representative and to determine whether or not they are valid.
Distribute Assets from the Estate
The final main purpose of a probate is to distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries of the person who passed away. Again, this is controlled by whether or not a written last will and testament exists. If it does, the instructions that are listed in the last will and testament usually control the distribution of the money, property, and other assets of the estate to the individuals who are named.
When there is no written last will and testament then the laws of intestacy control. Once again, these laws provide a list of priorities of individuals who will receive property from the estate. These priorities include spouses, children, and then other relatives. It is through the probate process that a determination is made as to who the actual beneficiaries of the estate are and what portion of the estate they will receive.
If someone challenges a written last will and testament or the distributions that are proposed through the laws of intestacy, it’s the probate process that allows a court to review this challenge and to make a determination as to who the beneficiaries actually are.
For those who have not been involved in it before a probate can be very intimidating. We understand this. We have helped numerous clients through the probate process and we are confident that we can answer your questions and help you too!
ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU
Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your estate planning or probate needs. Whether you are seeking to create or review an estate plan for yourself or would like to help a loved one, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial free 30-minute consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation. You can also email Lane V. Erickson directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning problems.