By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

After nearly 20 years of experience in working as an Idaho estate planning attorney I have helped numerous clients complete their own Idaho estate plans. Additionally, I’ve guided many families, and close relatives through the probate process in Idaho after a loved one has passed away. Based on these experiences I’ve had an opportunity to learn and work with Idaho law closely. Here are three specific Idaho estate planning secrets that I have learned.

1. Probate in Idaho May Not Be Necessary

The first secret that I have learned is that in Idaho a probate may not always be necessary. Whether a probate is required or not is controlled by specific Idaho laws. These laws state that there are really two circumstances when a probate is required in Idaho.

The first circumstance is that an individual dies at a time when they own an interest in some type of real estate. This could be a home that they lived in, or bare ground, or it could be farm ground. Really any type of land or real estate counts. The reason for this is that real estate is owned in Idaho by a title document known as a deed. The deed is the document that a person receives that describes the real estate and has their name listed as an owner. The deed is recorded with the county recorder’s office where the land is located.

While the person is alive, they have the ability to sell the land, or give the land away as a gift, and sign a deed to do this. However, when a person passes away, there now is no person who has legal authority to sign a deed that would transfer the ownership away to someone else. After a person dies, the only way that authority can be given to another individual to transfer land away from a person who has died is when a court enters an order appointing a person as the legal personal representative. The probate process is where this order is entered.

The second circumstance where a probate is required under Idaho law is when an individual passes away at a time when their estate, which includes all their money, property, and assets, is valued over the sum of $100,000. This is a statutory requirement.

Based on these laws, probate in Idaho can be avoided, if a person does not own any land or when their estate is valued at less than $100,000 when they die. When this occurs, there are other Idaho laws that apply which allow the transfer of property without requiring the probate process.

As Idaho estate planning attorneys our job is to work with our clients to help them determine whether a probate is required. If a probate is required we are experienced in assisting our clients in completing the process. When a probate is not required we also assist our clients in transferring property through the other legal means available.

2. Probate in Idaho is Very Inexpensive

The second secret about Idaho Estate Planning is that in the event a probate is required after a loved one passes away, it is very inexpensive in Idaho. In many states, the costs of a probate are tied directly to the size of the estate involved. Many states require a percentage of the estate to be paid as either a probate fee or as a statutory fee to the attorneys or to the personal representatives. However, in Idaho, none of these requirements exist. Rather, most probates in Idaho can be a completed for a relatively small expense.

Our jobs as Idaho estate planning attorneys is to guide our clients through the probate process as efficiently and as inexpensively as possible. We take pride in the numerous families that we have assisted through the probate process.

3. There is More to Estate Planning Than Just Your Will

The third secret is that there is far more to Idaho estate planning than just having a last will and testament. The last will and testament is the document that is used to give your property away to others after you die. While, a last will and testament is an important document, it is not the only estate planning a document that exists. In fact, in my opinion, the last will and testament is the least important part of your estate planning.

Other documents that may be necessary to prepare a complete Idaho estate plan for your include: (1) a guardianship for children who are under the age of 18; (2) a power of attorney for yourself; (3) a living will coupled with a power of attorney for health care; and (4) possible a trust, depending on the circumstances of the individual and their loved ones. Each of these documents has a specific role in providing protection for you and your loved ones while you are alive. Because these documents affect you while you are alive, they have a much greater impact on your own personal life than your last will and testament ever does.

By understanding these three secrets about Idaho estate planning, you can now complete estate planning for not only yourself but also for your loved ones as well. We are confident that we can help.


When it comes to estate planning or probate you should never try to do it alone. If you have questions for yourself or for your family and loved ones, we can help. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Idaho.

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