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How to Avoid Probate in Idaho

So You Want to Avoid Probate in Idaho, Here is How You can do It

Idaho estate planning is more than just giving your property and assets away to your family and loved ones. Rather, the purpose of estate planning is to look down the road of the future and determine what all the worst possible scenarios are that can happen to you, and then coming up with a plan to avoid or protect you and your loved ones from all of those things. For various reasons, over the years we have come to learn that many people think that probate is one of the worst things that can happen to them and their family. As a result of this belief, the number one thing that many people want to do is to find a way to avoid probate.

As a premier Idaho estate planning firm, the estate planning team of attorneys at the Racine Law Office works with each client to meet their specific and individual needs. Each of the lawyers that are estate planning team are knowledgeable, experience, and skilled in assisting each person we work with. Our team includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys has years of experience in helping estate planning clients. Based on the skills and abilities of our team of attorneys, we have received the highest rankings possible from client reviews on Martindale-Hubbell, AVVO, and Justia, which are the most popular legal rating services today.

Not everyone cares about or is worried about avoiding probate in Idaho. However, if you are concerned about completing a probate in Idaho and you want to learn about the ways that you can avoid it, we can help you. If you do want to avoid probate in Idaho here are four specific ways that it can be done.

1. Spend Your Estate on Yourself

The single best way to avoid probate in Idaho is to spend all of your money, property, and assets, on yourself during your lifetime, so that there are no assets left that need to be probated when you die. Specifically, in Idaho a probate is required after you die anytime your estate includes any assets that have a value of $100,000 or more. Additionally, a probate is required in Idaho anytime your name is on the deed to any real estate, homes, or land regardless of its value. So, if you truly want to avoid probate, then you must remove your own name from the legal deed on any land, real estate, or property and reduce the value of your estate so that it is below $100,000. The best way to do this is simply to spend this money on yourself.

The weakness of this plan is that it is impossible to really know how long you're going to live. As a result, if you don't spend your property and money down fast enough and if you do not remove your name from any deeds before you pass away then your family and loved ones cannot avoid a probate on your estate. On the other hand, if you spend your money and assets too fast then there may not be enough left over to take care of you during your later years. So, while spending all of estate on yourself is an option, we do not believe that it is the best option available to you.

2. Give Your Estate Away While You are Alive

Another possibility is that in addition to spending your estate on yourself you can also give it away while you are alive. If you give away property, money, and assets to another person while you are alive this is considered a gift. By giving gifts you no longer have an ownership interest in the items that you have given away. This is an effective way to pass property on to your family and loved ones while at the same time reducing your estate with the hope that you would be able to fall below the thresholds where a probate is required in Idaho.

However, as was listed above, this plan has a weakness to it similar to simply spending it on yourself. The weakness is you do not know how long you are going to live and what assets you may need to take care of yourself through the end of your life. So again, while this is an option, we do not believe it is the best option you can choose for yourself.

3. If You are a Surviving Spouse, use a Summary Administration

Now, if you are a surviving spouse, you do have a few more options than anybody else when it comes to probate. If your spouse recently passed away, you have the option of doing either a regular probate or what we call a Summary Administration. One of the purposes of doing a regular probate is to make sure that all creditors are taken care of so that assets that are transferred through probate can go to the spouse free and clear of most creditors' claims. However, we have found that most spouses are joint debtors on debt. Because of this, there is no need really to try to avoid or pay off creditors after a spouse passes away. As a result, spouses have the option of using a Summary Administration to transfer property and assets to themselves from the spouse who has died. This can be done very quickly and without the need of a regular probate.

For many spouses this is a great option on how to avoid probate and yet still pass title to property from their deceased spouse to themselves. We often use this as a mechanism to complete the transfer of assets without having to go through all of the steps of a full probate. If your spouse has recently passed away, a Summary Administration is definitely an option to consider.

However, if you are the surviving spouse, and you pass away, your family cannot make use of a Summary Administration. When this happens, we are back to the situation where your family has to determine whether your estate meets the threshold requirements for a probate which are listed above. If your estate does meet those requirements, then a probate will be required.

4. Use a Trust

The final option, and in my consideration perhaps the best option, for an individual to plan to avoid probate after they pass away is the use of a trust. Again, we are considering the threshold requirements of a probate. These are if your estate is worth of value of $100,000 or more, or if you are name is on the deed to any real property, homes, or lands. When this occurs, a probate must be completed in Idaho. To avoid these threshold requirements, many people while they are alive will make use of a trust. Essentially what they do is create a trust, and then they transfer ownership to the trust of any real property, and any assets that would push the value of their estate above the $100,000 limit.

In creating the trust, the individuals will likely name themselves as the first beneficiaries of the trust. This means that they still get the opportunity to enjoy the use of and the benefit of any of the property that is put into the trust while they are alive. Then, when they pass away, the trust can have instructions in it that would require the trustee to immediately distribute the property or money to surviving family members or loved ones. Doing this does not require any type of a probate.

In our opinion, if a person really wants to try to avoid a probate after they pass away, using a trust is the single best tool available. The reason for this is that it doesn't require any timing. I trust can be created at any time and assets can be transferred into the trust at any time. Additionally, because you would name yourself as a beneficiary you still have the enjoyment of the benefit and use of any property in the trust. As a result, you do not need to try to time when and how your property, money, and assets are used.

We have helped numerous clients create trusts in an effort to avoid probate. If you are thinking of using a trust as part of your estate planning, we are confident that we can help you too!

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to Help You

Our experienced Estate Planning team of attorneys can help you and your family with your Idaho estate plan or with your probate needs. Whether you are seeking your own customized Estate Plan or need a Probate for a loved one who has passed, we are available to discuss your options and answer your questions at an initial consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation with the Racine Olson team. You can also email us directly at We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Idaho Estate Planning and Probate problems.

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