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Idaho Estate Planning What is an Inventory in a Probate

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

Being a personal representative is not an easy job. In a probate, the personal representative has a lot of different things they are required to complete. In addition to providing notice to all of those entitled to receive it, the personal representative is also required to give additional information to the Court and to certain individuals, including heirs of the estate. This additional information includes an inventory of the estate.

The need to do an inventory is not dependent on whether there was a written last will and testament or not. Even when a person dies without a will, which means they die intestate, an inventory is still required to be done.

At the Racine law office, we have a team of premier Idaho probate attorneys who work with each client and their family. Our job begins by helping each client create their own customized estate plan. We also help our clients who have had a family member of loved one pass away complete the probate process when needed. Our team of Idaho probate lawyers includes partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. Each of our attorneys have earned the highest rankings possible on several legal rating services for their knowledge, skill and experience in helping individuals and families through the probate process. These services include AVVO, Martindale and Hubbell, and Justia, and are based on the reviews given by other attorneys, judges, and most importantly our current clients.

For many clients and families who have never dealt with the probate process completing a probate is an intimidating prospect. Our job is to make this process simple to understand and easy to complete. Part of the probate process in Idaho includes an inventory. The purpose of this article is to describe what the inventory is, how to do an inventory of the estate, and why it is important or necessary to complete an inventory.

Keep in mind that this article is not exhaustive but is really just a starting place for you to be able to understand the importance of completing an inventory in the probate process. If you have additional questions, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a free 30-minute consultation where we can explain the probate process in detail and why an inventory is important.

What It is

To begin with it’s important to understand what an inventory of the estate actually is. In its simplest form, it is a description of the money, property, and assets that belong to the estate. However, it’s actually much more than that. When an inventory is properly completed, it also describes the debts and obligations that are owed by the person who passed away.

In Idaho, a person’s estate, whether they are alive, or they have passed away, includes everything they own and it also includes everything they owe. If we were to draw a picture of this, it would be a circle and inside that circle we would include items that are owned such as homes, cars, bank accounts, personal property, and items of significant value such as coin collections, guns, tools, jewelry, and so forth. We would also include all the debts that are owed such as mortgages, credit cards, student loans, utilities, and any other kind of bill.

For purposes of probate, typically the debts that are owed are often associated with a specific item or asset. Take a home for example. Most people who are living in a home are buying it through a mortgage that they are paying on a monthly basis. As time goes on, the mortgage gets smaller and smaller because more and more payments have been made. As a result, if we were to list a home as an asset in the inventory of an estate, we would likely first subtract the amount of the remaining mortgage that is owed on the home. We would then be left with a value of the equity in the home owned by the person that we would list on the inventory.

How to do an Inventory

When it comes to completing a probate, I often meet with a personal representative to talk about how they do an inventory of the estate. I do this because I find that most personal representatives are overwhelmed by the thought of completing an inventory of the estate. I try to assure them that it’s much simpler than it sounds.

Typically, there are five categories that we include in an inventory of the estate. These categories include: (1) real estate, (2) bank accounts, (3) vehicles, (4) household furnishings and personal effects, and (5) items of significant value.

Most of these items are easy to categorize and to determine the value for. However, item 4, which is household furnishings and personal effects is usually the one that trips people up. Really what we’re talking about here is usually the items that are inside the home such as furniture, decorations, clothing, appliances, and so forth. To make things simple, what I usually suggest to my clients is that they go through each room of the house room by room and simply judge the garage sale values of the items that are listed in the room. This would not include any items of significant value, which are in category 5 and which are itemized out because those items would not be sold at a garage sale.

Why It is Necessary

So, why exactly is it necessary to complete an inventory? The reason can be found in the statutes dealing with probate administrations. Specifically, the statutes include Idaho Code § 15-3-706, 707, and 708. In these code sections it indicates that the personal representative is required to provide the inventory to any party who requests it, and that the personal representative can file the inventory with the court.

Normally, the people who request a copy of the inventory are those individuals who are listed as the heirs in a Will, or who would be the statutory heirs in an intestate probate. These individuals want to understand exactly what is being included in the estate which helps them understand what they will likely receive as an inheritance from the estate once the probate is completed.

If you have additional questions about what the personal representative’s inventory is, we can help. We offer a free 30-minute consultation to discuss the probate process, including the to help our clients move forward with any probate needs they have. We have helped numerous clients through this process, and we are confident that we can 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 free consultation. You can also email us directly at lane@racineolson.com 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.

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