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Pocatello Estate Planning Why Probate is Necessary

By Lane V. Erickson, Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney

Sometimes when I talk to my clients about probate it’s almost like I’m using a swear word. Most people don’t like to hear the word probate and I’ve found the main reason for this is because they don’t understand what the probate process is or how it can benefit them and their family when a loved one passes away. I’ve also found that there is a great deal of misunderstanding with people about how much a probate costs or how long it takes for a probate to be completed. When I dig a little deeper I find that these misunderstandings usually arise based on stories my clients have heard from family and friends some of whom live outside of the state of Idaho.

Before we talk about the reasons for probate let’s first talk about why probate isn’t that bad in Idaho. The first reason probate isn’t that bad in Idaho is because it’s very inexpensive compared to other states. In many other states the cost of a probate is usually a percentage of the estate itself. The normal amount is 6% for an estate that’s worth $100,000 up to $1,000,000. If the estate is larger than a million dollars an additional percentage is tacked on for the amount above that sum. As a result, many people who are faced with doing a probate are also faced with a huge expense associated with the probate itself.

In Idaho this is not the case. The filing fee for a probate in court is below $200. There will also be a publishing fee which is usually in the range of somewhere between $250 to $400. There may also be some recording fees and some other miscellaneous costs that may add up to another $100 to $200. Then there is the attorney fee for assisting in doing a probate. After everything is put together, the cost of doing a probate in Idaho, including the attorney fee usually is normally somewhere between about $2,000 to about $4,000. This is true even if the estate is worth a million dollars or more. Usually, the only time a probate in Idaho costs more than this range is if there is a family fight or if there is a dispute with creditors.

The second reason to probate isn’t that bad in Idaho is that it’s actually fairly quick. Idaho statutes require a probate to remain open for 6 months once it has begun. After that, all distributions can be made, all creditors can be paid, and the estate can close. To be sure, there are times when a probate needs to remain open longer than this, but that’s at the discretion of the people who are involved in the probate.

The final reason a probate isn’t that bad in Idaho is because it usually can be done informally. This simply means that there are no formal Court proceedings required such as hearings, meetings, or other litigation type events that are normal whenever a Court is involved in a legal process. Rather, through an informal probate, the Personal Representative makes periodic reports to the Court and then simply closes the estate once everything is done. Unless there is a dispute, or some other type of problem, the Court never actually becomes directly involved in the probate itself other than to begin it and to name the personal representative.

This now brings us to the three main reasons that probate is necessary in Idaho. These three reasons are listed below and we believe you will find them informative in understanding the probate process in Idaho.

Reason for Probate #1 - So a Personal Representative can be Appointed

The first main reason for a probate being completed in Idaho is so that a Personal Representative can be appointed. A Personal Representative, sometimes known as an executor, is the person who is authorized by the court to take possession and control of all the property of the person who passed away. The reason for this is so that the property can be preserved and protected. Additionally, a Personal Representative has legal authority to talk with creditors, deal with financial institutions, and take care of all other business that is required during the probate process.

The Personal Representative is charged with the task of locating all heirs and beneficiaries who are entitled to receive money, property, or assets from the estate. The Personal Representative is also required to complete all other steps set forth in Idaho’s probate statutes in order for the probate to be properly completed.

Reason for Probate #2 - So Creditors can be Paid and Debts can be Resolved

The second main reason for a probate in Idaho is so that creditors can be paid. The Personal Representative has the obligation of notifying all known creditors that the decedent has passed away. Additionally, the Personal Representative can follow the statutory guidelines and publish notice in a newspaper which acts as notification to all unknown creditors. These unknown creditors that have a certain. Of time in which to make a claim with the estate in order for there play to be considered.

Through the probate process, the Personal Representative makes decisions about whether a creditor’s claim is valid or not. If a Personal Representative believes a creditor’s claim is not valid it will be disallowed. The creditor then has the ability to challenge that disallowance and to go through a court proceeding where the judge will actually make a decision about whether the debt is valid and allowable.

The biggest benefit to the heirs of an estate are that through probate all creditors are taken care of. This simply means that several years down the road creditors cannot knock on the doors of the spouse or other beneficiaries of the decedent and man to be paid for the debt they claim exist. Rather, through the probate process most deaths are fully and completely resolved which gives the family members and loved ones of the decedent peace of mind and knowing that they can move forward without fear of an unexpected debt landing in their laps at a later time.

Reason for Probate #3 - So Property can be Transferred

The final reason for a probate is so that there is some individual who has legal authority to transfer property away from the decedent to other people. A probate is required in Idaho anytime a person dies when the value of their estate is worth $100,000 or more regardless of what’s in it. Additionally, a probate in Idaho is required anytime a person dies when their name is on the deed or title to any type of real estate regardless of whether it is a home, bare ground, farm ground, or some other type of real property. The reason for this is that while the person is alive, they are free to sign a deed and title transferring ownership of the real estate to some other person. However, when they die, there is no person who has legal authority to sign a deed for the person who died.

Through the probate process, when the Personal Representative is appointed, they are given legal authority to sign deeds transferring away any type of property or title or interest owned by the decedent to the heirs and beneficiaries who are entitled to receive that property.

As you can see, the probate process in Idaho really isn’t that bad after all. The premier attorneys on the Racine Law Office Pocatello estate planning and probate team have assisted clients in completing probates for over 70 years in Pocatello and throughout the state of Idaho. Our team consists of partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson and attorneys Nate Palmer and Dave Bagley. We have helped numerous clients as well as their family and loved ones through the probate process and we are confident that we can help you too.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

Our team of Pocatello 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 consultation. Call us toll free at 877.232.6101 or 208.232.6101 for a consultation. You can also email us directly at or stop by our office at 201 East Center Street, Pocatello, Idaho 83201. We will answer your questions and help you solve your Pocatello Estate Planning problems.

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