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Probate in Idaho

Our Idaho Probate attorneys have decades of experience helping clients after a family member or a close friend passes away. We understand how difficult it can be when someone close passes away. Having to deal with the person’s debts and property can sometimes be complex and stressful. It is our goal to make the process as simple as possible. Probate is the step by step legal method of collecting and managing the assets of a person who has passed away as well as paying their debts and taxes, and making sure their property is distributed to others the way the decedent instructed.

Our team of lawyers in Idaho have experience in advising and representing many clients through the probate process in Idaho. Regardless of whether the decedent had a large or small estate, we can help. Our team of Idaho Attorneys include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley. There are 6 basic steps to the probate process in Idaho. These steps are:

1. Petition for Probate

The first step in the Probate process is filing the Petition. This is true regardless of whether there is a written Last Will and Testament or not. If there is no written will, the law in Idaho is that the decedent died intestate and the statutes will define who can file the probate and how the decedent’s property will be distributed. The petition identifies the person who passed away, identifies the person who is seeking the appointment as the Personal Representative, and provides additional information concerning the heirs and the decedent’s estate for the Court to review. Once the Petition is filed, the Court reviews it and then moves on to step number 2.

2. Obtaining the Appointment of a Personal Representative

The next step occurs when all the statutory requirements are met. When this happens, the Court then issues an order appointing the person as the Personal Representative of the estate. The appointment of the Personal Representative is an order or an official document of the Court signed by the judge that identifies who the decedent is and also identifies the Personal Representative. In addition to the appointment, the court also usually issues what are known as Letters Testamentary which are documents that have an official court stamp on them that a Personal Representative can use in administering the estate with third parties. The letters testamentary act as proof of the appointment of the Personal Representative so that business and institutions that have property or information owned by the decedent such as hospitals, banks, insurance companies and so forth know they are dealing with the right person.

3. Notifying Creditors

Once the Personal Representative is appointed they move on to the step three, which is to notify creditors. There are two kinds of creditors of the decedent that may exist: (a) those that are known; and (b) those that are unknown. Examples of known creditors are credit card companies that send out bills every month. Additionally, there may be a mortgage on the decedent’s home that requires monthly house payments. Unknown creditors may include a personal loan that a family member, friend or other person made to the decedent before he died.

To properly complete the probate process, a personal representative is required to notify creditors of both the death of the decedent and the fact that a probate has begun. For known creditors this is easy, because the creditors are known. However, for unknown creditors this is more difficult. Idaho has created a way for the Personal Representative to notify unknown creditors. This is accomplished by publishing a Notice to Creditors in the local newspaper. Most people would recognize this as the legal notices in the classified sections.

Idaho has a specific statute dealing with notifying creditors by publication. The statutes require the notice to be published once a week for three consecutive weeks. An example of this is that the notice is published on Tuesday, for three weeks in a row. Once the notice is published, the creditors have 4 months from the date of the first publication to file their claims with the estate, and court, or be forever cut off from making any claims. This provides for an orderly administration of both known and unknown creditors claims.

4. Inventorying the Estate

Once creditors have been notified the fourth step in the process is to inventory the assets of the estate. What this simply means is to create a list of property that was owned by the person on the day that they died. The Personal Representative isn’t required to list every knife, fork and spoon. Rather, the Personal Representative can create broader categories such as “household and person affects” and “real estate” and “vehicles” and so forth. Once these categories are completed a value of the items in those categories must be listed. This inventory is often filed with the court so that a record of the assets are contained in the probate records.

5. Paying or Litigating the Claims of Creditors

By having a list of the assets and property the decedent owned when they died the Personal Representative is prepared to move on with the next step which is to pay creditors claims. This is really an oversimplification of the process because a personal representative can in fact challenge the claim of a creditor which could force litigation requiring the creditor to prove and or provide evidence of the debt they claim is owed by the decedent.

Processing creditors’ claims is vitally important because it protects the heirs of an estate from being defrauded. If the personal representative does not feel that a particular creditor’s claim is valid the claim can be denied and the creditor is forced to produce evidence supporting the claim in front of the court allowing a judge to evaluate the claim and determine its validity. The judge will then decide whether the claim is valid and needs to be paid by the estate.

6. Distributing Assets to Heirs and Closing the Estate

Once creditors’ claims are resolved, the sixth and final step is for the Personal Representative to distribute the assets to the heirs. This is done either under the direction of the decedent’s written Last Will and Testament, or through the Intestate statutes when a decedent does not have a valid written will. After the assets have been distributed the Personal Representative then has the option of providing provides a report to the court and petitioning the court to close the probate. Doing this last step provides some protection for the Personal Representative.

Enlist an Idaho Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

If you have a family member or close friend who recently passed away and you have questions about the probate process in Idaho we can help. We are available to answer your questions and discuss your concerns at an initial free consultation. Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with the Racine Olson team of Probate attorneys in Idaho. You can also email us directly at racine@racinelaw.net. We will answer your Idaho Probate and/or Estate Planning questions and will help you solve your problems.

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