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Probate in Pocatello Idaho

Our Pocatello Probate attorneys have assisted and helped clients through the probate process for decades after a family member or a close friend has died. In helping clients we know the difficulties that can arise. We have worked with clients in taking care of the decedent’s debts and distributing their money and property. It is our goal to take care of the complexities and stresses and make the process as simple as possible for our clients. We are confident that we can help you too.

For over 70 years our Pocatello Probate Attorneys has advised and represented clients in completing the probate process in Idaho for those who have passes away. With our experience and knowledge we are confident that we can help regardless of whether you are dealing with a small or a large estate. Our team of Pocatello Probate Attorneys include partners Randy Budge and Lane Erickson, and attorneys Nathan Palmer and Dave Bagley.

Probate is the word that describes the legal method in Idaho of collecting, managing and ultimately distributing the property and money a person owns and the debts that they owe when they away. While there are different types of probate available depending upon the type of estate a persona leaves when they die, the 6 basic steps to the probate process in Idaho are:

1. File an Application or a Petition to Probate

The first step in the Pocatello Probate process is to file an Application or a Petition to probate. The Application/Petition is important because it names the person who passed away. Additionally, it identifies the name and relationship of the person who is seeking to be appointed as the Executor or Personal Representative. Further, the application/petition identifies who the heirs of the decedent are and includes their contact information. All of this is necessary for the Court to review so that the probate process can proceed.

Filing an application/petition to probate is required in Idaho whether or not the decedent had a written Last Will and Testament or not. If the decedent died without writing a will, the laws of Intestacy in Idaho provide a “default” will that specifically defines who can file the application/petition to probate, who can be appointed as the Executor or Personal Representative, and most importantly how the decedent’s money and possessions will be distributed. Once the application/petition is filed, the Court reviews the filing thoroughly and then moves on to step number 2.

2. Appointment of the Personal Representative

The second step in the Pocatello Probate process is for the Court to issue an order commencing the probate. The Order or Statement that is signed by the Court names and appoints a specific person as the Personal Representative of the estate. This Order or Statement is a Court document that is signed by the judge and has an official Court stamp.

In addition to signing and entering the Order or Statement during step 2 in the probate process, the Court also signs and issues several original Letters Testamentary. These are a one (1) page document containing an official court stamp that identifies who the Personal Representative is. This person uses the Letters Testamentary to evidence that they are authorized to administer the estate. This is important because without this proof, third parties, such as banks, brokerages and other financial institutions will now allow the Personal Representative to have access to the decedent’s accounts. Other business and institutions that may have property or information owned by the decedent such as hospitals, insurance companies, utility companies and so forth also rely on these Letters Testamentary.

3. Providing Notice to Creditors

After the Court issues the Order or Statement, and the Letters Testamentary, step 3 in the probate process can be completed. This step is providing notice to creditors. There really are only two kinds of creditors the decedent may have had that must be dealt with through the probate process. The first category includes creditors that are known. Known creditors usually include credit card companies, mortgage holders, utilities, hospitals and so forth that send out bills every month. The second category of possible creditors includes those that are unknown. Unknown creditors could be a personal loan that a family member, friend or other person made to the decedent before he died.

In completing the probate process in Pocatello, the personal representative provides a required notice to creditors. This Notice to Creditors lets creditors know of the death of the decedent and that a probate has begun for the decedent. For known creditors this is easy, because these creditors are known and payments are usually continue to be made even after the decedent’s death. However, unknown creditors are difficult to identify or contact. The Personal Representative accomplishes providing notice to unknown creditors by publishing a Notice to Creditors in a newspaper that circulates in the area where the decedent’s probate is taking place. This type of published notice is typically found in in the classified section of the paper with other such legal notices.

Idaho’s statute dealing with notifying creditors by publication specifically requires the notice to be published once a week for three weeks in a row. Once the Notice to Creditors is published, Idaho’s statutes provide creditors with 4 months from the first date of publication to file their claims with the estate. This also requires a copy to be filed with the Court. If an unknown creditor fails to file a claim in time their claim is cut off and need not be paid by the Personal Representative. This process of publishing notice and providing a specific time for claims to be made protects the estate from claims being made years down the road.

4. Creating an Inventory of the Estate

The fourth step in the Pocatello probate process occurs when the Personal Representative creates an inventory of all of the assets contained in the decedent’s estate. Essentially this means the Personal Representative creates a written list of all of the personal property, real property, bank accounts and so forth that were owned by the decedent when they died. To be clear, the inventory of the estate doesn’t require that every knife, fork and spoon be counted. This would be a waste of time and resources. Broader categories such as “household and person affects” and “real estate” and “vehicles” and so forth are used when creating the inventory. Values for each of these categories is then provided and filed with the Court.

5. Resolving Creditors’ Claims

The next step in the Pocatello probate process is to resolve any claims that have been made by a creditor. A personal representative is not automatically required to pay all of the claims that are made by a creditor. Remember, the personal representative’s job is to protect and preserve the decedent’s estate so that all legitimate bills are paid and then all distributions are made as directed by the decedent in his will or by the laws of intestacy. A personal representative can and should challenge the claim of a creditor when a creditor fails to provide adequate evidence that a debt is owed by the decedent.

Resolving any claims made by a creditor is important because it protects the decedent’ estate and ensures that the heirs of an estate are not swindled or taken advantage of. A personal representative can deny a creditor’s claim. When this happens the creditor is required to pursue his claim in court and produce evidence supporting the claim. This allows a judge to review the creditor’s claim, the evidence supporting or lacking support for the claim and to ultimately determine whether the claim is valid and should be paid. The judge will then decide whether the claim is valid and needs to be paid by the estate.

6. Distributing Property and Closing the Probate

The final step on the probate process in Pocatello is making distributions to the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate and then closing the probate. Again the Personal Representative is required to make distributions of money and property either under the direction of the decedent’s written Last Will and Testament, or through the Intestate statutes. This is completed by either actually physically delivering possession of tangible personal property to a person, or issuing a check from the estate for a certain amount of money, or signing or issuing deeds to real property, vehicles or other titled property.

Once all of the assets in the decedent’s estate are distributed the Personal Representative then has the option of providing a report to the court and petitioning the court to close the probate. Completing this last step provides statutory protection for the Personal Representative because it eliminates the ability of a claim to be made against the estate or the Personal Representative more than 6 months after the probate is closed.

Enlist a Pocatello Estate Planning Attorney to Help You

If you have a family member or close friend who recently passed away in the Pocatello area and you have questions about the probate process 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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