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Resolving Estate Property Issues in Idaho



Idaho Property and Estate Lawyers

For seven decades, the attorneys at the leading Idaho law firm of Racine Olson have helped clients of all types resolve their property matters. Often, this includes resolving uncertainty or disputes about real estate passed down through a family over time or that otherwise has an unclear ownership structure because of problems with wills, trusts, and estate matters.

Our team of top business, real estate, and trust and estate lawyers works together to assist our clients to meet their legal needs. We regularly meet with our clients to help them understand and analyze title ownership and trust, will, and estate issues for their property, and how past activity has affected the current ownership structure. Here are three specific things that you should know about clearing up estate property issues in Idaho.

Property Problems Due to Trust and Estates 

When a person dies with property that is to be passed down, Idaho law provides for how that process occurs. Usually, this is through a court procedure, like probate, or through a recognized non-court procedure, such as prior creation of a trust. However, things don’t always get resolved cleanly. Problems in estates and trusts especially arise with real property, since it needs to show a clean line of ownership, often called the chain of title. If there are mistakes in documentation, or if passing of property isn’t finalized or duly accomplished, there can be problems or questions about who owns what. 

Unfortunately, problems in the title to real estate don’t vanish. We have seen cases where these problems are hidden for years or even decades. They tend to come up when someone eventually wants to sell the property, use it as collateral for a loan, or assert property rights that conflict with the ideas of other extended family members about who has ownership.  

These issues can arise with any type of property, but are especially prevalent for cabins, vacation land, homes, ranches, and farms that are owned jointly by extended family members. If recognized and addressed quickly, they can often be taken care of easily, but if decades have passed since the problems occur, resolution can be much more complex. 

Resolving Trust and Estate Property Questions

The baseline resolution procedure, for disputes arising out of trusts and estates, is judicial. This means that someone asks a court to resolve the question – i.e., they file a lawsuit. Idaho courts have broad powers to rule on ownership of property arising out of trust and estate problems (I.C. 15-8-102). The Idaho Code sets forth the basic procedures for this type of litigation, which generally follows accepted litigation methods and follow the rules of civil procedure (I.C. 15-8-201 et seq). 

Sometimes litigation is the only way to resolve these types of issues, but there are other options. In particular, Idaho law specifies how trust and estate issues can be resolved outside of court if the different parties can all come to an agreement. The applicable Idaho law is the Trust and Estate Dispute Resolution Act, TEDRA, found at Idaho Code Section 15, Chapter 8. 

TEDRA Agreements

To accomplish a nonjudicial resolution under TEDRA, all of the “parties interested in the estate or trust” matter must enter into a written agreement, which must be signed by all parties. The document must identify the subject matter of the dispute, the parties involved, and may address other issues regarding legal procedure, like jurisdiction and governing law (I.C. 15-8-301 to 302), and it should specify what agreement has been reached. The document may be filed with and approved by a court, and if done so it is “deemed approved by the court and is equivalent to a final court order binding on all persons interested in the estate or trust.” Even if not filed with a court, the written agreement is binding and conclusive on the interested persons (I.C. 15-8-303).

In practice, the agreement is normally similar in format to a contract: it sets forth the parties, usually has substantial recitals reviewing the background, facts, history, and purposes for which the document is created, and then sets forth the agreement of the parties as respecting the assets and disputes involved. 

An agreement like this can help resolve a dispute, but it can also be used to get a title insurance policy when property is sold or may allow a lender to issue a loan for the property. When the agreement is primarily created for the benefit of a third party (like a title company or lender), the parties should carefully communicate ahead of time so that the specific requirements of the third party are met. Often, for example, a title company may have detailed needs to meet its obligations as an insurer, or a lender may have to ensure that its collateral meets certain parameters. Each situation will differ depending on the facts, circumstances, parties, and transaction details, so close attention to statutory and party-specific needs should be paid. 

Enlist an Idaho Property and Estate Attorney to Help You

Our team of Idaho lawyers can help you with any of your property and estate resolution needs. 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, 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 and property problems.

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