Probate for Small ID Estates

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Courthouse for estate probate

In Idaho, small estates can avoid probate completely via small estate affidavit, or simplify it via summary administration.

Small Estate Affidavit

If an Idaho estate has a gross value <$100,000, you can use the small estate process to settle the estate with no court involvement.

Requirements

To use the small estate process, the following conditions must be true:

  • All estate assets have a combined fair market value <$100K
  • At least 30 days have passed since the death
  • No petition has already been made to the court to officially appoint a personal representative

In determining the value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and ignore any unsecured debts (but do subtract things like liens and mortgages). Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

To use the small estate process:

  1. Prepare a Small Estate Affidavit (see below)
  2. Obtain possession of estate assets by presenting the affidavit to current custodians (this affidavit cannot be used to collect real estate)
  3. Settle the estate in the normal way (pay debts, distribute remaining assets)
  4. If you are transferring a vehicle, submit Form ITD-3413 to the DMV
  5. If everything goes smoothly, no court involvement will ever be required

Affidavit

You can use this ID Small Estate Affidavit Form provided by the OpenDocs project, or create your own.

The small estate affidavit must include:

  • The name of the decedent, address, and date of death
  • Statements that each of the above requirements are true (list each one)
  • A statement that the claiming successor is entitled to payment or delivery of the property

It's helpful to attach a copy of the death certificate and the will (if one exists).

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any ID Family Entitlements, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so you should arrange to have all debts resolved before distributing assets. Unpaid estate creditors have the right to sue heirs for the value of any distributions received using the approaches described on this page.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.

See ID Code § 15-3-1201.

Summary Administration

Summary Administration (also known as simplified probate) can be used if you want court involvement so that enforcement and protection are a bit more formalized.

Requirements

You can use summary administration if the estate is worth less than the sum of:

  1. The value of any homestead allowance and exempt property
  2. Estate administration expenses
  3. Reasonable funeral expenses
  4. Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last illness

In determining the value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and subtract any secured debts such as liens or mortgages (but ignore unsecured debt such as credit card debt). Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

To settle an estate via summary administration:

  1. Submit an Application for Informal Probate to the court (see ID Code § 15-3-301)
  2. Upon approval, the court will issue you Letters of Administration
  3. At the same time, or later when you are ready, request a summary administration from the court, showing that the requirements have been met
  4. Use your "Letters" to collect estate assets, then distribute them according to the requirements list in priority order
  5. Prepare a Final Accounting of the estate (consider using the EstateExec Accounting Report)
  6. Prepare and send a copy of a Closing Statement to all unpaid creditors and to all distributees, including the Final Accounting for any distributee whose interest was affected
  7. Submit the Closing Statement to the court
  8. If no actions or proceedings involving the personal representative are pending in the court one year after the closing statement is filed, the appointment of the personal representative terminates.

Closing Statement

A Closing Statement must state:

  • To the best of your knowledge the estate met the requirements for summary administration (list the requirements from above)
  • You fully administered the estate by disbursing and distributing it to the persons entitled thereto
  • You sent a copy of the closing statement to all unpaid creditors and other claimants of whom you are aware, and to all distributees (attaching a final estate accounting report to the distributees whose interests were affected)

See ID Code § 15-3-1203.

Summary Administration for Surviving Spouse as Sole Beneficiary

Regardless of the size of the estate, if a surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary, he or she can file for a special form of summary probate administration that saves considerable time and effort.

To use the this process:

  1. Petition the court for a summary information, stating the death of the decedent, fact of the marriage, and the reason the spouse is the sole beneficiary of the estate (attach a copy of the death certificate, and if there is a will, attach the original will)
  2. Upon approval, the court will issue you a distribution decree
  3. Obtain possession of estate assets by presenting the decree to current asset custodians
  4. Pay any estate debts (it may be helpful to formally notify any creditors)

See ID Code § 15-3-1205.

Court

In Idaho, the Magistrate Division of the local County Court or District Court handles wills and estate probate.

See also General Probate.

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