Settling Small Estates (ID)

Updated Apr 5, 2024
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In Idaho, small estates can avoid probate completely via small estate affidavit, or simplify it via summary administration. Regardless of estate size, probate is not required if an estate contains only assets exempt from probate.

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.


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 right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.


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


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).

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.


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 right of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.


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 this process:

  1. Petition the court for a summary administration, 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.

Estate Settlement Considerations

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

Even if the estate does not go through probate, you may still be entitled to Executor Compensation in ID, and this compensation also has priority over most estate debts.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so before distributing assets you should resolve any estate debts. If the estate makes any distributions beyond amounts set aside for family entitlements, unpaid creditors have the right to sue the recipients for repayment using those excess distributions. Consequently, even if the settlement process does not require you to publish a Notice to Creditors, you may want to follow ID probate rules for finding estate debts, since doing so may limit the time creditors have to pursue repayment.

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.


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

Additional Information

If your estate doesn't qualify for a small estate approach, or you're simply interested in exploring standard probate, take a look at Probate in ID.

And since probate is just the court-supervised subset of winding up a person's affairs after death, you'll probably want to check out our Complete Guide to Estate Settlement in ID.

Finally, in case you're interested, details about handling small estates in other states can be found here:

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