Idaho offers some probate shortcuts for "small estates." These procedures make it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using simplified probate procedures or without any probate court proceedings at all -- by using an affidavit. And that saves time, money, and hassle.
Here are the ways you can skip or speed up probate. (If the affidavit procedure is used, there's no need to use the simplified probate procedure.)
Idaho has a procedure that allows inheritors to skip probate altogether when 1) there is no real property that needs to be probated, and 2) the value of all personal property left behind is less than a certain amount. All an inheritor has to do is prepare a short document, stating that he or she is entitled to a certain asset. This document, signed under oath, is called an affidavit. When the person or institution holding the property -- for example, a bank where the deceased person had an account -- gets the affidavit and a copy of the death certificate, it releases the asset.
The out-of-court affidavit procedure is available in Idaho if the fair market value of all personal property subject to probate, wherever located, less liens and encumbrances, is $100,000 or less. This option is not available for estates that include real property (like a home or land), unless that real property avoids probate through a living trust or right of survivorship (like joint tenancy). When the affidavit process is used, there is a 30-day waiting period. Idaho Code § § 15-3-1201 and following.
Idaho has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.
You can use the simplified small estate process in Idaho if:
1. The value of all property the deceased person owned, less liens and encumbrances, doesn't exceed the homestead allowance, exempt property, family allowance, costs of administration, funeral expenses, and medical expenses of the last illness. Idaho Code § § 15-3-1203 and following.
2. A surviving spouse who inherits everything can file a petition with the court, which will issue a decree to that effect. Idaho Code § 15-3-1205.
For help determining if an estate qualifies for one of these probate shortcuts, or handling an estate in general, see The Executor's Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo), or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).