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Questions And Answers About Probate: Part 1

Probate refers to a procedure that involves the title transfer of a deceased individual’s property to their surviving heirs. 

Suppose the deceased did not have a Will or the Will was invalid. In that case, the laws of intestate succession apply.  Generally, this means the decedent’s estate and property will be transferred to the surviving spouse or relatives. Should the deceased have a valid Will, then the Will is probated and the decedent’s estate distributed per the individual’s wishes as directed in the Will. The decedent’s valid debts and expenses are also usually paid via the probate process.  

There can be misconceptions surrounding the expense or the benefits of avoiding probate. 

It is not always beneficial to set up a life estate, living trusts, or other techniques to avoid probate, which can be more costly than probate and oftentimes unnecessary.  Deeding property over to children can create unforeseen problems such as the risk of property loss during their lifetime or the deed being declared invalid upon their death.   The spouse often fails to probate the estate and then decide to sell property only to find out they cannot do so until the title is placed in their name only.  Having an informed ESTATE LAW ATTORNEY can help you access the appropriate path for the spouse or other surviving family members to take.

Avoiding paying tax can be seen as a reason some try to forgo probate. 

However, not all property probated is subject to estate tax.  The majority of estates today are distributed free of any inheritance tax, yet they still must be probated. 

For instance, in Idaho, an estate worth less than $11,580,000 is exempt from the federal estate tax, and there is no Idaho estate tax, thereby allowing the heirs to inherit the property free of tax.  Inherited assets are not considered ordinary income by the IRS; therefore, you will not pay income tax on these assets.  One exception is retirement accounts; these are subject to income tax once assets are withdrawn. 

Because estate and tax laws can frequently be revised, you should always consult an experienced ESTATE LAW ATTORNEY to ensure you and your heirs are protected.

Expensive court procedures can often be avoided for most estates. 

Idaho law allows for a more flexible process to promote a speedy and efficient system for liquidating and distributing the decedent estate.  The court’s involvement may not even be needed in every stage of probate.  We will discuss this more in Part II of our probate blog.

Please visit our detail page here at DeanLaw.Law to learn more about Probate, Trust or Estate Administration. Should you wish to obtain professional assistance from legal specialists in this area of Idaho Law, we welcome you to call us or visit our online form to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

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