Probate is the legal process that is usually required when a person dies. It is intended to make certain that the things which the deceased person owned end up going to the person chosen by that person.

Broadly speaking, probate normally consists of four steps.

First, if there is a Will, the person named as the Executor in the Will submits a request to the probate court for a determination that the Will is the last Will which was made by the deceased. If there is no Will, then usually a surviving spouse or child will submit a request for the court for a determination that there was no Will. In either case, the court’s decision will determine who will serve as the Executor (the person responsible to make sure that the rules are followed, the bills paid, and the assets distributed to the rightful heirs).

Second, the Executor then looks for and then gathers up all of the property which the decedent owned when he or she passed away.

Third, any debts that were owed by the deceased person are determined and paid. However, there is also a possibility of cancelling some or all of those debts in the event that any creditor fails to present their claims within a narrow time frame.

Finally, the remaining assets are then distributed to the heirs in accordance with the Will (or in the manner dictated by Idaho law in the event there was no Will). With respect to the distribution, the Executor usually has some flexibility to determine whether (1) to liquidate assets and distribute cash or (2) to distribute different assets to different heirs.

Daniel Patchin

Benjamin Monaghan