Justin Jeppesen: When is Probate Required, When is it Not?

After the dust begins to settle when a person passes away, the dreaded thought that now you must go through Probate for their estate seeps into your thoughts. Often times you are correct to think this, but multiple times a week I talk with people that aren’t required to Probate a deceased person’s estate. So, when is Probate required?

In the state of Idaho, Probate will be required to administer a deceased person’s estate if he or she meets one of the following two factors, or both: 1) $100,000.00 or more of personal assets; and/or 2) any interest in real property (ie personal residence, condo, undeveloped land, oil interests, etc.).

If you have a house, even if there is a mortgage on it, you will go through Probate. If you have a large collection of jewelry, tools, or guns chances are you will go through Probate. If you have a life insurance policy, retirement account, CD, investment account, or checking and savings account that does not have a beneficiary designation on it, you are probably going through Probate.

Is Probate required for you? That depends on whether or not you meet one of the two Probate triggering factors. The real property factor is easier to understand than the $100,000.00 personal asset factor. Either you own a home, or land, or don’t.

If you don’t meet either factor, Probate is not required for you. Yay! Having stated when Probate is required, please understand that a skilled, competent, and experienced estate planning attorney can explain to you the ways to avoid Probate, even if you meet the requirements under the law.

Ultimately, if a person owns property worth more than $100,000.00, or if he or she owns any real estate, the most effective means of avoiding Probate is through the use of a Living Trust.  A Trust, properly prepared and funded with the assistance of a lawyer, it is the best way to avoid probate.