What is Probate? Probate is a court-supervised process of approving your Will after your death, removing your name from titles, making sure all the debts are paid and determining who is to inherit your remaining assets. Legal heirs or other persons have the opportunity to voice any objections. Probate is a public process allowing anyone to read your Will and learn about your estate. The probate process, not your family, determines how much it will cost, how long it will take.
Because probate is in the local court system, there are court costs and attorneys’ fees to be paid. In Idaho, for a single person, it often takes a minimum of 12 months to go through a probate process and often longer.

Minor Children: If you leave assets to a minor child or grandchild in your Will, the Court will set up a conservatorship to “protect” the child’s assets until that minor reaches the age 18. Including a Trust in your Will allows you to decide who will handle the minor’s inheritance, but the Will still must go through probate before the Trust can go into effect.

Non-Probate Transfers: Some assets do not go through probate. If an asset has a beneficiary designation, such as life insurance, annuities and retirement benefits, that asset will be distributed directly to the named beneficiary without the need of a court order. A “Paid on Death (POD)” bank account will also be transferred to the named person after the account owner dies with no court involvement. A potential problem with these transfers may be that a young child ends up with the asset and you don’t know who will manage it for them.

Should you establish an estate plan that avoids probate? Talking to a qualified estate-planning attorney is the best way to learn what is best for you. At Senior Edge Legal we specialize in helping you create a plan that fits your unique needs and avoid costly mistakes. Call and make an appointment with Susan M. Graham, a Certified Elder Law attorney who can look at your overall estate picture to decide what makes the most sense in your case.