Prepared by the Court Assistance Office,
a project of the Idaho Supreme Court
What is Probate?
Probate is the court process to
transfer titles of property of a decedent, a
person who has died, to his or her
successors and pays any creditors.
Is probate always necessary?
Probate is not always required for
every estate. A small estate with no real
property may not need to go through
probate. This is explained later in the
“affidavit” method. There are ways to
avoid probate. An attorney can describe
these to you.
What if the decedent had a will?
Probate will be necessary to declare
the will to be valid and to appoint the
personal representative under the will. The
personal representative, then, can carry out
the terms of the will.
What if the decedent did not have a will?
If the decedent had no will
(intestate) then probate may be required to
make a determination of heirs and to
appoint a personal administrator to handle
the estate. This process would determine
the proper heirs according to the law of
Is there more than way to handle an
There are four methods for
handling the disposition of an estate. The
first method is by an affidavit. This is only
for certain small estates and does not
involve the court. The other three are court
proceedings. The first is called Informal
Probate, the second is Formal Probate and
the third is Summary Administration of
Estate where Surviving Spouse is Sole
Here are some basic descriptions of
the four methods that may assist you in
determining what method is appropriate
for your situation:
1. The first method does not
involve a court process. It is referred to
here as the “affidavit” method. An
affidavit may be used if the decedent did
not own real estate and had personal
property with a net value of less than
$100,000. This affidavit allows a
successor of the decedent to collect any
property, money or other items owed to the
decedent. The successor would complete
the affidavit, which may be obtained at the
Court Assistance Office, and sign it in front
of a notary.
2. The second method is called
Informal Probate. This is a court process