Probate Basics: Summary Administration

by | May 12, 2021 | Business Planning, Formation and Management, Estate Planning, Insights, Media

If you are dealing with a simple estate and deciding whether a probate is necessary, a summary administration of the estate may be an option to avoid a lengthy probate.

Idaho law allows for a simple alternative to probate if you are the surviving spouse of the deceased and you are the sole beneficiary of the deceased’s estate called a “summary administration.” (I.C. § 15-3-1205)

What is a Summary Administration?

A summary administration is a process that allows the surviving spouse to file a verified petition showing the parties were married and the surviving spouse is the sole devisee or heir. If the decedent died with a will, the petition must be accompanied by the original draft of the last will and testament of the decedent.

After a hearing, the court enters a decree stating the surviving spouse is entitled to the decedent’s estate, which has the same effect and power as a formal order of a court ordering the distribution of assets through a probate.

If done correctly, the spouse or his/her attorney do not even need to be present for the hearing to obtain the decree.

  • Watch out! If the surviving spouse chooses to use this tool to avoid a probate, the surviving spouse shall assume and be liable for all indebtedness that might be a claim against the estate of the decedent.
  • That means that this is really only a good option if you are the surviving spouse and sole heir of your deceased spouse’s estate AND you and your spouse shared the same debt.
  • Otherwise, you may be accepting liability for debt that was solely your spouses and would have potentially been dealt with in a probate, allowing you to not have personal responsibility for repayment.

How is this different than a deed or account with right of survivorship?

This differs from a deed or account with “right of survivorship.”  If the property is in two or more persons’ names and is titled with “rights of survivorship”, whether joint tenancy or community property, the property will transfer without a probate or summary administration.

For more information about Rights of Survivorship and the other non-probate assets, please see our blog entitled “Probate Basics: Non-Probate and Probate Assets.”

Madsen Beck can help you decide if a summary administration is the right choice for you.  We can also assist you in your estate planning to ensure the best outcomes for you and your loved ones. Please contact us at (208) 321-6384 to schedule a consultation.

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