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Probate is the judicial process in which a Court oversees the distribution of person’s assets after they die. In Idaho, probate can proceed “informally” if the original signed Will is available or if the decedent did not have a Will and the Estate is uncontested, or “formally” if the original Will is missing or the Estate is contested. As the names suggest, informal probate involves the least amount of judicial supervision and does not involve appearing before the Court whereas formal probate includes direct involvement by the Court and attendance at Court hearings.
Although it is possible to initiate a probate proceeding without using an attorney, known as proceeding “pro se”, the highly technical nature of the probate process is best navigated with the assistance of an experienced attorney. The probate process can take anywhere from six months to more than a year to complete depending on the size of the Estate and whether the Estate is contested.
Informal probate is the most common type of probate proceeding. Typically, there are seven steps in Idaho's informal probate process: