What is Probate? – Utah Probate Lawyer Explains
If someone close to you has recently died, the distribution of their estate may be a part of settling their affairs. We call the person who died a decedent. Depending on the situation, it may be necessary to probate the estate. Unless you are a lawyer or court official yourself, it is likely that the Utah probate system is unfamiliar to you.
This can seem confusing, but understanding a little bit about what probate is and when it is necessary can help you determine whether or not this is a necessary legal process for your personal situation.
What is Probate?
In simple terms, probate is the legal process of proving a will’s validity in court. If the decedent did not leave a will then the probate appoints someone to sign the decedent’s name and administer what the decedent left behind pursuant to the Utah Probate Code. This is important step when determining how the deceased’s assets will be distributed. It grants the personal representative (also called an executor), or person enacting and enforcing the will, legal permission to carry out the will as specified. Probate may also include appraising assets and paying debts and taxes.
However, probate isn’t always necessary. Whether probate is necessary or not depend on the condition of the estate left behind. For example, property left in a valid trust does not need to be probated – it is administered outside of probate. In Utah, there are many ways to avoid having to go through the probate process. Discussing your options with a lawyer is the best way to know whether or not probate is necessary for you.
How does Probate Work?
First and foremost, there are two kinds of probate court processes in Utah, formal and informal.
An informal probate process is used when the beneficiaries of the will are generally in agreement, and don’t require a judge to settle disputes. This process is also significantly less expensive than the other. If all of the parties to the probate case in in agreement, we call that an uncontested probate case and it flows smoother than a contested case, or one where everyone fights about different things.
A formal probate process is for when the beneficiaries are unable to agree and therefore require a formal court setting in order to settle disputes. In a formal probate, there are more steps, several court hearings in front a judge happen and it can be cumbersome and expensive.
If you’re not sure whether you have a contested probate case or an uncontested one, you should speak with a probate attorney to discuss how to proceed.
How to Start a Probate Case in Utah
After deciding which process to use, the probate is opened and started by the Personal Representative (or Petitioner) by preparing and filing an application or petition for probate and appointment of personal representative in the district court. Your attorney will draft this petition.
In order to properly draft this petition, lawyers need to have some vital information.
First, attorneys need to know the names, addresses and telephone numbers of each person named in the will and all children and surviving spouses as well. If there is no will, the attorney still needs all of the contact information for surviving family members. Second, the lawyer will need a copy of the death certificate. The attorney will also need a copy of the last will and testament if there is one. The attorneys typically no longer need to keep the original will. In our office, we will scan the original, examine it, and return it to the person who provided it. Utah courts no longer require the original will to be filed with the courts because the courts are all on a digital system. Once the property attorney has this information, the petition is drafted and filed with the court. The This stage in the process ends when a personal representative is appointed and the court accepts the will (if there is one) as valid and a court order authorizing the probate of the estate is signed and letters testamentary or letters of administration are issued.
The second portion of the court proceedings determines whether the probate will be administered without formal decision from the court (informal) or if a court needs to settle disputes over distribution in hearings (formal). This is complete when all debts and creditors have been paid, and all inheritances have been calculated for the respective heirs.
Finally, the probate must be closed informally with a closing statement or formally with a petition to the court. The proceedings are finished when the Personal Representative is released from their position and no appeals are waiting to be heard.
So What Do I Do Now?
Probate can be a long, expensive, and confusing process, but it can often be avoided, especially if an estate plan has been created. Nevertheless, probate may be the most important step for you to take in settling the affairs of your loved ones.
For more information about probate proceedings and what your options are, set up a free consultation with one of our lawyers today. Call (801) 676-5506 to learn more about the next best step for you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
Ascent Law LLC St. George Utah Office
Ascent Law LLC Ogden Utah Office
West Jordan, Utah
West Jordan, Utah
|Named for||Jordan River|
|• Mayor||Dirk Burton |
|• Total||32.33 sq mi (83.73 km2)|
|• Land||32.33 sq mi (83.73 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2)|
||4,373 ft (1,333 m)|
|• Density||3,617.72/sq mi (1,396.88/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−7 (Mountain (MST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−6 (MDT)|
84081, 84084, 84088
|Area code(s)||385, 801|
|GNIS feature ID||1434086|
West Jordan is a city in Salt Lake County, Utah, United States. It is a suburb of Salt Lake City and has a mixed economy. According to the 2020 Census, the city had a population of 116,961, placing it as the third most populous in the state. The city occupies the southwest end of the Salt Lake Valley at an elevation of 4,330 feet (1,320 m). Named after the nearby Jordan River, the limits of the city begin on the river’s western bank and end in the eastern foothills of the Oquirrh Mountains, where Kennecott Copper Mine, the world’s largest man-made excavation, is located.
Settled in the mid-19th century, the city has developed into its own regional center. As of 2012, the city has four major retail centers; with Jordan Landing being one of the largest mixed-use planned developments in the Intermountain West. Companies headquartered in West Jordan include Mountain America Credit Union, Lynco Sales & Service, SME Steel, and Cyprus Credit Union. The city has one major hospital, Jordan Valley Medical Center, and a campus of Salt Lake Community College.
City landmarks include Gardner Village, established in 1850, and South Valley Regional Airport, formerly known as “Salt Lake Airport #2”. The airport serves general aviation operations as well as a base for the 211th Aviation Regiment of the Utah Army National Guard flying Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.
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Reviews for Ascent Law LLC West Jordan, Utah
We've gotten divorce and child custody work from Ascent Law since the beginning because of my ex. We love this divorce firm! Staff is gentle, friendly and skilled. Tanya knows her stuff. Nicole is good and Ryan is fun. Really, all the staff here are careful, kind and flexible. They always answer all my questions, explain what they're doing and provide great legal services. I personally think they are the best for divorce in Utah.
I have had an excellent experience with Ascent Law, Michael Reed is an absolutely incredible attorney. He is 100% honest and straight forward through the entire legal process of things, he also has a wonderful approach to helping better understand certain agreements, rights, and legal standing of matters, to where it was easy to know whats going on the entire process. I appreciate the competency, genuine effort put forth, and assistance I received from Ascent and attorney Michael Reed, and I will be calling these guys if ever I have the need again for their legal assistance! 5star review Wonderful attorneys!
This review is well deserved for Ryan and Josh. New clients should know they are worth the 5 star rating we give them. We needed 2 sessions from them because of the complexity of the matter, but they are both very passionate about his helping others in need. My sister needed bankruptcy and I needed divorce. Sometimes they go hand in hand but a large shout out to this team - also Nicole is one of the sweetest people you ever did meet - she offered me warm cookies!
Mike Anderson and his colleagues & staff are knowledgeable, attentive and caring. In a difficult and complex case that eventually went to trial, Mike was the voice of reason and the confidence I needed. His courtroom abilities are amazing and I felt his defense of me was incredible. His quick thinking and expertise allowed for a positive result when I felt the World was crumbling. His compassion, after the case, has helped me return to a good life. I trust Mike and his staff. They are friendly and very good at what they do.
I worked with Attorney Alex and Paralegal Ami in my divorce case. I got to know the team very well over the course of two years. I cannot think of a better team to have worked with. Ami and Alex are not only exceptional law professions who are very knowledgeable and thorough, they are also the best human beings who empathize with the emotions I was experiencing. Alex was conscious of my budget and worked efficiently to try to reduce unnecessary legal expenses. My case also involved some dealings with a foreign country that Alex and his team had previously dealt with. They did an amazing job addressing cultural barriers in a very respectful manner and did not fall short in quality of work or in standards when dealing with some of these new challenges. Ami deserves a medal for being extremely professional, calming, and compassionate when it is needed most. When you need family law attorneys, call this firm. I now feel I can move forward with grace and dignity.