Probate Process in Utah

What is Probate?
Family Law Attorney Ogden

In Utah, probate is the court process whereby the affairs of a deceased person are adequately dealt with.  This means that the deceased person’s assets will be moved out of their estate and into the hands of beneficiaries.  Additionally, money will be taken from the estate to pay off the deceased individual’s debts and obligations.  The probate court will oversee the process of gathering records, notifying creditors of the decedent’s death, verifying the decedent’s outstanding debts, determining if the deceased person left a will, determining who the appropriate heirs are, appointing a guardian for minor children, and finally distributing the remaining property of the estate.

Can I Avoid Probate Court?

Yes, you can avoid probate court with proper planning.  Arguable the best way of avoiding Utah probate court is to create a revocable trust to hold your property.  This type of trust allows you the utmost freedom as you manage your property.  You can modify it, terminate it, add property to it, or take property out of it as often as you see fit.  When you create this trust, you will appoint a trustee to manage the trust property after you die.  When you do die, this trustee will take over the management of the trust and distribute the trust funds and trust property as you have instructed.  There will be no need for the probate court to oversee this process.

Length of Time and Associated Costs

The most simple probate matters can be resolved in about one month.  This occurs when all of the deceased individual’s creditors are known, property does not need to be sold, and the heirs agree on how property should be distributed.  However, if property needs to be sold to pay off debts and creditors need to be located, the process can be much longer.  If heirs begin fighting over the distribution of property, the probate process can last longer than a year.

Probate can be complicated and expensive.  Because the probate process can be complicated, many individuals find it necessary to hire an experienced Utah estate planning attorney.  In the most simple cases, you may find yourself spending between $1,500 – $2,000 in attorney fees.  In complex cases where heirs are fighting over property, you could spend upwards of $5,000 in attorney fees.