Probate refers to the process of settling a person’s estate after they pass away. An executor or personal representative, who is either nominated by the deceased person’s will or appointed by the court, has the legal authority to assets and property in the estate, pay bills and taxes, and distribute estate property to the rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
When is probate necessary?
The purpose of going through the probate process is to prevent fraud after death. That being said, probate only applies to your estate in the following situations.
- You own real property (such as a home or real estate) solely in your name or under tenancy in common.
- The value of your probate assets exceed the Utah small estate threshold.
If you’re unsure whether your estate will have to go through probate after you die, make sure to consult with a local estate planning attorney.
In addition, estates that fall below threshold for small estates can skip probate. A few other examples of situations wherein probate is unnecessary include the following.
- Joint Tenancy. The right of survivorship allows a surviving joint tenant to become the owner of the entire asset if the other tenant dies.
- Tenancy by the Entirety and Community Property With Right of Survivorship. Similar to joint tenancy, these forms of property ownership for married couples lets the surviving spouse own the entire property upon their partner’s death.
- Beneficiary Designations. Beneficiaries named in your retirement account and life insurance policies are entitled to the assets in the account or the proceeds of the policy without having to go through probate.
Lastly, trust funds, trust property, and any assets held in a trust don’t need to go through the process of probate as long as these assets don’t exceed the small estate limit in Utah. If you need help setting up a trust, reach out to a reliable trust attorney to discuss which types of trust is right for your estate plan.
What are the types of probate?
The Uniform Probate Code of Utah describes three types of probate proceedings – informal, supervised formal, and unsupervised formal.
- Informal Probate. This applies when there are no issues to be resolved with either creditors or inheritors regarding your estate. The personal representative is responsible for sending out formal notices distributing the estate property.
- Formal Probate. This type of probate involves a court proceeding, where a judge can settle disputes regarding the amount owed to creditors, distribution of assets to inheritors, and the meaning of a will. The probate court oversees the entire process for a supervised probate proceeding, but an unsupervised one only requires the approval of the probate judge for certain actions taken by the executor.
Do I need a probate attorney?
While you’re not required by law to have legal counsel for probate, it’s in your best interest to hire a trustworthy probate lawyer who can provide you with legal advice and guidance. The probate process is complicated, but adding the responsibility of estate administration as executors makes it much more difficult.
At Wᴀʟᴅʀᴏɴ Lᴀᴡ Gʀᴏᴜᴘ, we have more than 20 years of experience in helping clients protect the things that are most important to them. Our experienced probate attorneys can guide you throughout the probate process and provide legal assistance to help you achieve peace of mind. Contact us and start securing your family’s future today!