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Is formal probate always required if someone dies without a will in Utah?

When someone dies without a will, Utah law considers that the person has died "intestate."  The distribution of the decedent's estate is determined under portions of Utah's probate code governing intestate succession.  A properly developed estate plan including a will, trust, and other appropriate estate planning tools can often avoid the necessity of probate.  But even without those tools, a Utah estate planning attorney may be able to help you avoid the problems that can be associated with a formal probate.

If decedent's estate that is subject to administration is valued at less than $100,000 and if real property (a home, land, etc.) is not a part of the estate, then a small estates affidavit may often be used to collect and distribute the assets of the estate.  If the decedent died without executing a valid will, then distribution of the estate assets must still follow Utah law governing intestate succession.  But the use of a small estates affidavit does not require court involvement.

Utah law does not permit the use of a small estates affidavit to transfer title to real property or when the value of the estaet subject to administration is greater than $100,000.  In such cases, a court must appoint a personal representative and issue letters testamentary (if a valid will was executed) or letters of administration (if there was no will).  Often, letters testamentary or letters of administration can be obtained without going through a formal probate process.  Costs and time can be saved by going through an informal probate process with the court.

For help with Utah probate issues, or for information on preparing wills, trusts, or other estate planning documents, contact one of our Utah estate planning and family law attorneys today.

Whether you are planning ahead to avoid problems, or whether you need help determining how to deal with someone's estate, let one of our Utah wills and trusts attorneys help.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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