Probate for Small UT Estates

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Courthouse for estate probate

In Utah, small estates can completely bypass probate via small estate affidavit, or simplify it via summary administration.

Small Estate Affidavit

If the assets of a Utah estate are worth <$100,000, you can use the small estate process to settle an estate with no court involvement.

Requirements

To use the small estate process, the following conditions must be true:

  • The estate has a gross value <$100K
  • At least 30 days have passed since the death
  • No petition has already been made to the court to officially appoint a personal representative

In determining the gross value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death, and ignore any unsecured debts. Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

To use the small estate process:

  1. Prepare a Small Estate Affidavit, and have it notarized
  2. Obtain possession of estate assets by presenting the affidavit to current custodians (this affidavit cannot be used to collect real estate)
  3. Settle the estate in the normal way (pay debts, distribute remaining assets)
  4. If the estate includes any vehicles, you must also submit a Survivorship Affidavit (Form TC-569C).

Estate Settlement Considerations

Before paying any debts or making any distributions, be sure to account for any UT Family Entitlements, which typically have priority over everything except expenses of the last illness, funeral charges, and any estate administrations expenses.

Estate debts have priority over most distributions in turn, so you should arrange to have all debts resolved before distributing assets. Unpaid estate creditors have the right to sue heirs for the value of any distributions received using the approaches described on this page.

If estate solvency is uncertain, an executor should consider going through official probate for the increased creditor protection it offers. Alternately, such uncertainty can sometimes persuade creditors to forgive a portion of debts, since they will want to avoid legal expenses as well, and may prefer to get something rather than nothing.

See also Making Distributions.

See Utah Code Ann. § 75-3-1201.

Summary Administration

Summary Administration (also known as simplified probate) can instead be used for estates with a small net value if you want a more formal approach.

Requirements

You can use summary administration (also known as simplified probate) if it appears that the value of the entire estate does not exceed the sum of the following:

  1. Family entitlements (other than a spousal elective share)
  2. Estate administration expenses
  3. Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the decedent's last illness

In determining the value of the estate, you should value assets as of the date of death. Ignore any unsecured debts (such as credit cards), but do account for secured debts such as mortgages (i.e., if a house is worth $150K and has a $130K mortgage, the house would contribute $20K to the estate value). Do not include any assets that would not normally go through probate, such as community property with rights of survivorship, assets with named beneficiaries (e.g., 401Ks, life insurance policies), and other standard probate exclusions.

Process

To settle an estate via summary administration:

  1. Submit an Application for Probate or an Application for Probate without a Will to the court
  2. Submit Waiver of Notice forms for every heir (or notify any heirs not included)
  3. Upon approval, the court will appoint you personal representative for the estate, and give you your "Letters"
  4. Use your "Letters" to collect the assets
  5. Settle the estate by honoring any family entitlements and paying the debt listed in the Requirements section (to the extent possible)
  6. Prepare a final accounting of all estate finances (consider using the EstateExec Accounting Report)
  7. File a Closing Statement with the court, and send a copy to all interested parties (see below)
  8. If no actions or proceedings involving the personal representative are pending in the court one year after you file the closing statement, your appointment as personal representative terminates

Closing Statement

The Closing Statement is a document that includes:

  • A list of all estate assets and values (consider attaching an EstateExec Inventory Report)
  • A statement, that to the best of your knowledge, the estate value did not exceed the items listed in the Requirements section
  • A statement that you fully administered the estate by disbursing and distributing it to the persons entitled
  • A statement that you sent a copy of the closing statement to all distributees and to all creditors or other claimants of whom you are aware whose valid claims were not paid, and that you have furnished a final estate accounting report to the distributees whose interests were affected

See Utah Code Ann. § 75-3-1203.

Court

In Utah, the local District Court handles wills and estate probate, If you are using EstateExec and you enter the decedent's city of legal residence on the Decedent tab, you will see a direct link to the appropriate court here.

See also General Probate.

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