If you don’t work in the field regularly, the different estate terms and types can get confusing. These distinctions matter, though, because they control how easy or hard it is for your heirs to manage and distribute your assets after your death. While some larger estates are, of necessity, complex, good planning can help you avoid legal struggles and even costly considerations regarding estate management.
- Informal Probate: In Utah, an Informal Probate occurs when the heirs ask the court to appoint a personal representative without holding a hearing. This can only occur if all interested parties clearly agree on who should serve as personal representative and there are no concerns over how the estate is going to be distributed. This could be due to the small number of assets, the small and close-knit group of beneficiaries, and guided by exceptionally clear directions in the will.
- Formal Probate: The opposite of informal probate, formal probate is when the estate and it’s beneficiaries must go before the court and ask the court to appoint a personal representative for the estate. This hearing may be necessary due to a potential disagreement over how the assets will be managed and distributed or if there are special circumstances with the estate that make having court oversight wise to prevent future claims. The court may require the personal representative to post a bond.
- Small Estate: Not all estates are required to go through the probate process. In Utah, an estate worth less than $100,000 that has no real property and meets a number of other requirements can be managed using a small estate affidavit. This is handled when the deceased individual’s successor in interest signs and notarizes the appropriate form. This form does not need to be filed with the courts and can be used to take steps such as close bank accounts and transfer other small, non-real-property assets. This process cannot be used, however, if there is a question over who the individual’s successor would be.
- Renunciation: If an estate does not name a specific individual to serve as the personal representative, Utah law contains a priority order from which the estate’s executor will be selected. For example, a parent would have priority over a sibling, but could then sign a renunciation and allow the adult sibling to manage the estate.
Many estate concerns and complications can be avoided, or at least limited, by proactive estate planning. Planning also allows you to take advantage of trusts, life insurance, jointly-held property, and other mechanisms to avoid or limit probate. Reach out to the team of experienced estate attorneys at Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 to set up a free consultation today.