Probate Frequently asked questions
What is probate?
Through this process, the Personal Representative obtains the authorization from the court to settle the affairs of the estate. The Personal Representative has certain duties when handling the estate, including:
Paying the final bills
Determining heirs of the estate
Preparing an inventory of the estate
Gathering all of the assets of the estate for distribution
Filing a final tax return for the estate
Determining the validity of claims against the estate and, when necessary, paying those claims
Distributing the assets of the estate to those designated in the will or, when there is no will, to those heirs of the decedent as designated by Utah statutes.
When is probate necessary?
Probate is necessary whenever the deceased person owned property in his or her own name, or whenever he or she had assets that exceed $100,000. If you are not sure whether probate is required in your situation, it is best to consult with an attorney who handles probate matters in order to make that determination.
When is probate not required?
Probate is usually required to transfer assets held in your name after you die. If you own real estate or a bank account held in your name when you die, a probate proceeding is nearly always required to transfer those assets after you die. It may be possible to transfer clothing and other similar personal effects without a probate proceeding, but each situation is different. If your estate is worth less than $100,000 and does not include real estate, a simplied court process can often be used. We can provide advice regarding whether probate is required to family members of a deceased individual in each situation.
How long does the probate process take?
The probate process takes a minimum of approximately four months, but often takes longer than that. If there is any dispute as to the validity of a will or the desires of the decedent, a probate case can sometimes take years to fully resolve, depending on the complexity of the dispute.
How is the probate process concluded?
What is the role of the court?
The court can either have a formal role in a probate matter, or an informal role. If there is no dispute between any of the heirs of the estate or creditors of the estate, the probate matter can be handled informally.
With informal probate matters, typically no hearings or court appearances are required and the probate can be fully resolved through filing documents with the court.
With a formal closing of a probate matter, a Request for Formal Closing is filed with the court and a hearing is held and a judge authorizes the closing of the estate.
What are the responsibilities of the Personal Representative?
File a petition with the court (with an original death certificate and will)
Get appointed Personal Representative of the estate
Prepare an inventory of the assets and liabilities of the estate
Pay debts of the estate
Review and accept or reject creditors claims
Pay the final taxes (if any) of the estate and arrange for the filing of the final tax return
Distribute assets of the estate to the appropriate beneficiaries
File documentation with the court to close the probate matter and release the Personal Representative from any further liability or obligation
What are the costs involved in Probate?
As of 2018, the court charges a filing fee in the amount of $360 to open a probate matter. To publish notice to creditors, newspapers usually charge around $200. Additionally, if you hire an attorney to prepare the court filings and guide you through the probate process, you will pay their hourly fee.
Fees for probate can vary widely, depending on what is needed. For a basic, uncontested probate matter, it may be as little as a few hundred dollars. For more complex estates that are contested in court, the fee could be significantly more based on the amount of time required to resolve and administer the estate.