Your Guide To Utah Probate

We are often asked “What do I do now that my loved one has died?” Even with estate planning documents in place, the estate or living trust of a decedent must be settled in accordance with the law.

“Estate settlement” is a broad term that describes the process of collecting assets of a decedent, accounting for such assets, paying debts and expenses, and then distributing those assets according to a decedent’s will or trust or according to applicable law. The estate settlement process encompasses numerous laws, including trust laws, probate laws, state and federal estate tax laws, and federal and state income tax laws. Legal counsel can advise and help a personal representative (executor) or trustee navigate through the host of issues to properly settle an estate or trust.



Probate is a legal process designed to safeguard the deceased’s estate, pay all debts and taxes, resolve who is entitled to what assets, then disburse the property accordingly. It usually involves petitioning the probate court to open an estate, naming a personal representative to administer the deceased’s property, printing notices to creditors in local newspapers, disposing of property to pay debts, and petitioning the court to close the estate. Because of the complexity that can arise in handling even a relatively small estate, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney experienced in the field of Utah probate law.

The estate settlement process may involve the following:

  • Informal probate
  • Formal probate
  • Notice to creditors
  • Trust administration
  • Preparation and filing of a federal estate tax return – IRS Form 706
  • Small estate proceeding
  • Affidavits for collection of personal property
  • Estate valuation and collection of benefits
  • Estate and trust asset transfers
  • Estate and trust accounting
  • Real estate transfers
  • Handling closely-held business interests
  • Preparation and filing of estate or trust income tax returns – IRS Form 1041
  • Disclaimers
  • Collection of retirement benefits (IRAs, 401(k) plans, pension plans, etc.)
  • Receipt and release forms from estate or trust beneficiaries
  • Formal estate closing and accounting with the probate court