We are often asked “What do I do after a loved one dies?” Even with a will or trust in place, the estate or living trust must be settled. “Estate settlement” is a broad term that describes the process of collecting assets of a deceased person, accounting for such assets, paying debts and expenses, and then distributing those assets according to a will, a trust, or according to applicable law. Here are answers to some common questions about probate in Utah:

Probate is the legal process of settling the affairs of a person who has died (decedent), including asking the court to determine if the decedent had a valid will, or if there is no will (intestate) to determine the heirs of the decedent, and to appoint a personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The decedent’s estate is all real property and personal property owned to the decedent as of the date of death, along with any debts or obligations owed by the decedent.

The probate process may include gathering assets, paying debts, notifying heirs and creditors, filing and paying taxes, selling estate assets, preparing and providing accountings, petitioning the court to close the estate, and distributing property to the decedent’s successors.

Because of the complexity that can arise in even a small estate, we recommend you hire an attorney experienced with 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