Utah Probate

Specializing Attorneys: Jack C. Helgesen, Michael V. Houtz, Keith M. Backman, Scott P. Nickle, Erik S. Helgesen

Areas of Specialty: Asset Protection, Conservatorships, Guardianships, Health Care Directives, Living Wills, Medicaid Planning, Probate, Special Needs Trust, Trusts, Wills, Will & Trust Disputes


What is Utah Probate?

Utah probate is a court proceeding to wrap up the affairs of a person who has died, to pay debts and to transfer his or her property to heirs. During a probate, a judge has power to decide issues and resolve disputes. This includes the power to:

  • Appoint someone as Personal Representative for the deceased person’s estate, with legal authority to sign deeds and important documents, to make decisions and to act in place of the deceased.
  • Decide who should be the Personal Representative if a dispute existsSenior couple studying at computer medium 1x1
  • Remove a Personal Representative who has not acted responsibly
  • Decide whether the deceased left a last Will
  • Decide if a Will is authentic and valid
  • Decide disputes about the meaning of a Will or Trust
  • Decide what property and rights the deceased possessed
  • Decide if property should be sold or kept for the heirs
  • Declare which debts are valid and which debts should be paid
  • Make orders and decide other disputes

“Probate” is the Utah court process for wrapping up a person’s financial affairs and transferring his or her property to heirs, either under a Will or without a Will. The Utah Probate Code (Utah Code sections 75-1-101, et. seq.) describes the rules and procedures of Utah probate. It can be confusing, so get some help. Do-it-yourself probate avoidance often creates more problems than it solves. Be wise and careful.

In the last 30 years, attorneys at Helgesen, Houtz & Jones have created hundreds of revocable trusts for our clients. We know how to help you! You can contact and meet with our Estate Planning attorneys for a FREE estate planning consultation at either of our two full-time offices. Call us today. You’ll be glad you did. We know revocable trusts!

FAQs about Utah probate

What is probate? Probate is the court process of wrapping up the affairs of a person who has died, paying the debts, and transferring his or her property to others.

When is probate needed? Probate is needed whenever a person dies owning property in his or her own name which requires a title or

court order to transfer it. Under Utah probate law, “property” is broadly defined to include any valuable right, interest, possession or claim. Probate may also be needed for creditors to collect their debts from the person’s estate if the debts are not paid by the family.

Deciding whether you need a probate can be complicated. We are happy to answer this question for you in  free cconsultation. If you want more information, see “Sixteen Questions to determine if you need a probate in Utah.

What kinds of property do not need to be probated? These categories of property are transferred upon death without the need for probate:

  • Real estate or securities (stocks, bonds, etc.) held in joint tenancy
  • Jointly owned accounts
  • Accounts with a “payable on death” beneficiary designation
  • Insurance with a beneficiary designated other than the estate of the deceased
  • Property left in Trust with directions to transfer it to another after death
  • Tangible personal property, debts owed to the deceased, stocks, or claims held by a person with a small estate (less than $100,000). These may be collected by an affidavit from or for the person entitled to inherit them. (The affidavits may not be enforceable outside the state of Utah.)

Is probate required if a person leaves a last will? Yes. Probate is required whether or not a person has a will if property needs to be

transferred or creditors need a probate to collect debts .

When must a probate be filed? Probate actions must be filed within a Utah district court within three years after the death of a person.

After that time, a will cannot be probated, but Utah courts retain some power to declare heirs and transfer property under the laws of intestacy (death without a will).

How long will probate take? If the probate is not contested, it can be finished in a few weeks (or days in special cases). If the probate is

challenged by someone who disagrees, it can take years.

How expensive is the probate process? That depends on what needs to be done Our probate attorneys will meet with you in a FREE CONSULTATION and describe the costs before you hire us. We will keep our fees as low as possible and we won’t charge you for unnecessary work.