Informal Probate in Utah
Informal probate is a type of probate process that does not take the entire matter to court. Unlike a formal probate process, there are minimal involvements of the court such as the absence of court hearings or court order. Another difference from formal probate is the absence of a probate judge that renders judgment about estate assets. Instead, the parties themselves may agree on how best to distribute the inheritance within themselves.
Informal probation is ideal when there are no will contestations and when the loved ones of the deceased all agree to handle the estate by themselves. If someone you loved passed away and left an inheritance, you can simply appoint one of your family members as your representative who will take charge of the matter.
Appointing a Personal Representative
When appointing a personal representative, there is an order of priority that must be followed:
- If the decedent left a last will and testament, then the executor or administrator indicated in the estate planning document is the first option for the personal representative
- The surviving spouse of the decedent
- Other devisees of the deceased
- Heirs of the estate owner
Personal representatives designated through a living will are given the top highest priority. Furthermore, this type of designation cannot be transferred to someone else. However, the others can still nominate someone else to be the personal representative or have a judge appoint a person in case the chosen representative has been incapacitated.
Once probate is active the representative will need to administer the estate. It is his or her responsibility to:
- Prepare and pay the inventory
- Give notice to a creditor or creditors
- Give written notices of publication before the allowance of the petition
- Pay estate taxes, inheritance tax, gift taxes, tax returns, and other taxes in lieu of the estate owner
- Settle probate fees and other bills of the estate
- Distribute other remaining assets
Pros and Cons of an Informal Probate
Since court involvement is minimal, one of the advantages of informal probate is the lower costs compared with formal probate proceedings. The informal probates remain open until the personal representative is relieved from his duty. In case that happens and other assets (such as life insurance policies) are discovered, the representative can deal with it without reopening the probate.
However, one disadvantage of informal probates is the fact that heirs and beneficiaries can change their mind anytime about giving their consent to go through this type of probate. This means that anytime they may decide to file a petition for formal probate to be initiated in court. Another disadvantage is that if debts or claims arise against the estate years after, the personal representative may be held liable for what is owed.
Requirements for an Informal Probate
Aside from applying to the courthouse to have the estate assigned to an informal probate proceeding, the following information is also needed:
- Proof of intestacy
- Certified copy of death certificate
- List of potential recipients such as a beneficiary, heir, and other interested parties
- Catalog of all estate property, assets, including debts
Filing the necessary work must be done not long after the death of the grantor because too much lapse in the time of death may not enable you to file for informal probate.
Get Help from Our Utah Probate Attorneys
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be overwhelming and complicated, especially if an estate is involved. While it is not necessary to hire a probate attorney to assist you, having one will help avoid complications and contestations. A probate lawyer can walk you through the legal process, discuss probate issues, help in estate administration and estate settlement, and arrange estate planning documents in the most efficient way possible. Utah Child Custody is a law firm with years of experience in handling probate cases and our probate attorneys can help through go through the process feeling secured and stress-free. Contact us to schedule your legal consultation!