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Probate Lawyer - Tips for Inheritance Asset Protection

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In almost all cases, probate law requires that a Utah probate attorney to be involved in the administering of the estate. There are very few exceptions to this probate law so it's in your best interest to hire an attorney when you have to go through probate in Utah. But how do you know when to hire a probate attorney?

What is Utah Probate?

Probate is the process of establishing the deceased's loans, assets, debts, taxes, claims and expenses. Then, after paying creditors, distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. In accordance with Utah probate law, this process is court supervised and can either be Formal Administration (an attorney is required) or Summary Administration (an attorney is optional).

Utah Probate: Formal Administration

In every case, Formal Administration requires a probate lawyer familiar with probate law in Utah. Formal Administration is a formal probate process in a special probate court with a judge and all parties represented by legal counsel. Formal Administration is the most common method of administering probate cases for two reasons:

1. The deceased has property and assets in excess of $75,000 and has passed away within the past two years.
2. The deceased requested Formal Administration in his or her will.

Utah Probate: Summary Administration

Summary Administration is an abbreviated probate process and does not require a Utah probate attorney. Usually, Summary Administration requires you to complete forms and provide original documents Summary Administration is only used if:

1. the deceased passed away more than 2 years ago or
2. the assets and property are less than $75,000.

Even if your case qualifies for Summary Administration, Utah Probate Law allows you to choose Formal Administration. If you choose Formal Administration, you will need a lawyer. Consult a probate attorney to help you determine if Formal or Summary Administration is right for your situation.

Why does Utah Probate Law Require an Attorney?

Even with a valid will, legal in the state of Utah, a probate attorney is recommended by the state to represent the executor or personal representative of the will to ensure they have completed all the necessary tasks and have preserved the estate. A personal representative is the executor to the will. This can be a bank or trust company but is usually a person. Some of the tasks that are part of the probate process in Utah:

1. Give Probate notice to creditors to allow them to make a claim for payment from the estate.
2. Assess each claim and pay it, negotiate a lower payment or object the claim.
3. Gather all the assets of the estate.
4. Preserve the assets of the estate until it is time to distribute the assets.
5. Pay taxes for the deceased.
6. Take care of any other legal or financial business specific to the deceased.

There are other tasks the personal representative is responsible for depending on the size and scope of the estate.

The personal representative will have to file legal forms and send out legal documents as well. Because of the many and varied responsibilities of the personal representative, seeking the professional advice of a Utah probate attorney is not only recommended, probate law requires it for a Formal Administration.

How to avoid Utah Probate?

There is only one way to avoid probate in the state of Utah. Probate laws do not apply to revocable trusts that name beneficiaries. If you have all assets and property funded in a revocable trust, then all assets and property pass to named beneficiaries without going through the courts. There is another added benefit to a revocable trust, and that is, that all details are kept private, unlike the Utah probate process where there are few privacy protections.

Settling the estate of someone after they pass away can be a very difficult job, even with a valid will and revocable trusts. However, in most cases the deceased did not leave a valid will and revocable trusts. If the estate is worth more than $75,000.00, probate law requires that you hire a probate attorney to ensure that the deceased's assets get into the right hands. If the estate is worth less than $75,000.00 it is recommended but not required that you hire an attorney. In any case, it's best to consult with a Utah probate attorney to determine how you should proceed.