Last Updated: July 8, 2024

Introduction to Probate: Formal vs. Informal Probate in Utah

In this fifth article of our series on probate in Utah, we will explore the differences between formal and informal probate. Understanding these two types of probate can help you choose the right process for managing a decedent’s estate. What is Informal Probate? Informal probate is a simplified process for…

In this fifth article of our series on probate in Utah, we will explore the differences between formal and informal probate. Understanding these two types of probate can help you choose the right process for managing a decedent’s estate.

What is Informal Probate?

Informal probate is a simplified process for administering a decedent’s estate when there is no disagreement among the heirs and beneficiaries. This process is generally quicker, less complex, and less expensive than formal probate because it can often be completed without any court hearings.

When to Use Informal Probate

Informal probate can be used if:

  • All interested parties agree on the appointment of the personal representative.
  • There are no disputes about the validity of the will.
  • The estate is straightforward, with clear instructions for distribution.

Steps in the Informal Probate Process

  1. File the Application:
    • The person seeking to be appointed personal representative files an application with the probate court.
    • Include the decedent’s death certificate and the original will.
  2. Notify Interested Parties:
    • Notify appropriate heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors about the probate proceedings.
    • Interested parties can sign a waiver of notice to expedite the process.
  3. Court Appoints the Personal Representative:
    • The court can appoint the personal representative without a formal hearing if there are no objections.
    • The personal representative receives Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration authorizing them to manage the estate.
  4. Administer the Estate:
    • The personal representative collects and inventories the estate’s assets.
    • Pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate.
    • Distribute the remaining assets according to the will or state law.
  5. Close the Estate:
    • Submit a final accounting to the court.
    • Request the court to close the estate once all duties are fulfilled.

What is Formal Probate?

Formal probate involves court supervision and is used when disputes or complications arise in administering the estate. This process typically requires one or more court hearings and is more detailed and time-consuming than informal probate.

When to Use Formal Probate

Formal probate is necessary if:

  • There is disagreement about the appointment of the personal representative.
  • The validity of the will is contested.
  • The estate is complex, with unclear or disputed instructions for distribution.

Steps in the Formal Probate Process

  1. File the Petition:
    • The petitioner files a petition with the probate court to open formal probate and appoint a personal representative.
    • Include the decedent’s death certificate and the original will.
  2. Schedule a Hearing:
    • The court schedules a hearing to review the petition.
    • Notify all interested parties of the hearing date.
  3. Attend the Hearing:
    • Interested parties can attend the hearing to express any objections or concerns.
    • The court resolves any disputes and appoints a personal representative. (Multiple hearings may be required.)
  4. Administer the Estate:
    • The personal representative collects and inventories the estate’s assets.
    • Pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate.
    • With court supervision, distribute the remaining assets according to the will or state law.
  5. Close the Estate:
    • Submit a final accounting to the court.
    • Request the court to close the estate once all duties are fulfilled.

Choosing Between Formal and Informal Probate

Choosing between formal and informal probate depends on the specifics of the estate and the relationships among the interested parties. Informal probate is suitable for straightforward cases with no disputes. In contrast, formal probate is necessary for more complex or contested estates.

Conclusion

Understanding the differences between formal and informal probate can help you decide the best approach for administering a decedent’s estate. For personalized assistance, contact Stone River Law. Our experienced probate attorneys are here to guide you through every step of the probate process.

Originally Published: July 10, 2024

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