Last Updated: July 8, 2024

Introduction to Probate: Understanding the Basics

Navigating Probate in Utah Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the legal aftermath can be overwhelming. Understanding the basics of probate can help ease some of the stress and confusion. This series of articles provides an overview of probate, explaining key terms, steps involved, and what…

Navigating Probate in Utah

Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with the legal aftermath can be overwhelming. Understanding the basics of probate can help ease some of the stress and confusion. This series of articles provides an overview of probate, explaining key terms, steps involved, and what to expect throughout the process.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of settling a person’s affairs after death. During probate, a court will verify the person’s will (or identify the legal heirs if there is no will), then authorize the executor or personal representative to settle any bills and taxes and distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate heirs.

Probate is always more straightforward when you have a will that outlines your wishes clearly. These documents are especially useful in naming beneficiaries and a personal representative (aka executor) responsible for your carrying out your directions.

Key Terms and Definitions

  • Decedent: The person who has passed away.
  • Estate: The real and personal property and debts left by the decedent.
  • Personal Representative: The individual appointed by the court to settle and handle the decedent’s estate. Duties can include contacting heirs and creditors, paying taxes, and distributing property.
  • Executor: A traditional title used for the personal representative.
  • Administrator: A title sometimes applied to a person appointed by the court as personal representative when there is no will.
  • Beneficiary: A person or entity entitled to receive assets from the estate under a will.
  • Heir: A person designated by statute as being entitled to inherit if there is no will.
  • Intestate: Dying without a valid will.
  • Testate: Dying with a valid will.

Stay tuned for our next article where we will discuss when probate is required in Utah and provide examples to illustrate common scenarios.

Originally Published: July 8, 2024

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