Creating a will is an important step in planning the distribution of your estate (assets including real and personal property) following your death. Utah wills allow for any children, your spouse, other family members, and pets to be provided for after your death. LegalZoom works with you, the testator (the person making the will), to create valid Utah wills and to assign a person (called the executor in most states) to administer an Utah last will and testament after the death of the testator.
Basic Requirements for: Utah Last Will and Testament:
Age: The testator must be at least 18 years old.
Capacity: The testator must be of sound mind (capable of reasoning and making decisions).
Signature: An Utah last will and testament must be signed by the testator or by some other person under the testator's direction in the testator's presence.
Witnesses: At least 2 witnesses are required for a valid Utah last will and testament by subscribing their names to the will within a reasonable amount of time after witnessing the testator sign the will or the testator's acknowledgement of the will.
Writing: An Utah last will and testament must be in writing to be valid.
Beneficiaries: An Utah last will and testament may make a disposition of property to any person.
Other types of recognized wills:
Holographic Wills: A holographic will is one that is handwritten by the testator. Although Utah law recognizes a handwritten will, state laws can be very particular regarding handwritten wills. Handwritten wills that are not properly executed are invalid in Utah.
Distribution of Property:
A will is a legal document created by you to determine how your property, known as your estate, is distributed after your death. Your estate consists of assets and property including bank accounts, homes, land, furniture, automobiles, and securities (stocks and bonds). In general, Utah laws allow you to dispose of your property as you wish once your debts have been paid and the rights of your surviving spouse and children have been covered.
Other Purposes of Wills:
LegalZoom's Utah wills form may be used to designate a guardian for any minor children.
Our Utah wills form may be used to create a trust and designate a trustee to handle an estate (property left after death) on behalf of children or others.
Our Utah wills form may also be used to name an executor to handle a decedent's (the person who died) property and affairs from the time of death until an estate is settled.
Notable exceptions to the ability to distribute property:
Jointly owned property with the rights of survivorship automatically passes onto the survivor.
Elective share of spouse: The surviving spouse of a decedent who dies domiciled in Utah has a right of election, subject to applicable limitation, to take an elective-share amount equal to the value of 1/3 of the augmented estate (the sum of the values of all property that constitute the decedent's net probate estate and nonprobate transfers to others, less applicable exceptions).
Providing for Pets
Under applicable Utah state laws,a trust for the care of your pets is valid. After your death, the trust allows you to assign a caretaker for your pet(s) to ensure proper care of your pet. The trust terminates when no living animal is covered by the trust.
Changing and Revoking
Changing a Will
An Utah will and testament may be changed whenever the testator desires.
An Utah will and testament can be changed through a codicil, which is a document stating additions or changes to the original will. Codicils must be executed in accordance with Utah probate laws.
Revoking a Will
An Utah will and testament, or any part thereof, can be revoked:
By a subsequent will that revokes, or partially revokes, the prior will expressly or by conflicting or different parts; or
By being burnt, torn, canceled, obliterated, or destroyed, with the intent and for the purpose of revoking the same, by the testator or by another person in the presence and by the direction of the testator.
Revocation of a will in its entirety revokes its codicils, unless revocation of a codicil would be contrary to the testator's intent.
Probate and Estate Taxes
Probate is a legal process for starting the transfer of property when the testator dies. The procedures validate the Utah last will and determine ownership of the property. Property that does not pass via community property, right of survivorship, trust, or insurance is subject to probate proceedings.
After the Utah last will is admitted at court, the executor files applications for the probate of a will and for legal documents called letters testamentary.
Several important functions of probate proceedings include:
Collecting, or taking possession of, the decedent's property.
Protecting and preserving the decedent's estate.
Paying all debts, claims and taxes.
Determining who is entitled to the assets and distributing the property according to the Utah last will.
Utah estate tax is a "pick-up" tax designed to absorb the federal estate tax credit for state death taxes. No additional estate tax is imposed. The federal tax is based on the value of assets in the taxable estate. The Utah estate tax is equal to the state death tax credit allowed on the federal tax return. Filing an Utah estate tax return does not increase the total tax liability of the estate, but instead redirects revenues to the state which would go to the federal government.
It is extremely important to make an Utah will if you want to control the distribution of your estate. If you die before you make an Utah will (or other valid will) you are said to have died "intestate" and your property will be distributed according to strict Utah state laws.
The net estate (after paying debts, taxes, administrative costs, and funeral expenses) of a decedent is distributed to the surviving spouse and other heirs in adherence to Utah statutes.
For example: The intestate share of a decedent's surviving spouse is the entire intestate estate if: (i) no descendant of the testator survives; or (ii) all of the testator's surviving descendants are also descendants of the surviving spouse. The spouse's share is the first $50,000, plus 1/2 of any balance of the intestate estate, if one or more of the testator's surviving descendants are not descendants of the surviving spouse.
If you make an Utah will, your valid will prevents the laws of intestacy from deciding the distribution of your estate.