What Is Formal And Informal Probate In Utah?

Understanding the difference between formal and informal probate in Utah can be confusing. The difference between the two affects how easy or difficult it is for the heir to the estate to manage or distribute its assets. Probate is required if the estate includes real property such as a house, land, condo, etc., of any value or if the estate has assets worth more than $100,000 other than the land or cars. 

Planning ahead of time and developing a clearly outlined Will can help avoid legal challenges and financial costs when managing your or your loved ones’ estate. Having an attorney on your side to help you through this challenging time is essential. At ProvenLaw, our team of experts has years of experience navigating estate law, probate, wills, and trusts and can help you understand the complexities of Utah’s probate laws. 

We will explain the fundamental differences between formal and informal probate in Utah to help you better understand and prepare you for the process of probate.

Two people discussing Probate

What Is Informal Probate In Utah?

Informal probate in Utah is when the estate heir or nominated personal representative files a request for the court to appoint a personal representative without a hearing. All potentially interested parties must agree on who they want to serve as the personal representative of one is not nominated in a Will. 

All interested parties may sign a renunciation and nomination form to indicate who they want to act as the estate’s representative if the decedent did not nominate one. Interested parties include:

  • Everyone named in the will
  • Children
  • Spouses
  • Creditors – Anyone having the right in or claim against the estate of the deceased
  • Heirs and beneficiaries

The personal representative handles all estate matters and may also bring court claims on behalf of the estate, including:

  • Selling property to pay debts or taxes
  • Contacting all beneficiaries, and creditors
  • Taking inventory of the estate, determining and paying taxes, collecting any money owed to the estate
  • Distribution of any property, proceeds, and assets to the heirs

There can be no concerns or challenges on how the estate will be distributed or handled to file informal probate. Generally, these conditions occur with a small, cohesive group of beneficiaries, and there is a Will that gives directions for the management and distribution of the estate.
According to Utah Code 75-3-107, filing Informal probate must be completed within three years of the decedent’s death; however, it may not be filed with the court until five days have passed. If it is past the allotted time, there is a different process, and you should contact an experienced probate attorney for assistance.

What Is Formal Probate In Utah?

Formal probate in Utah is pretty much the opposite of informal probate. Often, formal probate is required when there is no Will, a large number of assets, a large estate, several interested parties, or disagreements regarding the distribution of the estate.

The beneficiaries and their probate attorney will ask the court to appoint a personal representative for the estate. A court-appointed representative is necessary to navigate the distribution of assets and management of the estate. When filing formal probate, the attorney must attend the court hearing, but the client may not have to attend.

The judge may supervise and approve each step if necessary to avoid and resolve conflict. Formal probate is more time-consuming and expensive than an informal probate, and it’s sometimes required to complete the distribution of the estate and assets and close out debts. Under some circumstances, the judge may require the court-appointed representative to post a bond.

Is Probate Necessary?

Probate is not automatic and may not be necessary; however, filing probate may be in your best interest and help to mitigate future issues. Probate puts a hold on debt collection as creditors and banks will not automatically clear a debt because someone has died, and without probate, creditors may claim assets to help recover their losses. 

Probate law is essential as it establishes a procedure to ensure the estate distribution happens according to the deceased’s wishes. Working with an estate attorney will help make this process much more manageable and less stressful.


At ProvenLaw, We Have The Expertise To Help You

Whether you are in the beginning stages of writing your will or find yourself in the position of needing to file probate, at ProvenLaw, we specialize in every aspect of estate planning and probate, including trusts, healthcare directives, power of attorney, and wills.

We are here to help you navigate the complexities of settling your loved ones’ estate and help you through the process with our experienced and compassionate team. Contact us today to learn more and set up an appointment.