In Utah, anyone that passes away without a Will or other estate planning leaves his or her estate to pass under the Utah intestate succession rules. If you own property or other titled assets, a probate will need to be opened so authority can be granted to someone to divide your property according to the intestate rules. Briefly, these rules provide as follows:
If the deceased person was married when he died, and if he has no descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.), or if all of his descendants are also his surviving spouse’s descendants, then all of his property passes to his surviving spouse. If the deceased person was married, and if he has descendants who are not also the surviving spouse’s descendants, the surviving spouse receives an elective share of up to $75,000, then one-half of the balance of the deceased person’s property. The remaining one-half of the deceased person’s property passes to his descendants. This elective share of surviving spouse can be a complicated matter, click here for more information.
If the deceased person was not married when he died, the property passes to his descendants. If the deceased person has no descendants, it passes to his parents, and if his parents are not living, it passes to his brothers and sisters or to the children of any deceased brothers and sisters. If no descendants exist or they cannot be found, the property passes to the state of Utah.
There are no intestate rules regarding guardianship of minor children. If parents pass away without leaving a Will including a guardianship designation, any interested person can petition the Probate Court to seek guardianship of the children. If there is more than one interested person, the Probate Court will need to determine which person is best suited to care for the children.
Everyone, especially someone with minor children, should have some form of estate planning to avoid probate and ensure their family is properly cared for upon their death. The attorneys at Slemboski & Tobler can help you avoid probate and intestate succession by crafting an estate plan to meet your specific needs. This can be as simple as ensuring your property is held in joint-tenancy so it passes automatically upon your death, or executing a Last Will and Testament or Living Trust to ensure your property passes without the need for probate and according to your desires.
The foregoing is a very brief description of the Utah intestate succession rules. Call our office to discuss this in more detail or click here to review the full Intestate Succession sections of the Utah Uniform Probate Code.