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Many people become involved with administering an estate at some point during their life. The death of a parent, grandparent, or other close family member, may necessitate obtaining legal guidance from an experienced probate or estate attorney to properly distribute their assets. Whether you are the personal representative (executor) of an estate going to probate or successor trustee of a trust, SSW Law will help and protect you through the process.

Utah Probate and Estate Administration

Probate and estate (trust) administration encompass the legal processes necessary to settle a person’s estate after death. The appointed representative (usually a family member) opens the probate case in court. From filing through distribution, our Utah probate attorneys will guide you every step of the way.

If your parent or family member had a trust and appointed you as their successor trustee, we will help you through the estate (trust) administration process. We will ensure that distributions are accurate and that, as the trustee, you are protected from the beneficiaries suing you for failing to properly perform your trustee and fiduciary duties.

The Probate and Estate Administration Process

A personal representative (executor) will be appointed at the outset of the probate process. If there is a valid will, then the named personal representative will be appointed according to that instrument. If there are no estate documents, then the personal representative will be appointed by a probate judge who will make a determination based on the fitness of potential candidates in the order of priority outlined under Utah Law.

Successor trustees are appointed in the trust instrument. If there is a vacancy of trusteeship or the appointed trustee is incapable or unwilling to serve as acting trustee, our Utah trust attorneys will help you appoint a trustee so that the trust assets can be distributed. In either case, a number of steps must be taken between death and the distribution of assets. Our firm can help executors and estate administrators with the following:

  • Filing a petition with the appropriate probate court
  • Notifying beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors of the estate administration
  • Appointing the personal representative or trustee
  • Inventorying and appraising estate assets
  • Reviewing claims filed by creditors
  • Paying approved claims
  • Selling assets if the estate lacks liquidity
  • Preparing and paying estate taxes
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries and/or heirs
  • Protecting trustees from being sued by beneficiaries

Why Should Families Avoid Utah Probate?

Many people have been told that they should try and “avoid probate.” But they may not know why it can be a problem or how to avoid it successfully. Below are some reasons to avoid probate:

A Lack of Privacy

Probate cases are filed in court and are in the public record.

Family Conflict

Probate allows disgruntled family members the opportunity to challenge or contest a will. This legal challenge is on the deceased’s dime and doesn’t require the aggrieved family member to file a separate action and front the court costs to bring suit.


Like most things that end up in the court system, probate can be time-consuming. In more complex estates, the entire process can last months or years.

Costly Court Process

Since probate requires a filing fee, court appearances, and extensive paperwork, the legal costs can mount up quickly.

How Can Families Prevent the Need for Utah Probate?

Creating a comprehensive estate plan is the best way to avoid probate. Our experienced team of attorneys at Sandberg, Stettler, & White can work with you and your loved ones to complete the estate documents necessary to avoid probate in Utah.

Revocable Living Trust

A trust is the primary way that Sandberg, Stettler, & White helps individuals and families avoid Utah probate. A revocable living trust manages property transferred to the trust during the owner’s lifetime and lists the beneficiaries who will receive the trust property upon death. The trustmaker chooses people to act as trustees to accomplish this. So long as the trustmaker’s assets have been transferred to the trust or will be distributed via other nonprobate transfer methods, the need for probate will be avoided.

Our estate planning attorneys can help you and your loved ones understand estate planningMedicaid long-term care planningcrisis Medicaid planningVA planningspecial needs planning, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). With offices in Kaysville and South Jordan, our Utah law firm welcomes the opportunity to consult with new clients in Davis, Weber, Salt Lake, Utah, and surrounding counties to learn more about how we can help meet your estate planning and asset protection needs.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you protect assets and preserve wealth.

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