What is your experience?

We have represented clients in well over a hundred informal probate situations. We know the court processes and systems inside out in regard to informal probate petitions.

What is probate?

The word probate comes from the Latin term for probere: to prove. In the law, probate is associated with inheritance issues. You can read many definitions of the word probate, but we think our definition may be the easiest to remember:

Probate is the legal
Process of
Proving who is entitled to control and take
Possession of
Property after the owner's incapacity or death.

This definition is easy to remember. Five "p's" and five "pro's": Probate, Process, Proving, Possession, Property. Property includes real property (that is, real estate and associated homes or buildings). The word property also includes bank accounts, investment accounts, life insurance policies, vehicles, boats, and other assets. Property further includes a variety of things such as books, tools, collections, musical instruments, and other personal property.

What is the difference between probate litigation and probating a will?

See the answer to the question "What is the difference between formal and informal probate?"

What is the difference between formal and informal probate?

Informal probate is the court process by which the validity of a will is proven and a personal representative ("PR") is appointed. Informal probate generally does not involve any conflicts among the beneficiaries and fiduciaries. That is everyone agrees there is a will, but a third party is demanding that the validity of the will be established by a court or that a PR be appointed.

Putting aside technical definitions, formal probate is probate litigation: a conflict in a court of law among beneficiaries and fiduciaries regarding the validity of a will and often numerous other issues regarding control of a person's assets.

Why do I need to "probate a will"?

If there is ever any question about the validity of a will in the mind of a third party (a bank, credit union, investment company, life insurance company, or any other third-party), the will must be probated. In other words, the validity of the will must be proven to a court of law. After a court approves the validity of the will, the third party will then be comfortable in accepting the will.

Further, if there is ever any question in the mind of a third party about who is authorized to represent a deceased person, then a court must be petitioned to appoint a person who will be authorized to represent the deceased person. Only after a court appoints a person as the "personal representative" (known in other states as an executor), will the third party feel comfortable in working with that person.

Who can be appointed a personal representative?

Most often, those most closely related to the deceased individual are authorized and appointed as the deceased person's personal representative.

How much does informal probate cost?

The court filing fee in Utah is $360, with an added five dollar fees for filing various documents, so $365. We then charge a set fee of $1200. Other attorneys ask less. But remember, experience counts. Competent probate attorneys will charge about $1,200 to $1,500. So, the total fee, with court filing fees, is about $1,565 to $1,865.

These costs are paid from the deceased person's assets.

How long does informal probate take?

Informal probate can take as little as 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the particular judge. Sometimes, if there are various complications in contacting beneficiaries or heirs, or other complications arise, informal probate can take as long as three or four months.

Do all the beneficiaries need to be contacted?

Yes. The named or first level beneficiaries listed in a Will must all be notified about the informal probate proceedings.

Do the beneficiaries need to appear in court?


What if my benefactor died without a will?

If your benefactor died without a will, you beneficiaries will especially need to go through informal probate, asking the judge to appoint a personal representative to administer your benefactor's estate.

Are there any conflicts involved in probating a will?

Sometimes there are. If conflicts arise, the family then faces mediation or arbitration if the planning documents wisely require mediation or arbitration. Otherwise, the family faces probate litigation.


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