The probate process is simply the legal way of taking care of a deceased person’s estate. Most of us have heard the stories about how long and what a headache the probate process usually is. Even with a will, it can take a week to months depending on the situation. However, most estates with a valid will in Utah can be settled very quickly. And, most estates can be probated without a will very quickly if all the heirs agree to how the estate is divided up.
The Probate Process
The probate process is the formal legal procedure that gives recognition to a will and appoints the executor or personal representative who will administer the estate and distribute assets to the intended beneficiaries. If there is no valid will in place, the estate is divided up according to Utah probate law.
So, the reality is that done right, the probate process for a house in Salt Lake City or anywhere in Utah can be as simple as four easy steps. The flip side is that both the process and the simplicity often open people up to certain probate scams. Let’s take a look.
Probate Process for a House in Utah
Without the right kind of a legal trust in place, probate usually follows a person’s passing if there are any assets or personal property to divide up among the heirs. Many times the probate process is necessary because the heirs need to sell an inherited house. Probate is the process by which the decedent’s debts are settled and his or her property is sold or transferred to beneficiaries and heirs. The heirs must go through the probate process to liquidate any property including a home and or a savings account.
Typically, the probate process follows four steps.
- The first step involves filing a petition with the probate court to admit the will and appoint an executor or, if there’s no will, to appoint a Personal Representative of the estate. A hearing date is set, and notice of the hearing is published locally.
- After being appointed by the court, the decedent’s personal representative gives notice to all creditors, and an inventory of the estate is made.
- After determining which claims are legitimate, the personal representative pays all expenses, debts, and taxes from the estate. Sometimes, this involves selling estate assets to meet obligations.
- Assets (legal title to a house, for instance) are disbursed according to the decedent’s wishes expressed in the will or, in case there is no will, according to the state’s intestate succession laws.
And that’s it for the probate process for a house in Utah and for the entire estate. Just be wary about any scams that may pop up along the way.
Common Probate Scams
These are some new twists on old scams that owe their re-birth (and effectiveness) chiefly to the Internet and email. They always, however, target the vulnerable which means the elderly. Sometimes the individual is targeted, and sometimes the estate is targeted.
- Probate Avoidance Scam – The perpetrators of this scam usually target the elderly. It involves persuading victims to buy fraudulent products that purport to help them avoid probate, for example, a very expensive living trust kit. Once the scammers have the money in their hands, they either never deliver or provide a product that is actually legally useless.
- Inheritance/Estate Tax Scam – Some states still levy an inheritance or estate tax. Using a trusted person’s or organization’s name, scammers contact potential executors/personal representatives informing them that they stand to inherit a bunch of money. The only catch is that – because in these states the tax must be paid before probate can go forward – the victims must first send the scammers an inflated tax.
- Fraudulent Listings Scam – This one owes its effectiveness to the popularity of sites like Craigslist for home shoppers, especially renters, and applies particularly to the probate process for a house in Salt Lake City. Scammers research the property of recently deceased individuals and advertise it for rent. Then, when the scammers collect the deposit and first month’s rent, they disappear, leaving the people engaged in probate to deal with the upset victim.
If you’re facing probate, especially the probate process for a house in Salt Lake City, it’s probably not as ominous and frightening as it first seems. Knowing what it involves and being aware of the common probate scams are good first steps – but there’s more to consider.
If you have a house you want to sell that needs to go through probate, I am here to help you. I can get an attorney to do the probate at no cost to you, and I will pay for the probate attorney.
Please call or text me at (801) 382-9199 or use the form for email.