How to Get Started with the Last Will and Testament in Utah
Who gets and who cares for your kids upon your demise? Who gets your stuff when you pass away? If you are thinking of getting a will in place, do you know how to go about it? Do you know what to do for the probate court to validate and respect your wishes in the will? Keep reading to answer these and many other lingering questions.
What is a will?
A last will and testament refers to the legal document you create to communicate your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your kids.
Unlike the living will which has your advance health directives and only executable in the event of incapacitation (mental or physical) ceasing power upon death, the last will controls the events around your kids and estate after death. In simple terms, the living will document passes the baton to the last will.
Tips to get you on the right path
Use an official document/ paper
We’ll say it again; napkins are not official wills. Even if all you need to write in a will is that you will leave your house to your best friend, you should write it down in a way that looks formal. We recommend downloading a free Utah last will and testament form online to get you started.
And note that your last will is only official if you sign it when you are adult (at least 18 years) and if you are of sound mind. You should have a minimum of 2 witnesses to attest to these conditions as is indicated in code section Tit. 75-2-501, et seq. of the law. An alternative to the 2 or 3 witnesses would be presenting the will and signing it at the notary public.
Ask for professional guidance when preparing a complex will
Do you know what to do to keep your assets in the family? What about asset distribution in a blended family set up? When in a complicated relationship or situation, you have to create a complex will but also ensure that the will is not open for a challenge after your demise. To do this, you seek help from an estate planning lawyer.
Complex wills facilitate the creation of trusts and protection of the interests of your business. However, you wouldn’t need an attorney if all you need to do is to share your assets equally among your kids.
You must name a guardian if you have kids – do this fast!
If there is something you should never overlook, the one thing that should prompt you to create a will let it be your kids. You care for their wellbeing, and the only way you could protect them is by naming a guardian, someone you trust to protect your kids. Some of the roles of the guardian include determining where your kids will stay, providing basic medical care and education. Even if you leave a huge inheritance for your kids, you should talk to the person you have in mind about the role they may have to take up if you passed. You may have to name a guardian for a dependent adult as well. While your family may want to take care of your kids, they may not have what you want for your kids’ guardian.
Name an executor
As the name suggests, the executor’s role is to execute your will. That means filing the will with the probate court and after its approval, managing your estate and distributing property. This should be someone you trust.
If you have to appoint co-executors, let them know that they should act or make unanimous decisions. You could also appoint an alternate executor.
Your will should be kept secure but accessible. So, let your loved ones know about its existence. Your free last will and testament in Utah is safe in a safety deposit box, a locked drawer or a safe. If you use an estate planning attorney, then they will have a copy. While you should try not to tell your loved ones about the contents of the will early on, just make its existence known.
Intestacy laws in Utah
The state will invoke the strict laws of intestacy for asset division if you don’t have a will at the time of your passing. Under these laws, the state determines that the surviving spouse inherits the entire estate even when you share kids. And if you have kids from a different relationship, the spouse inherits the first $75,000 of the intestate property and half of the remainder. Kids inherit the rest. In the absence of kids, a spouse or parents, the state rules for the estate to be inherited by siblings and grandparents.
Property exempted from distribution include the homestead allowance of the surviving spouse, any joint property with survivorship rights, elective share of the spouse, or exempt property up to $10,000. It also includes family allowances for the surviving spouse and the share of the child adopted or born after the execution of the will.
Ready to create a will in Ogden, St. George, Salt Lake City, Provo, Park City or any other city in Utah, download our free last will and testament forms today.