If any real property, deeded property, or any property of significant value was held in the name of the deceased person at the time of their death, you may need to file probate in a court where the person passed away. Having an upfront knowledge of the probate process you will undergo in appointing an executor is important for many reasons. Aside from assuring that the executor appointment is lawful, if the estate holds assets that will need to be disposed of such as real estate or financial accounts, having an understanding of the executor appointment process can help to manage everyones' expectations.
However, sometimes it is not necessary to appoint an executor in the first place...
In the case of a small estate with a value of less than $100,000 and no more than 4 motor vehicles, it is not always necessary to appoint an executor in a court proceeding. Utah provides for small estate administration using a small estate affidavit. Keep in mind that property held in a trust or property that automatically passes pursuant to a beneficiary designation is not considered to be held in the decedent's name.
More information on Small Estates
If the estate of your loved one does not qualify as a small estate, you will need to file a probate. Learn and understand the process for appointing an executor of the estate before proceeding.
Utah courts allow for the probate of estates in either formal or informal probate proceedings. Determining whether to use formal or informal probate procedures is an important decision that should not be made without a clear understanding of these two options.
The numerous filings required to appoint an executor can seem daunting. The required filings differ depending upon whether a formal or informal probate process is used. Review the Executor Appointment Filings Matrix to assist you in determining which filings are appropriate to appoint an executor:
Whether an executor is from out-of-town or is too busy to do everything herself, administering an estate can be difficult for one person to handle. Where a probate has been filed in court, it may become necessary to motion the court to appoint another executor to serve together with the original appointee as co-executor. Whether the beneficiaries all agree on who should serve as co-executor or not, the process of appointing a co-executor requires court filings or even court hearings. Discuss the specifics of appointing a co-executor with your attorney.
If probate was not filed in a court, appointment of a co-executor must be carried out in accordance with the will. Generally, this requires notification of all the beneficiaries and interested parties, as well as the agreement of the acting executor and acceptance of appointment by the new co-executor. Review the will with an attorney to ensure you you comply with the will's requirements for appointing an additional executor.
Before a new executor can be appointed, it is often necessary to remove a previous executor. Ensure compliance with the terms of the will.
Executors can face liability from multiple sides - motions for removal or alternate appointment may need to be handled. Beneficiaries may raise an issue with the executor's administration decisions.
Many executors also find themselves managing a family trust and needing to seek appointment as Successor Trustee. Although an executor can consummate business on behalf of the estate, they cannot on behalf of the trust.