In Utah, the probate filing fees are $375.00. That isn’t the only cost or fees usually associated with a probate case however. If you are handling the estate of a loved one, you are probably wondering how much a probate action will cost. No two cases are identical, so there is no easy answer to this question, but below is some general guidance. You should never retain a lawyer without understanding how you will be billed. In Utah, a lawyer is not permitted to charge a percentage fee based on the assets of the estate. However, the personal representative is allowed to use estate funds to pay the lawyer’s fees. Some of the other costs related to a probate action include a court filing fee which must be paid to the court clerk at the time the probate is filed. If disputes arise within the probate case, you may be required to pay mediation fees in order to reach a settlement. There are some costs related to publishing notice of the probate to creditors in local newspapers. If the decedent owned real property or other valuable assets, an appraisal may be needed. Finally, if disputes cannot be settled and lawsuits are filed, there may be additional expenses. It is important to ask your lawyer to explain any anticipated costs so you know what to expect.
What’s The Difference between Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts?
If you are considering creating an estate plan, you are probably looking at using a trust. Trusts are very effective estate planning tools and they provide you with significant flexibility in ensuring your wishes are carried out. Additionally, a trust spares your family from the cost and delay of having your estate go through the probate process. A “living trust,” or one that is created while you are alive, can be revocable or irrevocable.
One of the primary purposes of creating a revocable trust is to avoid probate. However, in Utah the probate process is not nearly as burdensome as it is in many other states. However, there are still many other reasons for having a revocable trust, including:
• You can maintain control of your assets
• You can avoid a conservatorship if you should become incapacitated.
• You have the ability to change the terms of the trust during your lifetime, including the named beneficiaries or adding/removing assets from the trust
• You can revoke or cancel the trust
• You can maintain privacy with a trust
An irrevocable trust cannot be changed or revoked by you once the trust agreement has been finalized and signed. Thus, once the assets are transferred into the trust, you are no longer the owner of them because the trust holds title to them. An irrevocable trust can be helpful in a few important ways:
• The income to the trust may not be taxable to you as the trustee
• The assets in the trust may not be subject to death taxes in the estate of the trustee
• It allows you to leave an inheritance for minor children or other beneficiaries and control the timing and the circumstances under which they receive the money
• It can protect the trust assets from beneficiary’s creditors
With any type of trust, it is important to remember that the trust is not effective until it has been funded. This means you must transfer title to your real estate, bank accounts and other assets out of your individual name and into the trust’s name.
Utah Probate & Estate Administration
In Utah, when a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. If your loved-one owned his or her assets through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets. The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court. See our Utah Probate Guide. Every Utah probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
• Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
• Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
• Petition to appoint a Personal Representative (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate. The word “Personal Representative” is the same person as an “Executor”.
• Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by the Personal Representative/Administrator.
• Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors.
• Sale of estate assets.
• Payment of estate taxes, if applicable
• Final distribution of assets to heirs.
What happens if someone objects to the Will in Utah?
An objection to a Will, also known as a “Will contest” is a fairly common occurrence during the probate proceedings and can be incredibly costly to litigate. Fortunately, in Salt Lake County, objections during the preliminary probate process are referred to mandatory mediation. Mediation has a high success rate in resolving disputes which also saves money for the estate and ultimately the beneficiaries. Mediation is non-binding up until the point where a settlement agreement is signed by the parties. A settlement agreement is binding and enforceable. In order to contest a Will, one has to have legal “standing” to raise objections. This usually occurs when, for example children are to receive disproportionate shares under the Will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior will to a later will. In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, Will contests can be a quarrel over the person designated to serve as Executor. A more detailed guide to probate in Utah is located on our website here. Probate is primarily a process through which title is transferred from the name of the deceased to the names of the beneficiaries.
Certain types of assets are what is called “non-probate assets” do not go through probate. These include:
• Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and do not go through probate.
• Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
• Life insurance policies.
• Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
• Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.
Do I get paid for serving as a Personal Representative?
Personal Representatives are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the deceased estate. In addition, you may be entitled to statutory fees, which vary from location to location and on the size of the probate estate. The Personal Representative has to fulfil his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in his or her care. Due to the fact that a Personal Representative owes a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries, we advise that the Personal Representative retain an attorney and an accountant to advise and assist him with his or her duties. Kathie Brown Roberts P.C. routinely assists Personal Representatives in the administration of probate estates.
Court fees are dictated by state law and can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. It depends a great deal of the complexity of the estate and how many different forms must be filed. More complicated estates require more forms. The filing fee to open probate is typically a few hundred dollars. It’s the same for all estates in some states, while others charge on a graduated scale with more valuable estates paying more.
Executor fees are also dictated by state law, although decedents can specify in their wills just how much their nominated executor—also sometimes referred to as the personal representative—should be paid. State law will apply when a will is silent regarding this provision. Some states simply provide for a “reasonable fee” without citing a specific amount. Others set fees that are equal to a certain percentage of the value of the property being probated. A personal representative can ask for “extraordinary fees” for services rendered above and beyond basic probate duties. This might be the case if the decedent leaves a business that must be sold or otherwise transferred to beneficiaries.
These fees are also dictated by state law and they’re usually calculated in the same way as the personal representative’s fee. An attorney can also ask for “extraordinary fees” for services rendered above and beyond those that are deemed to be basic probate duties. Not all estates require an attorney, however. Less complicated estates would most likely not bear this cost.
These fees will vary depending on the overall value of the estate and the type of assets owned. A small estate that nonetheless owns 25 different stocks and bonds can generate more accounting fees than a larger estate that owns just a primary residence, a bank account, and a CD. Accounting fees can include the preparation and filing of estate tax returns if the estate is taxable at the state or federal level. Sometimes the attorney for the estate will prepare and file these returns.
Appraisals and Business Valuation Fees
Probate will require date-of-death values of real estate, business interests, and personal property, including assets like jewelery, antiques, artwork, boats, and cars. Appraisal fees for personal property can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, while business valuation fees will run several thousand dollars.
Your personal representative or executor will have to pay for and post a bond in an amount determined by the probate judge before they can be appointed. The estate usually pays for this. Some probate judges have required that bond be posted even when the estate has minor beneficiaries. You can waive the bond requirement in your last will and testament, but a judge might overrule your wishes if children are involved.
Miscellaneous fees can range from the cost of postage to insuring and storing personal property, shipping personal property, and more. You can count on these costs to eat up anywhere from 3% to 8% of the value of your assets. And this doesn’t include any estate and income taxes that might be due and payable during the course of the probate administration. Taxes can further deplete an estate.
Probate Court Fees
What is going on with Probate Court fees? Anyone with any skin in the game will take a step back at this point, 1,000-yard stare fixed in the distance, and slowly shake their head. For anyone who has managed to avoid the news for the past 18 months (well done you!), this concerns the proposed fee hike for probate cases (see this excellent Q&A for more information).
Astute commentators noted immediately that there is very little, if any, difference in the amount of work needed to issue a Grant of Representation in a multi-million-pound estate as compared to a multi-pound estate. As a fee should relate solely to the work done, this seemed very much more akin to a tax than a fee which could render the new fees outside of the lawful power of Parliament. Indeed, the Government themselves endorsed this view, stating that the increase was necessary to fund other services within the Courts and Tribunal System. Both the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the Law Society strongly objected to the new fees. Two separate committees of the House of Lords agreed and, ultimately, the plans were shelved. Realistically that should have been that. Undeterred however, the Government laid new legislation before Parliament in November 2018 designed to bring in the new fee regime on 1st April 2019. There have been some minor amendments. The same voices dissented for the same reasons. This time the statutory instrument has not yet received parliamentary scrutiny and the implementation has been delayed. Nevertheless, the official position is still that this is happening. If we were minded to gamble, we would suspect that the fee hike will be scrapped. Anyone with an eye on the Employment Tribunal fee fiasco will know what happens when fees are incorrectly inflated and are subsequently challenged. Still we receive a lot of enquiries from people concerned with avoiding the new fees. Unscrupulous operators are now hawking (at considerable expense) discretionary lifetime settlements as a vehicle to avoid probate fees. In fairness, they will avoid the fees but often at a much greater cost!
What is a filing fee?
A filing fee is the amount of money you must pay to the court to begin your court case. The amount of money you have to pay depends on the court and the type of case. You may have to pay other filing fees at certain times during your case. The court clerk can give you a list of all the filing fees for your court case so you know the total cost.
Do all court cases require filing fees?
Filing fees are usually not required in domestic violence cases. And, most courts do not require filing fees for family law cases such as child custody and child support. If you did not start the case, you do not have to pay filing fees. Each court is different, but other fees you may have to pay, even if you didn’t start the case, are:
• Service fee– the amount of money you pay to the sheriff or process server to serve or deliver the papers to the other side in your case.
• Witness fee– if you subpoena or call a witness to testify at trial, you will have to pay the witness a fee.
• Mediation fee– in some states, if you file a family law case that involves children, you may be charged a fee to have a mediator help you and the other parent of your child come to an agreement about your children.
• Appeal fee– the amount of money you pay to appeal or to ask a higher court to review your case to determine if the previous judge made any mistakes.
Utah probate Filing Fees
When you need legal help with probate in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506