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What Constitutes A Legal Will In Utah?

What Constitutes A Legal Will In Utah

A will is a legal form of documentation containing information about how the estate of an individual should be divided after he or she passes on. Your wishes and preferences concerning the management of your property are included in the will. According to the law in Utah, your will should have your official signature and be done in the presence of witnesses. For a will to be legal, three key elements should be addressed and clearly stipulated before its executed. These statute requirements ensure that the document is genuine and a true expression of the testator’s intentions.

You will be able to find the requirements for a legal will under the Utah code section 75-2-501. The prerequisites are for the document itself as well as the person writing the testament. The person creating the will is legally referred to as a “testator”. A testator should satisfy certain legal conditions for the will to be acknowledged under the descent and distribution laws of Utah.

What are the requirements for a competent testator?

The testator should be of legal age. The legal age requirement for creating a will is 18 years and above. The state recognizes a competent testator who is within the legal age limit as an adult. This is someone who is recognized as being capable of making decisions regarding the different aspects of his or her life. An adult is in charge of his/her property and can, therefore, distribute it as he/she so pleases.

An individual who is below the age requirement does not qualify to create a will. If such a minor dies intestate, the property will then be distributed as stipulated by the laws of descent and distribution. The laws of the state of Utah do not recognize any will created by a minor and so one should wait to reach the minimum age of 18 years before creating a will.

The testator should be of sound mind

The person making a will should have testamentary capacity. This means that the testator should be mentally fit and of sound mind. The individual should be able to grasp the nature of his/her available property, all the physical objects in his/her estate and the conditions of his testamentary act. The testator should be able to link all the aspects of the will by having a full understanding that his/her property will be distributed in a given way depending on his/her conditions.

An incompetent testator who has some form of mental incompetence can be recognized by a and confirmed by a certified medical practitioner. Such a testator might be delusional in distributing his/her estate due to a mental disorder. Factors such as advanced age, illiteracy and physical disability do not deny an individual testamentary capacity though are usually considered when combined with other elements in that particular case. For instance, in Utah, a testator suffering from a disease such as Alzheimer’s can be declared to be of sound mind if at the time of will signing they are lucid.

Requirements of the will that makes it legal

The provisions of a will are clearly stated in the Utah code section 75-2-502.

Will should be in writing

Your will should be in print form to enable it to be legally recognized by the state judicial system of Utah. A tangible form of your wishes on how your estate should be distributed allows the court to acknowledge your document. A will made in the form of a video or tape recorder is not legally valid and can affect the handling of an estate when one dies. The will can either be typewritten using modern applications such as PDF or MS word. It can also be handwritten (holographic) as long as the testator does the writing. In the event where the testator is unable to write the document on their own due to an illness or illiteracy, then someone else can do it for them.

Official signature of the testator

You should first keenly read through the document to make sure that your wishes are clearly stated in the will. You should place your initials on each page of the document at the bottom corner. This is to prevent any altering of the pages after the Testament has been signed. You will then have to sign your full names on the last page to make the will legal.


The law requires that you legalize your will by signing it in the presence of at least two witnesses. The witnesses should also place their signatures on the document as proof of their presence. You should carefully choose your witnesses based on the stipulations of the law. The following should be adhered to when selecting your witnesses.

● Witnesses should not be beneficiaries of the will

● Should not be a spouse to any of the beneficiaries during the time of will signing

● Should not be below 18 years

● Should be of sound mind

You should first gather your witnesses in one place for the signing process. You can begin by making a formal statement by telling about the signing of the will. The witnesses do not have to go through the contents of the will. All that is required from them is to bear witness you signing the document. The witnesses should also sign their initials on every page.

Who are the beneficiaries of a will?

According to the law, a testator has the right to allocate property and the entire estate to whoever he so chooses. A beneficiary can be an organization, either a private establishment or a government corporation. An individual can also be a beneficiary with some testators leaving their properties to pets. The only limitation you have when choosing a beneficiary is that you cannot include any of your witnesses in the will.

Several beneficiaries

If your will has multiple beneficiaries then you will have to come up with ways in which the property will be distributed. Depending on your preference you might decide to divide your estate in the following ways;

– Equitable distribution of the assets. This happens when you want to allocate your property to all the beneficiaries evenly. For instance, one might decide to distribute the estate to all the children equally.

– Uneven distribution of property. Some beneficiaries will receive more than others, depending on how the testator deems appropriate. A good example is when 75% of the estate is left to the spouse and the rest to the children.

– Selling the property and distributing the profits. One might require that the property in the testator’s name be sold and the proceeds to be allocated as stated in the will.

What is the role of an attorney in making a will?

Though one can create their own will, it is usually vital to seek legal advice from an experienced professional. When dealing with a large estate, it is essential to know the law provisions in regards to estate taxes and other legal fees. The following are some of the instances that will require a probate attorney.

Disinheriting a beneficiary

Disinheritance occurs when the testator decides to leave out an heir in the will. Cutting off an individual from your will means that they will not be entitled to a portion of your property. A testator might decide to disinherit a beneficiary from a will due to the following reasons;

– Failure to update the will

– When the testator assumes that the beneficiary is not financially responsible

– The heir neglected them in the past by avoiding communication.

– The heir is financially well of; hence, does not require inheritance.

– The heir was supportive and neglected care.

Fear that your will might be contested

Contesting a will involves someone stepping forward and challenging the validity of the document. Your lawyer will look into your will to ensure that there will be no grounds for contesting the testament. The following are some of the grounds under which a will might be challenged.

● A will can be contested if disinheritance is seen to have been accidental.

● Failure to include a spouse who has the right to the testator’s property

● Failure to execute the will according to Utah laws

● The testator was mentally incapacitated and was therefore delusional

● Influence by a beneficiary or a third party when dividing the property

● If the will is believed to have been executed as a result of fraud

If you are a business owner

An attorney will provide relevant guidelines that will enable you to set the specifications for the ownership share. Adhering to the law will ensure that your beneficiaries receive what is due to them.

Arrangements for a disadvantaged beneficiary

If part of your will stipulates that a beneficiary should be looked after, then your lawyer will be able to see it all through. If you require proper care to be given to a disadvantaged child or one who is disabled, then insight from a lawyer is crucial.

Probate attorneys work to ensure that your Testament is followed as per your wishes. You will also prevent family conflict when you include your lawyer in the execution of your will.

Why should I have a will?

The importance of having a will looks into the welfare of your family as well as your business when you no longer live. Having a proper plan in the distribution of your property by including beneficiaries as well as your executor allows the smooth running of the property. The following are some of the reasons why having a will is essential.

Prevention of intestate succession

Intestate succession laws are responsible for deciding who among the family members inherits what amount. Such laws are usually executed in the owner of the estate did not have a will. Priority is generally given to the spouse, the offsprings or parents of the deceased.

More than just distribution of property

You can use your will for more than just distributing assets. Your will can contain the names of the guardians for your children as well as your property. You can also create a trust for your offsprings to that will help them as they grow. You can forgive debts in your will by stipulating the nature of the debt, including the amount and the name of the individual or organization involved.

Less conflict in the family

Family members might differ on what one might have wanted in regards to the distribution of property. When a will is put in place, then the family does not have conflict about who gets what and why. Speculations are reduced as relatives accept the wishes of their loved one, knowing that the contents of the will were the wishes of the deceased.

Fewer taxes

A will helps lower the amount of estate taxes to be paid by your family when you die. When you distribute your estate to family members, they will be required to pay less as compared to intestate succession.


Donations, as stated in a will, allows one’s legacy to continue as per the preferences and values of the testator. You can gift a charity organization of your choice a particular amount form your estate that will go a long way in leaving a mark in this world.

Adjustments are possible

You can always make adjustments to your will as long as you are alive and of sound mind. As you go through life changes such as marriage, children and divorce, you can change the will as you see fit.

Prevent a long probate process

The presence of a will quickens the probate process by informing the court how the property should be divided. Lack of a will lengthens the process by through court delays as it decides who in the family should receive what percentage of the estate.

Tomorrow is unknown, and death is inevitable because that is what makes life precious. A will allows you to plan for the eventualities of life when you are gone. Seek the professional advice of a probate attorney who will take you through all the requirements of making a will.

Legal Will Attorney In Utah Free Consultation

When you need legal help with a last will and testament in Utah, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help you with Health Care Powers of Attorney. Durable General Power of Attorney. Revocable Living Trust. Wills. Estate Planning. Estate Administration. Trust Administration. Probate Cases. Disputed Estates. Will Contests. Estate Lawsuits. And more. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506