Rogers Estate Planning

Probate Steps
POAs and UAHDs
Getting Started
Estate Planning Terminology
Probate Steps
About Jon H. Rogers
Contact Us

What is Probate?
What is a Personal Representative?

Probate is the process of administering the estate of a deceased person, generally through a probate court.  A personal representative for the decedent (deceased person) and the decedent's estate can only be appointed by the probate court.  The probate court, in disputed matters, also determines who is entitled to the various assets of the estate.  Under Utah law, the personal representative for the deceased is given certain authority and obligations in connection with the administration of the estate.  Essentially, the personal representative is responsible to gather information and account for all assets and liabilities of the estate, to notify creditors, to pay debts and taxes (including the sale of property, if necessary), to notify heirs or potential heirs, to recover monies owed to the estate, and then to distribute the remainder of the estate to those entitled by will, or if there is no will, to those entitled under the laws of intestate succession.

Formal probate through a probate court is not necessarily a difficult or expensive process, although it can be expensive in disputed or more complicated matters.  Formal probate can have several befits for the estate and heirs including, but not limited to, providing a cutoff date for creditors to make claims (after proper notification to the creditors), after which date said claims are barred.  Additionally, certain tax elections for the estate of a decedent are available only to the personal representative who, as stated, must be appointed by the probate court.  Finally, probate can provide clear title to property.


1.  Opening documents are prepared and filed [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-301, 75-3-401].

2.  Notice of the probate is given to the decedent's surviving heirs and devisees [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-306, 75-3-310, 75-3-403].

3.  Personal representative is appointed.  As evidence of the personal representatives' authority, the court issues letters testamentary (if decedent had a valid will) or letters of administration (if decedent did not have a valid will) to the personal representative.  The letters testamentary or letters of administration are needed to prove to the third parties that a probate has been initiated and that the personal representative has the authority to gather and otherwise deal with a decedent's assets [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-307, 75-3-414, 75-3-704].

4.  Will is validated by the probate court.  Will is then said to have been probated [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-302, 75-3-409].

5.  Notice is given to creditors.  The personal representative mails written notice of the probate to all known creditors and publishes notice of the probate in a local newspaper for the benefit of all unknown creditors.  Creditors must file their claims with the personal representative or their claims are barred.  Creditors who receive actual notice have until sixty (60) days from when the notice was mailed or three (3) months after notice in the newspaper was first published, whichever is later, to file their claims.  Other creditors have until three (3) months after notice was first published [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-801, 75-3-803].

6.  Notice is given to IRS.  The personal representative notifies the IRS of appointment [Internal Revenue Code [IRC] § 6903; Treas. Reg. § 301.6903-1].

7.  Estate checking account is opened.  The personal representative applies with the IRS for a federal employer identification number [FEIN] for the estate.  After the FEIN is issued, the personal representative opens an estate checking account.

8.  Inventory is prepared.  The personal representative prepares an inventory of the decedent's property owned at death [U.C.A. § 75-3-705].

9.  Creditors' claims are paid or disallowed.  After the deadline for creditors to file their claims has expired, the personal representative pays valid claims and mails notice of disallowed claims [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-805 through 75-3-807].

10.  Tax returns are filed and taxes paid.  The personal representative files the decedent's final income tax return and pays the income tax due.  The personal representative also files tax returns and pays any tax due for any applicable estate tax, gift tax, estate income tax, and generation skipping transfer tax.

11.  Estate assets may need to be sold.  If necessary, the personal representative sells estate assets for cash to pay debts and taxes.

12.  Accounting is prepared.  Unless waived [U.C.A. § 75-3-1003(3)], the personal representative prepares a final accounting for the estate [U.C.A. § 75-3-1001 through 75-3-1003].

13.  Final distributions are made and the estate is closed.  After all applicable creditors' claims and taxes are paid and the accounting is prepared, the personal representative is ready to make final distributions and close the estate.  In connection with the final distributions, the legal documents necessary close the estate are prepared and filed with the probate court [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-1001 through 75-3-1003].

14.  Personal representative is discharged.  When the estate has been fully distributed, the personal representative can obtain an order from the probate court discharging the personal representative from any further liability to the decedent's beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors [U.C.A. §§ 75-3-1001 through 75-3-1002].  If the personal representative closes the estate informally, then the personal representative can obtain a certificate from the court stating that the personal representative appears to have fully administered the estate.

Jon H. Rogers, Attorney at Law * 825 North 300 West, Suite N144 * Northgate Park Business Center * Salt Lake City * Utah * 84103 Phone: (801) 532-6272 Fax: (801) 532-4192