Selling an estate in Utah can be simple or complicated, fast or slow-depending on how well the deceased was organized before his or her death. An ‘estate’ can be a $20,000 mobile home, a condo and two rental properties or a 24-plex rental unit with a million dollar mansion down the street. Regardless of the type of property in question, the goal of the heir(s) is to abide by the deceased’s wishes according to the law.
I recall a friend of mine who told me at lunch one day that her father had finally passed after a long, painful illness. She and her siblings had gone through the home over the weekend and gone through his possessions. She wanted to give me the news in person that he had died, as I had known him-and he had wanted me to sell the house.
I asked, “Did your dad put the property in a trust before he died?” “No”, she answered. I looked up the address in the public records on my IPad and we could both see that he and her deceased mom were both the owners of record. I then asked, “Have you spoken to your attorney about how long he thinks probate will take?” She replied, “Oh, we don’t need an attorney. My brothers and sisters are all in agreement to sell the home and split the proceeds equally between us after it closes. What’s probate?”
In this case, the estate had to go to Probate Court because that was what the law required. Probate is basically where a judge ensures that there is a legal and orderly transfer of the property of the estate of her dad. There are safeguards put forth in the law to make sure the debts and taxes are paid (if possible) and resolve who is entitled to what assets, and how to disburse the property accordingly. It can be a quick or very long process, inexpensive or very expensive to the estate/heirs.
Luckily, most of the people I work with have planned much better and the process becomes more of a filling in of the legal pieces of verifying signatures and the rights to sign and transfer. Either way, I can recommend the best professionals to help you do the right thing.