Wills and Trusts in Utah: What’s the Difference?

by Norris Law Group on June 6, 2014

Wills and Trusts in Utah: What’s the Difference?A will is a legal document in which you lay out how you would like your “worldly goods” and other assets distributed upon your death. Each state has its own set of specific requirements for a will.  In order for a Utah will to be valid, two witnesses must see you sign the will, and the witnesses must sign it as well. Utah wills do not need to be notarized.

You only need onewill, but several types of wills are available to Utahans, including:

  • Simple will.  A simple will sets up the distribution of your assets to a single beneficiary (often a spouse, a child or a parent).
  • Complex will. As the name implies, complex wills are a bit more involved than simple wills. Complex wills may include a group of heirs (blood relatives who are to receive assets from the will), and devisees or legatees (non-relatives who will receive property based on the stipulations in the will, or organizations, such as non-profits, schools, etc.).
  • Holographic wills. A holographic will is another name for a “handwritten will,” and need not be witnessed. Holographic wills are legal in Utah, but they may be susceptible to probate actions in court.
  • Will with testamentary trust. A will with testamentary trust may be used in lieu of a trust, but may not be the wisest choice. A trust may be a far superior asset protection instrument.
  • Pourover will. Pour-over wills are used in conjunction with a revocable living trust. Provided that the living trust was funded properly, probate may not be necessary if the will covers assets of less than $100,000 and no real estate. But if the trust was not funded properly, a pour-over will automatically “pours over” the assets from the will into a revocable living trust.

A trust or revocable living trust gives the responsibility of managing your personal assets to a trustee or trustees.  “Living” means that you were alive when the trust was set up, and “revocable” means that the trust may be changed at any point during your lifetime at your discretion (if you are of sound mind). If you initiate a trust, you are referred to as the trust’s grantor. It is wise to include yourself as a trustee of your own revocable living trust; that way, you keep full control of the trust and the assets in it throughout your lifetime. Your current spouse should also be a trustee. Beneficiaries of your trust may include your children, your parents or other loved ones. Organizations such as charities, hospitals or schools may also be named as beneficiaries of your trust.

A will combined with a revocable living trust will guarantee that your assets will be distributed based on your individual wishes upon your passing, and should also reduce the likelihood that your estate will go into probate.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of asset protection. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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