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Wills / Trusts / Probates

Written by: Tyler

An excerpt of the typical conversations I have had lately goes something like this:

Me: So, how are you planning on dividing your assets and personal belongs in the case of your untimely death?

Me: So, how are you planning on dividing your assets and personal belongs in the case of your untimely death?

Them: Oh, I don’t know, I’m sure my family knows who I would want to have what.

Me: So you have a will? That’s great!

Them: Well, not a written one, but we’ve talked about it.

Unfortunately, the majority of people do not have any documents formalizing their estate plan. In which case, their estate goes to intestate succession. In intestacy, the state determines how the assets of your estate are divided. While this is not an arbitrary process, the results rarely, if ever, distribute the estate as the decedent (the person who died) would have wished.

“But my family knows what I would want done, we’ve talked about it.” Sadly, this estate would still go into intestacy for distribution. Utah law requires a written distribution plan. This law, which may come across as another burden, is actually very sensible. In many cases, a well written will has protected family unity and harmony after mom and dad pass. It is clear, and spells out how the financial assets are to be divided, it is clear who gets mom’s wedding silver, who gets grandpa’s antique pocket watch, and who gets great grandma’s china.

A written will is especially important if you have step children or foster children, who under intestacy are excluded from the definition of the term “child” so they do not have any inheritance rights. If you are living with your partner, and not married to them, intestacy would exclude your partner, not only from your estate, but also from making critical medical, financial, or legal decision on your behalf.

So while talking about these things is certainly a good idea, it is simply not enough to ensure your wishes.

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