Validity of a Utah Last Will and Testament

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

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Validity of a Utah Last Will and Testament

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What law determines if a last will and testament was validly executed in Utah?

When a last will and testament is presented for probate in Utah, the court must first determine whether the will is valid. Key in determining whether the will is valid is the question of whether the will was lawfully executed. Utah Code 75-2-502 provides the requirements for validly executing a typed or holographic will.  Utah Code 75-2-503 may provide some exceptions for written instruments that are intended as wills, even if the writing does not meet all of the requirements for a last will and testament.

Utah law also provides that a will which does not conform with Utah’s current requirements for the execution of a will may still be considered valid if it was executed in compliance with the law at the time of execution of the place where the will was executed, or of the law of the place where, at the time of execution or at the time of death, the testator was domiciled, had a place of abode, or was a national.

While these exceptions can provide a safety net in some circumstances, failure to follow Utah’s legal requirements for executing a will may result in a document that will not be recognized by a Utah probate court. Rather than hoping for an exception, it is best to consult with a Utah estate planning attorney before executing a will. While there are many free or inexpensive sources for estate planning documents online or in various other publications, none of these sources can replace personalized legal advice from an estate planning attorney.

For some people, a living trust may help to avoid the need to file a probate action in Utah. Through the use of a living trust, a decedent’s estate can often be managed, distributed, or administered completely without the intervention of a probate court.