Estate Planning Terms and Definitions

Stephen Howard — Stone River Law

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Estate Planning Terms and Definitions

Understanding key terms and concepts involved in the estate planning process is an important part of establishing a personalized estate plan. The following are general definitions and information about legal terminology involved in the estate planning and probate processes. For more information, for assistance in understanding various estate planning tools, and for help in creating an estate plan tailored to meet your personal needs, goals, and circumstances, contact us today.

Alphabetical Listing of Utah Estate Planning Terms

AB Trust: An AB trust is a kind of revocable living trust sometimes used by married couples to try to maximize the personal estate tax exemption of each spouse. Upon the death of the first spouse, the trust is split into two separate trusts (trust A and trust B). Trust A, sometimes referred to as the marital deduction trust, becomes irrevocable on the death of the first spouse, and can be used to distribute estate assets to the couple’s heirs. Trust B, sometimes referred to as the shelter trust, continues to hold the assets belonging to the surviving spouse.

Administrator: An administrator (or administratrix) is responsible to manage and distribute an estate after a person’s death. The term “administrator” is sometimes used interchangeably with “executor” or “personal representative.” In some states, an administrator is appointed by a probate court to distribute an estate when the person died intestate (without a will), whereas an executor is the person nominated in a will to distribute the estate. Under Utah law, the term “personal representative” is used for any person charged with managing and distributing an estate, whether nominated by a will or appointed by a court for in intestate estate.  Executors, administrators, special administrators, successor personal representatives, and any person performing substantially the same function can be referred to as “personal representatives.”

In Utah, a probate court will issue Letters of Administration to an administrator appointed in an probate case where the decedent died intestate; Letters Testamentary are issued to a personal representative under a last will and testament. Each of these (Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration) provide essentially the same authority.

Adult Guardianship: Under the Utah probate code, an adult guardianship can be created when a court determines that the proposed adult ward is incapacitated as a result of mental illness, physical illness or disability, mental deficiency, chronic use of drugs, chronic intoxication, or other reason to a degree that the person lacks sufficient understanding or ability to make or communicate responsible decisions. A court may order a full guardianship or a limited guardianship. A limited guardianship is preferred and is more appropriate in cases where the ward is able to make some decisions on his or her own behalf, but is not capable of managing all of his or her affairs.  

Advance Health Care Directive: Sometimes referred to as a “living will” or “advance medical directive,” a Utah advance health care directive allows you to make certain decisions regarding your health care and end-of-life medical care, and to authorize another person to carry out those decisions in the event that you are incapacitated or otherwise unable to make or communicate your decisions. In Utah, an advance health care directive can serve the same functions as both a medical power of attorney and living will.

Ancillary Probate: a term that refers to a probate action initiated in a state other than the deceased’s primary residence. An ancillary probate action is used to deal with property held in a state other than the deceased’s place of residence.  For example, if a person lived in California, but owned vacation property in Utah, the primary probate would occur in California, but an ancillary probate action would be filed in Utah to name the personal representative and issue letters testamentary so that the property in Utah could be distributed to the heirs of the deceased.

Attorney: The term attorney refers to a person who is authorized to act on behalf of another person. Under Utah law, a distinction is made between an “attorney in fact” and an “attorney at law.” An attorney at law is a person trained in the law and admitted to practice law under the rules of the Utah Supreme Court and Utah State Bar. An attorney in fact is a person who has been given specific authorization from another person to act on their behalf. This authorization is usually given by means of a written document referred to as a “power of attorney” (“POA”). The person entitled to act under a power of attorney is commonly referred to as an “agent.”

Beneficiary: A person or organization entitled to receive income or assets from a trust. Under Utah law, the term beneficiary can also refer to a person or organization named in a will as receiving property after the death of the testator. The beneficiaries of your will are not necessarily the same as your heirs. The term “heirs” refers to those people who would be entitled to inherit your property if you died intestate (without a will). By writing a will and/or trust and naming specific beneficiaries, you can choose exactly who will be entitled to inherit your estate.

Bond: an insurance policy intended to insure that a legal representative or fiduciary (e.g., a trustee or personal representative) does not misuse the money or other assets under his control. Under Utah law, a cash bond may also be posted. When you are making a will or establishing a trust in Utah, you may specify either that the personal representative or trustee may serve without bond, or require that a bond be posted. Many probate estates are handled without posting a bond. But you should consult with a Utah estate planning attorney in determining whether a bond should be required.

By Right of Representation: a modern term used in place of the Latin term “per stirpes.” In Utah, when property in an estate is distributed by right representation, each branch of the family receives the same amount. For example, a will instructed that the estate was to be distributed by right of representation to the testator’s children and the has three children who survive him, each child would receive one third of the estate. If only two of the children survived the testator, and the third child had two surviving children of his own (the testator’s grandchildren), each of the two surviving children of the testator would still receive their one-third share of the estate while the two grandchildren would each receive half of the third child’s share of the estate (a one-sixth share of the testator’s estate). When an estate is to be distributed by right of representation, it is sometimes said that the descendants of a deceased heir “stand in the shoes of” the deceased heir.

Charitable Trust: Section 75-7-103 of the Utah Uniform Trust Code defines a “charitable trust” as a trust, or a portion of a trust, which is created for one of the purposes described in under Utah Code Ann. 75-7-405(1), which include the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, the promotion of health, governmental or municipal purposes, or “other purposes the achievement of which is beneficial to the community.”

Child: In addition to its ordinary definition, the term child as used in Utah estate planning law will generally include adopted children. Adopted children generally have the same rights to inherit as do biological children. Under the Utah Uniform Probate Code, the term child does not include a stepchild, foster child, grandchild, or any other more remote descendant. However, in writing your will and/or trust, you can include specific provisions that allow a stepchild or other person to be treated and given the same legal rights as if they had been born to you.

Codicil: A codicil is a written document executed by a person who has already made a will. Under Utah law, a codicil cannot act by itself, but can be used to modify or make additions, subtractions, or other changes to a pre-existing will. A codicil can be used to revoke a part a will, or to place conditions on the distribution of the estate. A codicil can make changes to a will without requiring that the entire will be re-executed. The codicil must reference and identify by date the will which it modifies. The same formalities required in executing a will must be followed in executing a codicil, or the codicil will not be recognized as valid in Utah.

Codicils are not used as frequently today as they were historically. A codicil historically allowed a person to make changes to his or her will without requiring that an entirely new will be written. With modern computer technology, the process of modifying and re-printing a will is much easier. Utah law still recognizes a validly executed codicil. But to avoid confusion, it is often advisable to void or revoke any earlier will and create an entirely new copy of the modified will.

Community Property: under the laws of some states, property acquired by one spouse during a marriage automatically belongs to both spouses equally, with certain limited exceptions. The use of the term “property” in this context includes both real estate and personal property. States who have adopted this law are considered “community property” states. Utah is not a community property state. However, if you acquired property while living in a community property state and then move to Utah, that property may still be subject to the community property laws of the state where you formerly resided. If you have lived in a community property state, you may need to address issues relating to community property when you make a will or create a trust in Utah.

Conservator: Under Utah law, a conservator is a person who is appointed by a court to manage the financial affairs (including property, bank accounts, and other assets) of a protected person – a minor or of an adult who is found by the court to be incapacitated. In Utah, the person appointed as the conservator may also be appointed as the guardian (either of a minor or of an incapacitated adult), or the conservator and guardian may be separate individuals.

Death Tax: a term sometimes used to refer to a tax imposed on property that is transferred upon a person’s death, either by will or by trust. The term is most often used in reference to the federal estate tax. As of 2017, Utah does not impose an estate tax.

Decedent: In Utah estate planning, the term decedent refers simply to the person who has died. Another term often used to refer to a person who has died is testator. Technically, the term testator refers specifically to a person who has left a valid will prior to death, whereas decedent refers to any person who has died, whether with a will or intestate.

Deed: A deed is a legal document used to transfer or convey title in Utah real property to another person. A properly written deed can contribute to the smooth operation of a Utah estate plan, by transferring ownership to you in a way that will avoid probate. The most common way that a deed is used to avoid probate is when a husband and wife hold title to real property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. This means that when one spouse dies, the surviving spouse automatically assumes full ownership of the property without the need to file for probate. On the other hand, if the deed is not correctly drafted, the language of the deed can trigger the necessity of filing a probate action. Also, the use of a deed in this way will only avoid probate for the first spouse. Without taking other estate planning steps, a Utah probate proceeding will be necessary after the second spouse dies.

Descendant: includes all of a person’s descendants of all generations who have a relationship of parent and child (i.e., children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.). The terms ‘parent’ and ‘child’ have the meaning defined in the Utah probate code (Utah Code Ann. Title 75). The term ‘descendant’ has the same meaning as the term ‘issue.’

Devise: The term devise in Utah estate planning law, when used as a verb, means to give, transfer, or otherwise dispose of personal property or real property through a will. When used as a noun, it refers to a testamentary (through a will) disposition of real or personal property. A devisee is one who is designated in a will to receive a devise.

Devisee: a person who is entitled to receive property from a decedent’s estate under the terms of a will. The term “heir” is often used interchangeably with the term “devisee.” More precisely, under Utah law the term “heir” refers to a person who is entitled to receive property under Utah’s intestacy laws from the estate of a person who has died without a will.

Disability: for purposes of the Utah probate code, means a condition that can serve as cause (or reason) for a protective order (such as a conservatorship), and can include minority, or a condition that prevents a person from being able to manage the person’s own property or affairs effectively, such as mental illness, physical illness or disability, chronic use of drugs or alcohol, confinement, detention by a foreign power, or disappearance.

Distributee: includes any person who receives property from a decedent through his personal representative, but does not include creditors or purchasers of such property. A testamentary trustee is considered a distributee under the Utah probate code only to the extent that distributed assets remain in his hands. A beneficiary of a testamentary trust who receives distributions from that trust is considered to be a distributee of the personal representative.

Durable Power of Attorney: a power of attorney is a document by which a person may authorize another person to act in their behalf. Under Utah law, a durable power of attorney differs from an ordinary power of attorney in that it continues to be effective even if the person granting the power of attorney becomes incapacitated. There is a common misconception that a durable power of attorney can be used to distribute a person’s property after the person’s death. This is incorrect, as all powers of attorney become ineffective upon the death of the person giving the power of attorney

Escheat: Under the common law doctrine of escheat, when property is not covered by a valid will or trust, and no heirs can be identified who are eligible to inherit the property through intestate succession, ownership of the property reverts to the government. If there are no “takers” under a Utah will, section 75-2-105 of the Utah Uniform Probate Code governing intestate succession requires that the intestate estate pass to the state for the benefit of the state school fund. If heirs exist but cannot be located, then the intestate estate property may be dealt with under the Utah Unclaimed Property Act.

Estate: refers to all property (real property and personal property) owned by the decedent whether being passed through a will or by a trust or otherwise subject to the Utah probate code. The term “estate” is sometimes used to include liabilities or debts owed by the decedent as well as assets.

Estate Tax Exemption: As of 2017, federal estate tax law provides an exemption for assets of an individual’s estate nearly $5.5 million. An “AB trust” was previously often used to allow married couples to transfer up to twice the federal estate tax exemption to their heirs without incurring the federal estate tax. Under current law, a surviving spouse is allowed to add the unused portion of the deceased spouse’s estate tax exemption to the surviving spouse’s estate tax exemption. This can allow married couples to transfer up to $10.5 million to their heirs without incurring a federal estate tax debt and without the use of an AB trust. However, this technique may not avoid state estate taxes in states that impose one.

(As of 2017, Utah does not impose an estate tax. However, both federal and state tax law is subject to frequent change. You should speak to an attorney for current information and advice on how estate taxes may affect your estate plan.)

Estate Tax: sometimes referred to as a “death” tax, the federal estate tax is a tax on your right to transfer property at your death. Federal estate tax applies to property in your estate whether it is transferred by will or by trust. As of 2017, federal estate tax law includes an individual exemption of nearly $5.5 million, and a tax rate of 40% for estates beyond the exemption.

Executor: An executor (or executrix) is the person appointed to manage, settle, and distribute an estate. Traditionally, an executor was named in a will whereas an administrator was appointed by a court to manage the estate of a person who died intestate. Under Utah law, the term “personal representative” includes both executors and administrators. The personal representative is responsible to pay the debts of the estate, manage property or assets of the estate, and ultimately distribute the estate to the heirs of the decedent.

Family Trust: although Utah trust and probate statutes do not specifically define a “family” trust, the term usually refers to a living trust that is created to benefit people you are related to, either by blood, by marriage, or by law.

Fiduciary: a person or institution in a position of trust, responsible for managing assets for the benefit of another person; under Utah probate law, the term fiduciary is specifically defined as including a personal representative, guardian, conservator, and trustee.

Formal Proceedings: proceedings under the Utah probate code which are conducted before a judge and require notice to interested parties. Contrast with “informal proceedings” which are typically conducted by a registrar and do not require notice.

Grantor: the person who gives, donates, or otherwise places property into a trust to be held for the benefit of some person, group, or other entity. Under Utah law, a grantor may also serve as a trustee, and can be a beneficiary of the trust. A grantor is also sometimes referred to as a settlor or founder.

Grantor Trust: a grantor trust is one in which the grantor retains a certain level of control over the trust corpus. For federal income tax purposes, property held in a grantor trust is treated by the IRS as though it were owned by the grantor. The level of control retained by the grantor is considered in determining whether the trust will be considered to be a grantor trust. The grantor’s reservation of the right to revoke or terminate the trust is considered sufficient by itself to make the trust a grantor trust.

Guardian: includes a person who has been qualified to manage the affairs of a minor or incapacitated person through either a testamentary or court appointment under the Utah probate code, or by a written instrument under Utah Code Ann. 75-5-202.5. The term “guardian” as used in the Utah probate code does not include a guardian ad litem. Under the Utah probate code, a guardian is considered a “fiduciary” and has the accompanying responsibilities and duties of loyalty.

Guardianship: Under Utah law, a guardianship is a legal relationship between a competent adult (the guardian) and an incapacitated adult or a minor (the ward). A guardianship relationship must be established by court order. The court order gives the guardian authority to act on behalf of and make decisions for the ward. A court may order either a full guardianship or a limited guardianship. The need to seek a guardianship can often be avoided with advance planning using a living trust or through the use of a durable power of attorney.

Heir: commonly used to refer to any person entitled to receive property from the estate of a person who has died either with or without a will. More precisely, an heir is a person who is entitled under the intestacy laws of Utah to receive property from the estate of a person who has died without a will. Utah’s intestacy laws govern the distribution of an estate when no written will has been left. If a written will has been made by the decedent, the will will govern the distribution of property from the estate.

Holographic Will: a holographic will is one which is made, signed, and dated entirely in the handwriting of the testator. Under Utah law, a holographic will does not have to meet the same requirements for being witnessed that must be followed for an ordinary will. Although holographic wills are recognized under the Utah probate code, a formally witnessed will is strongly recommended.

Homestead Allowance: the surviving spouse of a decedent is entitled to a homestead allowance of $22,500, which is exempt from and has priority over all claims of the estate. If the decedent leaves no surviving spouse, then each minor child or dependent child of the decedent is entitled to a homestead allowance equal to $22,500 divided by the number of minor and dependent children of the. Unless the will or governing instrument provides otherwise, the homestead allowance is chargeable against any benefit or share of the estate passing to the surviving spouse, minor, or dependent children. (This amount is current as of the 2017 legislative session.)

Incapacitated Person: an adult who lacks sufficient understanding or ability to make or communicate responsible decisions, by reason of mental deficiency, mental illness, physical illness or disability, or chronic use alcohol or drugs. Under Utah probate law, such a person may be made a ward under a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding. Actions to appoint a guardian or conservator for incapacitated persons in Utah are handled through the probate courts.

Informal Proceedings: refers to actions under the Utah probate code which are conducted without notice to interested persons and by an officer of the court acting as registrar to probate a will and/or appoint a personal representative. Informal proceedings are not available under Utah probate in situations where a will is contested, or in intestacy proceedings when no will was made.

Interested Person: includes children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, heirs, devisees, and any others having a property right or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a decedent, ward, or protected person. Under Utah probate law, this term may also include persons having a priority for appointment as personal representative, other fiduciaries represented interested persons, or a settlor of a trust, or the trust settlor’s legal representative if the settlor is living but incapacitated.

Inter Vivos Trust: an “inter vivos” trust is one which is established by the grantor/trustor during his or her lifetime. Contrast this term with a “testamentary” trust, which is created by a person’s will and only becomes effective at the person’s death. In Utah, an inter vivos trust is more commonly referred to as a “living trust.” Inter vivos trusts can play an important role in avoiding the probate process in Utah. An inter vivos trust can provide more flexibility than a simple will, and can also provide certain protections to the grantor during his or her lifetime.

Intestate Succession: refers to the transfer of property from an estate when no will has been made, and the division of property is made under the terms of the Utah probate code rather than according to the wishes of the decedent. Utah’s intestacy laws generally provide that property will pass to a spouse or children if such survive the decedent. If there is no surviving child or spouse, other relatives may be entitled to receive the property of the estate. Even if a person has made statements regarding how their estate should be divided upon their death, those wishes may not be followed by a Utah probate court unless those wishes have been formalized in a will or holographic will.

Issue: Under the Utah probate code, the term ‘issue’ is defined as having the same meaning as the term ‘descendant.” A person’s issue includes all descendants of all generations who have a relationship of parent and child (i.e., children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.). See also, descendant.

Adopted children or grandchildren are treated equally with biological children or grandchildren, and would legally be considered “issue” under Utah law. A step-child or step-grandchild is not considered “issue” has no standing to inherit under Utah law, unless a will or trust makes specific provision to the contrary.

Joint Tenancy or Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship: a form of joint ownership in which each individual has an equal and undivided interest in the property or asset. Under Utah law, on the death of one of the joint tenants, that person’s interest in the property immediately passes to the surviving tenant. As a Utah estate planning tool, joint tenancy may help to avoid probate in some circumstances. However, a joint tenancy will not avoid probate for the surviving tenant, nor will it avoid probate in the event of the simultaneous death of both joint tenants. While a joint tenancy is a useful estate planning tool, there may be better ways to avoid probate in Utah. As a general rule, it is safest to use a joint tenancy with right of survivorship only between spouses. If you are considering taking title as joint tenants in other circumstances, consultation with an attorney is strongly advised.

Letters: under the Utah probate code, the term ‘letters’ includes letters testamentary, letters of administration, letters of guardianship, and letters of conservatorship. Letters testamentary and letters of administration are issued by the probate court to authorize the administration of a decedent’s estate. Letters of guardianship and letters of conservatorship are issued by the probate court to authorize the management of the affairs of a minor child or of an incapacitated person.

Letters of Guardianship: a Utah probate court will issue letters of guardianship as proof of a person’s authority to act as guardian of a minor child or an incapacitated person. Letters of guardianship may be issued by a probate court in cases where a parent has passed away, in cases where a living parent has designated another person to act in the role of guardian, or in cases where parental rights have been terminated or suspended.

For individuals or couples who have minor children, a will can be used to nominate a guardian to serve upon the parent(s) death. A conservator may be named separately, or a guardian may be given the authority of both guardian and conservator.

Letters Testamentary: a document issued by a Utah probate court to serve as proof that a person is authorized to act as the personal representative of the estate of a decedent. Letters testamentary (and sometimes the death certificate) provide the proof necessary to allow the personal representative (executor or administrator) to take control of the assets of the estate and make the transfers necessary to distribute the estate assets.

Living Trust: a Utah living trust is a trust that is established during the lifetime of the grantor or trustor. A testamentary trust is a trust that is created by a person’s will, and that only comes into existence on the person’s death. Living trusts are estate planning tools that are often used in combination with a will, with the goal of avoiding probate. Sometimes referred to as an “inter vivos” trust, under Utah law a living trust can be either revocable or irrevocable. There are advantages and disadvantages to both revocable and irrevocable living trusts. You should consult with an attorney to determine which is most appropriate for your circumstances.

Living Will: a legal document that allows a person to express their intent and desire relating to health care decisions, particularly with regard to heroic measures or end-of-life care decisions. In Utah, a living will is more formally referred to as an “advance health care directive.” The legislature has set forth, by statute, the policies and legal procedures involved with an advance health care directive. However, individuals are given a great degree of latitude in determining what kind of health care procedures to accept or reject, and whom to designate as agent.

Minor Guardianship: A guardianship over a minor in Utah is generally established by court action. A guardian over a minor is charged with the responsibility to care for the minor. Although a parent may use a will or other written instrument to nominate another adult to act as guardian of a minor child after the parent dies, this kind of appointment will only become effective upon filing an acceptance of appointment in the appropriate court. If both parents have died without nominating a guardian, the court will have to determine who will be the child’s guardian. Under some circumstances, a school board can appoint a guardian over a minor child. See also, conservator and adult guardianship.

Personal Representative: a person named in a will or appointed by a court to administer the estate of a deceased person. Under the Utah probate code, the term “personal representative” includes an administrator, executor, successor personal representative, special administrator, and persons who perform substantially the same function.

Probate: Under Utah law, the term probate refers to legal proceedings concerning the affairs of deceased persons, missing persons, incapacitated persons, protected persons, adult guardianships, and minors. Most commonly, the term is used in conjunction with court proceedings to determine the appropriate distribution of the estate of a person who is deceased (either with or without a will). But Utah’s probate court’s also regularly hear cases involving guardianships of both minors and incapacitated adults. The term is also used to refer to the division of the Utah court system that hears probate cases.

Qualified Beneficiary: Under Utah Uniform Trust Code, a qualified beneficiary is specifically defined as a beneficiary of a trust who, as of the date the beneficiary’s qualification is determined, is either “a current or permissible distributee of trust income or principal,” or “would be a distributee or permissible distributee of trust income or principal if the trust terminated on that date.”

Registrar: Under Utah Code Ann. 75-1-307, the person serving as registrar in a Utah probate action “shall be a judge of the court.” However, in practice, many functions of a registrar are performed by clerks of the court. Under an informal probate proceeding in Utah, the registrar’s duties include determining whether the probate application is properly completed, making certain findings of fact, appointing a personal representative, and issuing letters testamentary.

Revocable Trust: as applied to a trust in Utah, the term “revocable” means that the trust can be revoked or terminated by the settlor without the consent of the trustee, beneficiaries, or other interested parties. Under Utah law, a revocable trust typically can also be modified by the settlor without consent. Most revocable living trusts in Utah are written so that they become irrevocable upon the death of the settlor.

Self-Proving Will: a will is made self-proving under Utah law when it is signed by the testator and witnessed by the required number of witnesses (two) in the presence of a notary or other officer authorized to administer oaths. A notary public is the most common “officer” used to make a Utah will self-proving. A self-proving will can make the probate process much simpler, since Utah probate courts can accept the will without requiring additional proof outside of the will itself. If a will is not executed and witnessed in the presence of a notary, it can made self-proving after the fact by following essentially the same procedure.

Settlement: in the context of a decedent’s estate, the Utah probate code defines “settlement” as the full process of administering, distributing, and closing the decedent’s estate. Settlement can occur with or without the involvement of a Utah probate court. One common goal of effective estate planning in Utah is to avoid the necessity of involving the probate courts. While a will is an important part of any well-made estate plan, a living trust is often an important tool used to allow settlement of the estate without filing a probate action.

Settlor: Under the Utah Uniform Trust Act, a settlor includes any person who creates, or contributes property to, a trust. A trust may have more than one settlor. If more than one person contributes property to a trust, then each person is considered a settlor over that portion of the trust property that is attributable to that person’s contribution.

Many Utah living trusts are created by a husband and wife, with property being contributed to the trust by both the husband and the wife. In such a circumstance, both husband and wife would be considered “settlors” of the trust.

Small Estates Affidavit: an affidavit that can be used in lieu of a probate proceeding to transfer certain property belonging of a decedent to the successor of the decedent. Thirty days after the death of the decedent, a Utah small estates affidavit can be used to transfer tangible personal property and certain financial instruments, but cannot be used to transfer real property (homes, condominiums, land, etc.). To qualify to use a small estates affidavit in lieu of probate in Utah, the total value of the estate subject to administration must not exceed $100,000, and may also include up to four motor vehicles, boats, trailers, or semitrailers. A small estates affidavit cannot be used in Utah if an application or petition to appoint a personal representative is pending or has been granted in any jurisdiction. Use of a small estates affidavit is generally not advised if disputes over the estate are anticipated.

Successor: Under the Utah probate code, the term “successor” includes any person, excluding a creditor, who is entitled to receive a distribution of property from the estate of a decedent. This can include both distributions under a decedent’s will, through intestacy proceedings, or other distributions under the Utah probate code.

Supervised Administration: settlement of a decedent’s estate under the continuing authority and supervision of the Utah probate court. In many cases, the administration, distribution, and settlement of an estate is done without a requirement to report to or be directed by the court. In some Utah probate cases, the court will require a supervised administrator, who will be responsible both to the court and to the interested party (heirs, devisees, etc.) and will be subject to direction by the court. The Utah probate court will retain continuing authority over the estate until the administration and settlement of the estate is complete, and an order is entered approving the distribution of the estate and discharging the personal representative.

Survive: an individual is considered to survive another individual for most purposes of the Utah probate code if that individual does not predecease the other individual. Complications can arise in determining who is entitled to inherit or receive distributions from a decedent’s estate when the decedent dies simultaneously with a spouse or other person associated with the decedent’s estate, or under circumstances which make it impossible to determine which person died first. To avoid such complications, many Utah estate planners will include a clause in a will or trust designating which person should be considered to have died first in the event of a simultaneous death, or requiring that a person must survive the decedent by at least 30 days in order to be entitled to inherit.

Testamentary Trust:  a testamentary trust is a trust that is established through a last will and testament and becomes effective only after the grantor’s death.  Under Utah law, a testamentary trust and governed by the terms of the grantor’s will.  A testamentary trust can be used to exert some control over how assets left through a will can be used after the testator’s death.  Testamentary trusts are used less frequently now, as living trusts can accomplish most of the purposes of a testamentary trust while still giving the grantor some benefit during the grantor’s lifetime.

Testator:  a person who writes a will, or has a will written for him or her, and executes the will. Traditionally, the terms “testator” and “testatrix” were used to refer to a male and a female respectively who made a will.  Under the Utah probate code, the term testator is used to refer to a person of either gender.

Trustee:  an individual or other entity named to manage property or assets under the terms of a trust document.  The trustee holds those property or assets for the benefit of another.  Under the Utah probate code, the term “trustee” includes an original trustee, as well as additional trustees, co-trustees, or successor trustees, whether or not appointed or confirmed by the court.

Trust:  a legal form of ownership in which property is held, managed, and used for the benefit of another.

Ward:  means a person for whom a guardian has been appointed due to reasons of either incapacity or minority.  Under the Utah probate code, a person who is appointed a guardian solely because of minority is considered a “minor ward.”  A guardian is considered to be a fiduciary, and owes the accompanying responsibilities and duties of loyalty to the ward.

Will:  as used in the Utah probate code, the term “will” includes both an original will, as well as a codicil or other testamentary instrument which revokes or revises a previous will, appoints an executor, nominates a guardian, or expressly limits or excludes the rights of an individual or class to receive property of the decedent through Utah intestate succession rules.