My mother died in April. She had a living will that her house (her only possession) would go equally to all five children. We are in the process of selling the house and were told by the Title Company that we would need to file in Probate Court. We cannot afford an attorney to do this for us. Our deadline is the 22nd of this month. How do we go about doing this ourselves?
I think that the Probate Court in Salt Lake City has a packet of information for do-it-yourself lawyers. If not, check the website for Utah Courts and maybe you'll find what you need there. I see people in Probate Court, now and then, acting as do-it-yourself lawyers trying to handle probate cases without a lawyer. It is not an impossible task, but I've seen people having to come back to court multiple times because they continued to make mistakes and not comply with legal requirements for probate. Good luck!
I think Randy is right--check with the Third District court clerks and see if there is a packet regarding probate. At one point, there was talk of a Utah Bar Section assembling a self-help probate packet--although I did not find one conspicously posted on the Utah Bar's website. You can also refer to the Utah Code and read the rules as an attorney would. You can find the Utah probate code at: http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE75/75_03.htm (hope that link works--if not, cut and paste it to your browser).
Unfortunately, I think you will find the rules a bit hard to navigate. There is a book on Utah Probate, but I beleive it is out of print (although probably available at the U of U Law Library or the BYU Law Library). That book has forms that might help. The hard part is that the forms are like tools, and you have to know what tool to use in a give situation. When I was trying to figure out how to handle probates as a young attorney, that form book was very helpful--although figuring out the process and required documents still took some reading of the Utah Code.
I wish you the best. I know you don't want to hire an attorney, but I think that is your best bet for a timely closing of the house (even with an attorney, at this point there is a slight chance that it may not be possible to get the documents you need from the court). The probate filing fee is $360--if you shop hard. You can probably find an attorney to open a probate for $500 to $1,000, plus the filing fee, assuming it can be done informally, everyone waives notice, and you don't run into any hitches. You will have to shop around and you will likely find that attorneys are hesitant to give you a firm price quote because they need to know details before they can act.
Again, I wish you the best.
JASON C. HUNTER
Salt Lake City Office:
299 South Main Street, Suite 1710
Salt Lake City, UT 84111
2610 Washington Boulevard
Ogden, UT 84401
You will do this with a great deal of difficulty or not at all. Perhaps you can retain an attorney who will agree to be paid at settlement of the real estate for his or her services in connection with the probate of the will. In addition, there may be inheritance taxes and other obligations of the estate that need to be taken care of before you can receive the proceeds. There is no way around this-get an attorney to help you, before you get into deeper trouble or lose the buyer because you messed around.
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