Government is not always efficient, but Utah’s Small Estate law helps expedite probate proceedings and conserve our very limited judicial resources. In Utah, a “small estate” means the decedent (the person who died) did not leave behind any real estate in their name and they had less than $100,000 of assets. The Utah Courts webpage explains Small Estates well: “Utah law allows someone handling the estate of a person who died (the decedent) with a ‘small estate’ to use a small estate affidavit to collect personal property (such as money in a bank account, jewelry, clothing, and furniture) instead of going through the probate process.” The idea is that we do not want to use our limited Court resources to handle probate in cases where there is no real property and a relatively small amount of assets to be transferred from the name of the decedent to the heirs. The Small Estate law is located at this link.
If there is a will, the heirs still need to follow the will, and if there is a disagreement, then perhaps one of the heirs will need to file a probate action in court. Otherwise, the heirs handle their own probate by using affidavits (forms) found on the Utah Courts webpage. There is one affidavit you use if you need to collect the decedent’s personal property and money in the decedent’s bank account. And there is another affidavit specifically tailored for having the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) transfer title to a vehicle from the name of the decedent to the name of the heir. Back to the bank account issue, please note that a “payable on death” of POD designation would trump collection of that money via the small estate affidavit.