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Is an ex-spouse entitled to inherit in Utah if there is no will?

When a person dies in Utah without a will, then the person is considered to have died "intestate" and the person's distribution of that person's assets is determined under the provisions of the Utah probate code dealing with intestate succession.  Utah's intestate succession laws provide that a surviving spouse is entitled to a significant portion of the decedent's estate.  However, under Utah Code 75-2-802, when a divorce decree has been entered or a marriage has been annulled, the ex-spouse is not considered to be a "surviving spouse" and is not entitled to inherit under intestate succession.

Utah Criminal Attorney - 402 ReductionsA legal separation does not legally terminate the husband-wife relationship.  Therefore, even if a court order has been entered creating a legal separation, the spouse will be still be entitled to inherit under intestate succession laws in Utah.  (Contrast this situation with Utah's law governing health care decisions when no valid advance health care directive has been executed.  Under Utah law, a spouse who has been legally separated from the patient loses the first-place priority normally given to a spouse to act as a surrogate in making health care decisions for a person who is not able to make decisions or speak for himself or herself.)

Unlike an ex-spouse, a person's current spouse is entitled to inherit under Utah intestate succession laws.  If the decedent has no children, or if all of the decedent's children are were born to the current spouse, then that current spouse is entitled to inherit 100% of the decedent's estate.  If the decedent had children from another union, and if there is no will, then Utah law governing intestate succession provides for a division of the estate between the spouse and the children - approximately 50% to the spouse with the remainder being divided among the decedent's children.

Creating a personalized estate plan including a will, and in many circumstances a living trust, ensures that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.  Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with Utah estate planning attorney Stephen Howard.


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Estate Planning Attorney Wills & Trusts Estate Planning - Setting up a good estate plan requires more than filling out a free online form or downloading software. But a good estate plan does not have to be overly expensive. A good attorney can guide you through the process of determining what estate planning tools are right for you and your family, and then create personalized estate planning documents to protect you and your family, and give you the peace of mind you deserve. Contact us today to start the process of setting up a personalized estate plan.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, Morgan, and Wasatch Counties - and all of Utah.


Stephen W. Howard is Utah attorney, practicing as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC.
With offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties, we are pleased to provide legal services to clients throughout Utah.
Call 801-449-1409 to arrange for a confidential initial consultation.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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