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Stephen W. Howard - Canyons Law Group
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How is title to real estate transferred in Utah after the death of a spouse?

Following the death of a husband or wife, the method of transferring title to real estate (land, home, condominium, etc.) in Utah can vary depending on how the property was owned. Some methods are relatively simple, and may not require the assistance of a real estate attorney. Others will require the filing of a probate action in the Utah court system, where you may need the assistance of a Utah probate attorney or estate planning lawyer.

Joint Tenancy:  One of the most common methods by which a husband and wife may jointly own real estate in Utah is under a joint tenancy (sometimes called a joint tenancy with right of survivorship).  Under a joint tenancy, when one of the owners dies, the surviving owner is automatically entitled to full ownership of the property.  To ensure a clean chain of title, it is best to record an appropriate affidavit with the county recorder.  The affidavit should be recorded in the county where the property is located, regardless of where the owner resides.

Trust:  Many married couples choose to establish a family trust or living trust to assist in simplifying the management of their affairs and estates following their death.  If real property was held under such a trust, the successor trustee (often the surviving spouse) can step in and continue to manage the property in the place of the deceased spouse.  Unless contested, no probate action or other court proceedings are typically required.

Tenants in Common:  If property is held as tenants in common, it will normally be necessary to petition a Utah probate court for an appointment as a personal representative or administrator in order to effect the transfer of title to real estate.  If the person died without a will, a petition for a finding of intestacy and issuance of letters of administration will be necessary.  If the person had a will, then the courts may issue letters testamentary verifying the executor's authority to act.  To transfer title to the property, letters of administration or letters testamentary must then be recorded in the county recorder's office along with the new deed.

For help in dealing with transfers of real property following the death of a spouse, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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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.

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