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Terms & Definitions - E-F

Alphabetical Listing of Utah Estate Planning Terms

A, B-C, D, E-F, G-H, I-J, K-Q, R-S, T-Z

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.

Finding an Estate Planning Attorney in Utah

Utah Wills Trusts & Estate Planning Attorney Salt LakeWe work personally with each client, taking time to listen and understand their individual and family circumstances and needs. Then we create a customized estate plan, tailored to meet each client's goals. A living trust, last will and testament, durable power of attorney, and advance health care directive are estate planning tools that can each play an important role in a comprehensive estate plan. Contact us today to see how we can help customize these tools to meet your needs.

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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.

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