Provide For Your Family. Control Your Estate. Save Costs.
If you want to control your property while you are alive and able, take care of yourself and your loved ones even after becoming disabled, and give what you have to whom you want, the way you want, and when you want, all while saving tax dollars, professional fees, and court costs, then you need good estate planning. Chris Guymon can help.
We don’t plan out estates for ourselves; we plan them for our family and close friends. Everyone you love has a unique relationship with you, and therefore, they are going to remember your “last wishes” all a little bit differently. Your passing will be one of the hardest things they go through; don’t make them think about your “stuff” or force them to make big decisions while they’re going through this because you didn’t have a plan in place. They will fight, relationships will be damaged, and it can all be avoided with simple, quick, and affordable estate planning and trust set up.
When you hire me you’ll receive (1) personalized guidance in planning your estate, (2) an integrated, “family” approach where I have conversations with family members while mom and dad are alive to smooth over any concerns and protect those relationships, (3) the highest quality Estate Plans at competitive pricing thanks to my Wealth Counsel membership, and (4) an upfront pricing structure so there are no surprises. Gun trusts are also available.
- Living Wills
- Gun Trusts
- Medical Directives
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Beneficiary Designations
- Joint Ownership Issues
What is a Will?
A will is written legal instructions to the court that allows you to do the following:
- Name the people and organizations that you choose to receive your property;
- Name the person you wish to be guardian for your minor children under the age of 18 in the event both their parents pass away;
- Name you “personal representative” as well as an alternate personal representative: a person or company that you wish to handle your affairs and manage your property after your death; and
- Make special provisions, perhaps by means of a trust, for the care of your minor children or some other family members who may have special needs.
- It’s important to note that Wills are public record, and anyone written in a will can be seen by anyone once it’s filed with the court.
Do I Need a Will?
If you are single with little to no assets then honestly, you don’t really need an estate plan. What you have will probably go to your children if you have any, and if not, to your parents or siblings. If you’re ok with that, then you don’t need a plan.
If you have any of the following you should have at least a basic plan:
- Married: Marriage provides for a majority, if not all, your assets to go to your spouse if you are to pass away without a will. Previous marriages and/or kids can muddy up this process and clear directions is strongly encouraged.
- Kids: It is advisable that those with young children should at least have a will in place to help provide for the care of those children.
- House: As soon as you have a house, you should have a trust to assist in the transfer of your assets (life insurance is included when determining net worth). Many good estate planning attorney will offer will/trust combos for almost the same price as a standalone will.
- Money: If you have net worth in excess of $250,000 to $500,000, you should also have a trust for the same reasons listed above.
Can I Write my Own Will?
You can prepare your own will, in your own handwriting. This is called a “holographic will”. Though a witness is not needed for a holographic will, you need to sign it. This is a great last resort, however, due to the complexities of probate laws, it is recommended that you have the assistance of a lawyer. There is a lot more to an estate plan than just a will.
Can I Change my Will?
Absolutely! The creator of a will (called a testator) may revoke all or part of a will at any time. You do so by adding what is called a “codicil” (amendment) to the will, or revoking the old will and starting from scratch. Before revoking a previous will, it’s best to contact an attorney, because even a bad will is often better than no will, and you don’t want to revoke the old will before you’re ready with a new one.
When Do I Need to Update My Will?
Family events such as births, deaths, marriages, or divorces all can have an effect a will. Changes in the amount or type of property you possess, such as when you purchase a home. A change in tax laws could also prompt a change to a will or estate plan if the change directly affects you. Also if your designated executor is unable to serve, you should update your will.
What Happens if I Die Without an Estate Plan?
When a person dies without an estate plan, they are said to have died “intestate.” In Utah, there is a legal formula that dictates how a court should divide up your estate. Your loved ones will be forced into court (called “probate”) and a judge will use this formula to determine who gets what, after of course taxes and court fees have been taken out first.
How Will the Court Divide my Property if I Die Without a Will?
Typically your property will go first to your wife, then your descendants (kids and grandkids) and if not them, your parents and/or siblings. This process gets significantly more confusing for “non-traditional” families, such as multiple marriages, or non-married partners. The entire law can be found at Utah Code Ann. § 75-2-102.
What is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process of distributing a deceased person’s property. The probate process also ensures that creditors are paid. In Utah, probate is very streamlined, and if no disputes arise, it is possible to complete probate without having to go before a judge. However, filings still must be made with the court clerk.
It is also important to note that probate is a matter of public record. If financial privacy is important to you, then you should consider using a revocable trust rather than a will, because even if you have a will, your estate will have to go through probate.
What if I have a small estate?
In Utah, if a person dies owning less than $100,000, and owns no real estate, the estate does not have to go through probate. Utah Probate Code § 75-3-1201 through 1204
What are the requirements for a will to be valid?
A will must be witnessed by two persons, both must see the either the testator (person whose will it is) sign the will, acknowledge her signature or acknowledge the will. The witnesses must sign the will as a witness within a reasonable period of time thereafter. § 75-2-502.
What is a holographic will?
Utah recognizes the validity of holographic wills. A holographic will is a document, written in the hand of the deceased person that was intended to constitute:
- the deceased’s will;
- a partial or complete revocation of the deceased’s will;
- an addition to or alteration of the will; or
- a partial or complete revival of his formerly revoked will or of a formerly revoked portion of the will.
Holographic wills do not have to be witnessed as above, since they must be in the handwriting of the testator. § 75-2-503
Do I need a lawyer?
While it is possible to make a valid will on your own, most people should consider consulting with an attorney to draft their will. Attorneys are able to assist clients with the following:
- Improving their estate plan by suggesting alternatives or considerations that might otherwise be overlooked.
- Avoiding problems caused by unclear language.
- Reducing or eliminated challenges on the grounds of undue influence, fraud, or forgery.
An attorney should be consulted where:
- The gross value of your estate, including life insurance, employer death benefits, and anything you might inherit from your spouse or others, exceeds $600,000.
- Where one or more of your heirs may have trouble managing their affairs due to age, disability, lack of training or desire.
- Where there are businesses or partnerships involved.
- Where there might be substantial conflict among the heirs
- Where there are any other unusual or bothersome circumstances.
Estate Planning & Probate, Utcourts.gov, https://www.utcourts.gov/howto/wills/ (last visited July 16, 2016).
What should I do with my will after I create it?
You should keep you will in a safe, and easily accessible place. Also be sure to let your executor know where the will is located. Having a lawyer involved also means that you know a copy will be kept safe incase something happens to your original.
“In the world nothing’s certain except death and taxes.” — Ben Franklin