The process to make a will is generally similar in every state; however, there are differences. Every state has its own laws surrounding wills, with specific requirements for the court to accept a will as legally valid. When you make an online will in Utah, you want to make sure you satisfy all the required state statutes. Be sure to use an online will that is customized for Utah as well.
Can I Make a Will Online in Utah?
Yes, you can make a will online in Utah—anyone who is at least 18 years of age and who is of sound mind is legally allowed to make a will in the state of Utah. When you make a will online, we recommend using an online will making service like USLegalWills to do so.
Here are the legal requirements for online will making in Utah:
- The will must be in writing.
- You (known as the Testator) must sign or acknowledge your will in front of two witnesses, and
- Your witness must then sign your will “within a reasonable amount of time” after you signed or acknowledged it.
Your witnesses can be anyone above the age of 18. While Utah does not specifically require your witnesses to be “disinterested” (meaning, not a beneficiary in the will), it is better to choose two people who do not stand to inherit anything from your estate. By choosing “disinterested” witnesses over “interested” ones, you can avoid potential legal complications.
Utah has recently enacted the Uniform Electronic Wills Act, which is a bill that allows for electronic wills. While making an electronic will is now an option in Utah, there are other stipulations that are required for it to be valid. For more information on electronic wills in Utah, you can find the applicable state statutes here.
Does Utah Require a Notarized Will?
Utah does not require you to notarize your will in order for it to be considered valid. Like many other states, though, Utah does allow for a will to be “self-proved.”
When a will is presented to the probate court, it must be validated. By making your will “self-proved,” you can speed up this process. To “self-prove” a will in Utah, you and your witnesses make sworn statements in front of a notary public. It is these sworn statements that are notarized (not the will itself), which you then attach to the will. Once you have these affidavits attached to your will, it is considered “self-proved.”
A “self-proved” will can be automatically accepted by the court as valid. The sworn statements you and your witnesses make in front of the notary act as though you testified before the court itself. This means that the court does not have to call upon your witness to testify to the authenticity of your will.
Can I Name an Executor in Utah?
Yes, you can name an executor in your will in Utah. The executor of the estate is the individual chosen to settle the estate, assuring that the will is followed. If you do not name an executor in your will, then the probate court will have to appoint someone (which can delay the process). It is a good idea to name someone as the executor in your will; you want to choose someone you know and someone you trust.
This person will have many responsibilities during the process of settling your estate, including but not limited to: paying off debts and paying ongoing expenses from the estate, filing various legal documents to the court, and gathering all your assets to distribute according to your will. Choosing someone who is well-organized, able to keep track of details, and who is otherwise generally responsible is important to make sure the probate process goes as smoothly as possible.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Utah:
- Must be at least 21 years old, and
- Must be of sound mind (not having been judged incapacitated by a court).
While many other states prohibit anyone with a felony conviction to serve as an executor, Utah does not have any statutes prohibiting this. You are free to name anyone who meets the above requirements as the executor.
Utah also does not have any special requirements to name an out-of-state executor. However, for practical purposes, it might be better to choose someone who lives nearby. The process for settling an estate can take weeks, months, or sometimes even longer.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Utah?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will in Utah. If you have a particularly complex estate, though, it is always wise to consult an estate planning attorney. If you want to include special conditions in your will, you should consult an attorney as well. But if your will is straightforward and your estate is relatively simple, online will making is a good option. Make sure to follow the guidelines for Utah and use an online will making service that has state-specific templates.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in Utah?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Utah, whether the will is made online or not.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Utah?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament. It is written and signed by the Testator (the person making the will), usually with no other attesting witnesses.
Utah does recognize holographic wills if they meet specific requirements. It needs to be entirely in your own handwriting; it needs to be signed and dated; and it needs to include all material provisions. It also needs to include language that indicates you intend the document to be your last will and testament.
Holographic wills often face delays in probate court as they do not always include important provisions, often people will use unclear language, and the will itself needs to be proved authentic. This generally means that the court will call witnesses to attest to your handwriting, sometimes even requiring handwriting analysis experts to testify.
In order to avoid legal delays, it is better to use an online will making service with a template designed for Utah. Once you make an online will in Utah, you print it out and sign it with witnesses who also sign it. By doing so, your will is less likely to face legal complications.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Utah?
A nuncupative will is an oral will, sometimes left on video; nuncupative wills are typically considered to be an emergency or last resort type of will. They are sometimes known as a “deathbed will.”
If the individual is facing imminent death and has not drafted a written will, a nuncupative will is better than leaving no instructions at all. If time and health allow, a written, witnessed, and legally binding will is much better for avoiding legal delays when settling the estate.
Utah does not recognize nuncupative wills. Any nuncupative will made in Utah will not be enforced by the court. This is primarily because Utah requires a will to be in writing, otherwise the court will not recognize it.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Utah?
Living wills are a completely separate legal document than a last will and testament. Whether you make an online will in Utah or otherwise, it is not the place to leave medical directives or end-of-life care desires. For such instructions, you must create a living will. You can make both a living will and a last will and testament online. For more information on living wills in Utah, you can go here.
Once you have a legally binding living will, it is your responsibility to let your family and your doctors know. You should make copies of your living will, giving them to responsible family members, the person who you named as your health care proxy if you named someone, and your medical providers.
The general requirements to make a living will effective in Utah are:
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- It must be in writing, substantially in the same form as Utah Code §75-2a-117.
- It must be dated.
- You must sign it in the presence of 2 or more adult witnesses.
A living will only becomes effective should you become incapacitated and unlikely to regain consciousness as determined by your medical team. In Utah, a living will is void during pregnancy.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Utah?
Whenever someone dies without a will, there are laws that determine what happens. Intestacy laws vary state by state, and every state has its own intestacy distribution laws. Utah will appoint a guardian for any minor children and an executor of the estate to pay any debts and to handle the distribution of property. After which, the estate is then settled according to the intestacy laws. If you have a spouse but no children, your spouse typically will inherit everything. If you have children but no spouse, your children typically will inherit everything. The list goes on to cover every possible outcome, and if the court exhausts all possibilities and determines you have no surviving family members—the state can take ownership of your property. This becomes a lengthy legal process, with property often being held in probate for months or years.
If you have children, or if you own property, or if you simply want to decide exactly how you want to distribute your estate—you should make a will. It is especially important to make a will if you have children, as you want to ensure that they are well taken care of in the event that something happens to you.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Utah?
Aside from naming the executor of your estate, you can include the following provisioning when you make an online will in Utah:
- You can appoint guardians for minor children, and you can appoint guardians to oversee any property left to minor children.
- You can leave property or gifts to specific people, to charities, or to organizations.
- You can name someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can distribute family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- You can distribute other personal or sentimental items.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in Utah?
You should not include funeral directions, medical directives, or end-of-life care stipulations in a last will and testament. Medical directives and end-of-life care desires need a separate legal document to be effective. Because a will is generally not consulted until after the funeral, any funeral instructions will likely not be known until after arrangements are made and your funeral is held. The same is true, of course, for medical directives and end-of-life care stipulations—and the requirements for such instructions to be legally binding are different from those of a last will and testament.
For medical directives and end-of-life care desires, create a living will.
For funeral directions, you do not have to make a formal document. You can talk about your wishes with family members, but you can also make a separate document which describes what you wish for your funeral arrangements. You will want to give this document to the executor of your estate or other trusted family members.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Utah?
A will that meets all the state-specific requirements for a valid will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. Once you have a valid will in place, the court will enforce it. However, as long as you are alive, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Utah, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- The Testator can destroy it physically (burn, tear, cancel, obliterate) with the intent to revoke the will, or
- The Testator can order someone else to destroy it physically in front of them.
- The Testator can make a new will which says it revokes the old one, or has contradictory terms to the old one.
If you have two wills, and it is not clear whether or not you revoked the old one, the state of Utah has rules to determine if the new will revokes the old one or if it only adds on to it. If you explicitly state that you are revoking your prior will, the new will goes into effect. If you do not dispose of all of your estate in the new will, the court assumes that you intended to add on to your old will. Your executor would then follow the instructions in both wills. If there is a contradictory term between the wills, the executor should follow the new will for that particular term.
After any major change in your life—like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or acquisition of significant assets, or relocation to another state or country—you should revisit your will. If you want to make major changes in your will, it is best to revoke your old will and write a new one. However, if you only have small changes to make, you can add an amendment to your will instead. This amendment is called a codicil, and it must be finalized with the same formalities as a will.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Utah?
After you make an online will in Utah, take these steps:
- Print it out.
- Sign it in front of two witnesses, and
- Have your two witnesses sign it.
To “self-prove” a will in Utah, you and your witnesses make sworn statements in front of a notary public. Attach these affidavits to your will, making your will “self-proved.”
Be sure to consider these special considerations in Utah:
- You cannot distribute property owned in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship.
- Utah has exemptions if you do not adequately provide for your married spouse or minor children. These include the elective share of the surviving spouse, homestead allowance, exempt property allowance, and family allowance.
- If you adopt or have a child and do not update your will, they are entitled to a share of the estate.
- If you divorce, any provisions left to your former spouse (as well as any of their relatives) are automatically revoked. If you named them as the executor of your estate, that is void. However, it is always best to update your will after divorce.
We tested multiple online will services to find out which ones produce the best last will and testament. Of all the wills we created—and had our lawyer review—USLegalWills had the best end product. To make an online last will and testament, we recommend USLegalWills.