Welcome to CPA at Law, helping individuals and small businesses plan for the future and keep what they have.

This is the personal blog of Sterling Olander, a Certified Public Accountant and Utah-licensed attorney. For over seven years, I have assisted clients with estate planning and administration, tax mitigation, tax controversies, small business planning, asset protection, and nonprofit law.

I write about any legal, tax, or technological information that I find interesting or useful in serving my clients. All ideas expressed herein are my own and don't constitute legal or tax advice.

Time Limit for Probating a Will in Utah

In Utah, except in rare circumstances, a will cannot be the subject of a probate proceeding more than three years after the death of the testator. Accordingly, because the "the presumption of intestacy is final" after three years, any devisee under a will who receives a devise that is greater then their statutory share as an heir will want to ensure that the will is probated within this timeframe.

Until a few years ago, no proceeding to appoint a personal representative of a decedent's estate could generally be commenced more than three years after the death of the decedent. However, this changed with Utah H.B. 327, Chapter 364 (2013) and Utah H.B. 265, Chapter 134 (2014).

H.B. 327 "allows the appointment of a personal representative or special administrator beyond three years after a decedent’s death when the will was not previously probated." Specifically, the statute providing for the three-year limit was changed as follows: "No informal probate or appointment proceeding or formal testacy or appointment proceeding... may be commenced more than three years after the decedent's death..."

The bill also added "appoint a personal representative or special administrator to administer the decedent's estate" to the list of things that the court expressly has continuing jurisdiction to do.

H.B. 265 "makes technical and clarifying changes." Specifically, it deleted the provision previously found in Utah Code 75-3-301 that required appointment applications to state that "three years or less have passed since the decedent's death", which before the change was inconsistent with the changes made by H.B. 327. This bill also clarified that a court has continuing jurisdiction to appoint a personal representative formally or informally, notwithstanding the three-year limit found in Utah Code 75-3-107(1).

These new laws are not well understood. The form for an application for appointment of a personal representative provided by the Utah courts contains the statement that "not more than three years have passed since the person died" even though the form is specific to intestacy. Moreover, some courts in Utah still reject applications for appointment just because more than three years have passed since the decedent's death. Hopefully this post helps provide clarity.

Alert: Fixing Problems with Online IRS EIN Applications

This post is an update to a prior post, with updated information about fixing rejected online EIN applications submitted on the IRS's website. Apparently, the IRS no longer allows entities to be the responsible party for an EIN application. According to the latest instructions for IRS Form SS-4, "Unless the applicant is a government entity, the responsible party must be an individual (i.e., a natural person), not an entity."

Previously, it was possible for an entity that had not obtained its EIN online to be the responsible party for a new entity's online EIN application. In recent months, I have become aware that many IRS online EIN applications are resulting in an error page that doesn't include a reference number. The cause of this error page could be identifying an entity as the responsible party. Unless you are a government entity, you'll need to list an individual with a social security number as the responsible party for all online IRS EIN applications. Thanks to Joel in New Jersey for bringing this to my attention.