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 thirteen 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.

Utah Probate Update

In a prior post, I discussed a new law requiring personal representatives to send copies of most probate pleadings to the Office of Recovery Services via certified mail. I predicted that this new law would not remain unchanged for long, and I was correct. Utah H.B. 343 limits the court filings that trigger notice to probate petitions and places the burden on the court to send notice. This is a logical change in the law that reduces unnecessary paperwork and eliminates a pitfall for the unwary.

In addition, two new rules regarding probate contests have been passed. Utah Rules of Civil Procedure 26.4 adds clarity to the process for contested probate proceedings where a party makes an objection to an action arising under the Utah Uniform Probate Code. Most notably, the objector, now the defendant in the matter, must file a written objection with the court setting forth the grounds for the objection and supporting authority and mail the objection to the other interested parties. If the defendant fails to do this, the relief sought by the petitioner can be granted. Estate planning documents must generally be included in initial disclosures and, in the case of a guardianship or conservatorship, an evaluation of less restrictive options is now required.

Finally, Utah Code of Judicial Administration Rule 6-506 provides that "all probate disputes will be automatically referred by the court to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program," unless waived by the court, which has long been the practice in Third District. This new rule also clarifies the procedures for a pre-mediation conference. Probate contests are often complicated matters with difficult family dynamics, and these new rules provide some needed clarity.