Utah: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law for Utah. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Utah currently has the fourth highest population growth rate in the U.S. Just take one look at all that this beautiful state has to offer and it’s easy to see why so many people would want to move there: Affordable housing, low cost of living, low crime rate, great skiing, and gorgeous landscape as far as the eye can see.

If you or someone you’re caring for lives in the Beehive State, then there will be several important documents you’ll want to have organized in case of an emergency. Here’s a complete list of all medical, legal, and estate planning forms you’ll need as a resident of Utah.

Essential Utah Medical State Laws & Forms

How to Get Your Medical Records in Utah

In Utah, healthcare providers must maintain a patient’s medical records as follows:

  • Doctors: 6 years as required by HIPAA regulations.
  • Hospitals: 7 years or until the patient reaches age 22 (whichever is longer).

For as long as they are available, you have the right to get a copy or amend your medical records. You can find out more about how to do this here.

Read more about your rights when it comes to your medical records.

Advance Directive Laws in Utan

Residents of Utah who wish to set up an advance directive can find a free downloadable form from the University of Utah. This form allows you to specify the following:

  • Part 1 - Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Part 2 - Living Will

You do not need a lawyer to complete this advance directive. But to make them legally effective, you must sign the forms in the presence of a witness. This witness must also sign the form and cannot be related to you by blood, marriage, or have a claim to your estate.

Anyone who wishes to fill out a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) form should complete a POLST (Provider Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment) form. A POLST is similar to a DNR but provides more comprehensive instructions to EMS and other medical personnel when making treatment decisions.

Utah Organ Donor Registry

Becoming an organ donor in the state of Utah is a simple process. You can go online to Yes Utah! and register by creating a confidential account. Yes Utah! is managed by Donor Connect, an organization that facilitates gifts of organs, eyes, and tissue between donors and recipients.

Essential Utah Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

Utah Probate Laws

When a resident of Utah passes away (i.e. becomes a "decedent"), their estate must go through the probate process if:

  • The decedent owned real property either solely in their name or as a tenant in common. Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety does not count.
  • The decedent had probate assets exceeding $100,000 such as bank accounts, personal property, business interests, etc.

At the start of probate, a personal representative will be appointed (Utah’s version of an executor). This person will be in charge of inventorying the decedent’s assets, maintaining them, and then ultimately distributing them in accordance with the will.

If someone is named in the decedent’s will, then that person will be given priority to serve as the personal representative. If no one is named or there is no will, then the court will appoint someone to serve generally giving spouses and family members priority.

It’s estimated that a formal probate process may take up to 6 months. Probate can be reduced to an “informal probate” process by filing several documents and getting the decedent’s heirs to sign waivers of notice. When this happens, the hearing may be skipped.

Some assets can automatically bypass probate and be transferred to heirs directly if they meet certain requirements. Examples of these “non-probate assets” include:

  • Retirement accounts, pensions, or annuities with a designated beneficiary
  • Property in a living trust
  • Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
  • Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy

Read more about the Utah probate process.

Trusts in Utah

A revocable living trust is another way to avoid probate and pass property directly to a beneficiary. Even though Utah does use the Uniform Probate Code, it may still be a good idea to create a living trust to protect these assets from creditors and avoid the complexities of court altogether.

A will should also be written even if you create a trust. A will helps to provide a catch-all for any property that wasn't transferred to the trust. Without a will, it would be up to the court to determine how your remaining assets should be dispersed under Utah state law.

Read more about the biggest differences between a will and a trust, and how each can assist you with probate when planning your estate.

Utah Digital Estate Planning Laws

In Utah, your digital assets (emails, social media accounts, etc.) can be accessed and managed by your personal representative or trustee. To find out more about everything that’s covered, you can read the full bill here: HB 13 Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act

How to Get a Death Certificate in Utah

Death certificates may be ordered from the funeral home that handled your arrangements, the local health department, or the Office of Vital Records in Salt Lake City (this can be done online).

Persons entitled to obtain a certified copy of a death record must demonstrate a “direct, tangible, and legitimate interest.” After 50 years, the death certificate becomes part of the public record and is accessible to everyone.

Does Utah Have an Estate & Inheritance Tax?

Whether you plan to leave assets to a beneficiary or you’re the heir to someone else’s estate, there may be taxes owed to the IRS. If you live in Utah, here are the state-level taxes that will be collected:

  • Estate tax: None. However, be aware that larger estates may still be subject to the federal estate tax.
  • Inheritance tax: None. Remember that if you live in Utah and someone from another state has made you an heir to their estate, then the other state’s inheritance laws may apply.
  • Gift tax: None. But don’t forget that the federal gift tax exemption is $15,000 per gift recipient per year.

How to Organize Your Most Important Documents

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