Do I need to update my will or trust?


The answer to this question depends on two things: (1) what changes have occurred in your life since you created or last updated your will and trust? and (2) when did you create or last update your estate plan?

In general, any major changes to your marriage, net worth, or beneficiaries, will require an update to your will or trust. Likewise, if your estate plan was done more than five years ago then it likely needs to be updated.

Significant events or changes in your life often require you to update your will and trust. For example, it is worthwhile to review or modify your estate plan in the event of any of the following:

  • You marry or have a child
  • You move to another state
  • You change your name
  • Your spouse dies
  • A beneficiary dies
  • You acquire or purchase significant assets
  • You have sold or no longer own property included in your will or trust

There have also been major changes in the law regarding estate planning. So if your will and trust haven't been updated in over five years then your estate plan may no longer work the way you intended. For example, a timeline of some of the significant changes in law include:

  • April 14, 2003 - This is the required compliance date under HIPPA. This means that if your power of attorney, health care directive, will, or trust was executed before this date you may not be able to work with your insurers and medical providers.
  • December 17, 2010 - This is the date the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act was enacted. This Act increased the threshold for owing federal estate taxes. If your estate plan was created before this date, your estate planning documents may contain federal tax-planning provisions that are no longer needed.
  • January 2, 2013 - The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 became law on this date. This Act lets a surviving spouse use his or her deceased spouse's unused federal estate tax exclusion. This is known as the "portability election". If your trust or will was drafted or last updated before this date, and you're married, you could be missing valuable tax planning opportunities. 

If any of the above applies to you, it is important that you meet with a trusted estate planning attorney to review all of your estate planning documents.



A Utah voting leave law that employers and employees need to know


With election day coming up on Tuesday, November 8, 2016, both employers and employees should be aware of a Utah law regarding the right to leave work to vote during an employee's on-duty hours.

Under Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3-103, each employer must allow any employee to take up to two hours off work, between the time the polls open and close, in order to vote. The employer must also not deduct wages or salary because of this absence.

To be eligible for this leave of absence, the employee must apply for the leave before election day and must not have three or more consecutive off-duty hours between the time polls open and close.

This year in Utah, the polls are open from 7:00 to 7:00 so that means if you start work after 10:00 am or get off work before 4:00 pm (or otherwise have three consecutive hours off-duty when the polls are open) you are not eligible for this leave of absence.

Furthermore, although the employer may specify the hours during which the employee may be absent, the employer must allow requests for leave of absence at the beginning or end of the work shift. In other words, if the employee works 9:00-5:00 and requests to get work off to vote from 9:00-11:00 or 3:00-5:00, the employer must allow this.

An employer's failure to grant leave to vote, provided the employee meets all of the mentioned requirements, is a class B misdemeanor.

Whether you are an employer or employee, it is important to know and understand all of your rights under Utah's employment laws. Consulting with a knowledgeable employment lawyer on a regular basis can you help stay on top of the ever-changing employment laws.


Does my will need to be notarized in Utah?


A will in Utah does not need to be notarized in order to be legal and enforceable. However, it does need to be signed by at least two witnesses, each of whom signed within a reasonable time after he or she witnessed either the signing of the testator's will or the acknowledgment of that signature by the testator.

Nonetheless, having your will notarized is a good idea. The reason for this is that a will that is signed by the testator and the witnesses in front of a notary public is considered a "self-proving" will. This means that the signatures on the will are deemed authenticate and witnesses will not be required to testify at subsequent probate proceedings.

This becomes very important in cases where one or both of the witnesses pass away or otherwise become unavailable before the testator dies. In that scenario, without notarized affidavits, it becomes more difficult to prove the authenticity of a will because there are no witnesses to testify to the authenticity of the signature.

Considering the relatively low cost and ease to get your will notarized, it makes a lot of sense to sign it in front of a notary public. Especially if it is likely that the witnesses will pass away before or around the same time as the testator or if it seems like the will may be contested.


How changing ownership of your rental property to an LLC can protect you from liability


For those that are fortunate enough to own investment or rental properties it is important to make sure that you are protected from any liability related to your property.

For example, if you are listed individually on the title to the property, and someone gets hurt on your property, then you may be personally liable for any damage that results. This means that your home, cars, bank account, etc. are on the line if someone sues you because of an issue related to your rental property. 

Having an LLC listed as the owner of the property is a way to avoid this personal liability. 

In other words, when property is owned by an LLC, it is only the LLC that can be successfully sued. For instance, if your tenant is upset because he or she feels repairs to the property haven't been made in a timely manner, your tenant can only successfully sue the LLC and not you personally (assuming you are properly separating yourself from the LLC). 

In Utah, forming an LLC for the purpose of owning your investment or rental property is a common and fairly straightforward process.

  1. To begin, if you have a mortgage on your property it is important to contact your lender to make sure it is okay to transfer title to an LLC.
  2. Once you have the okay from your lender, you can form your LLC.
  3. Your next step is to transfer title to the property to your LLC. This is usually done with a warranty deed or a quitclaim deed.
  4. Once you've signed the deed, don't forget to record the deed in the county where your property is located.
  5. It is also critical that you set up a bank account for your LLC. This is used to receive rental income and pay expenses such as property taxes and repairs.
  6. Lastly, you should amend your lease agreement so that the LLC is listed as the landlord. This will shield you from any lawsuit brought by your tenants for breach of the lease agreement.

As soon as you have followed all of these steps you will be essentially shielded from any liability that may arise from your ownership of the property. In addition, you can enjoy the tax benefits of writing off expenses related to your property.

For those that have multiple investment or rental properties, it is recommended that you set up an LLC for each property that you own. That way each property is shielded from liability arising from other properties.