To Trust or Not to Trust

TrustA Trust is an arrangement in which a Trustee is given legal title to property for the benefit of designated beneficiaries.  Trusts can be useful estate planning tools and are increasingly being used even in estates of moderate size.

While determining if a Trust will be beneficial in a person’s estate plan requires a detailed review of the person’s assets, liabilities, family situation, and estate planning goals, here are some of the typical advantages of using a Trust:

  1. Avoid Probate.  Probate is the judicial process of proving that a will is legitimate and distributing a persons assets accordingly.  Probate can be expensive and time consuming.  Assets placed in a Trust during a person’s lifetime are not considered part of a person’s estate when she dies, and therefore, are not subject to probate.
  2. Privacy.  Probate proceedings are generally a matter of public record while Trusts are private arrangements between the grantor, the trustee, and the beneficiaries.  By using a Trust a person can maintain privacy regarding their assets and who they are distributed to.
  3. Flexibility.  A Trust can be specifically tailored to a person’s wishes, so long as they are not illegal or against public policy.  As such, Trusts can accommodate unique or difficult family dynamics.  Additionally, Trusts can establish charitable foundations that can last for extended periods of time.
  4. Tax Savings.  For estates larger than $5.25M, Trusts may provide a tax savings function.
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Five Things Every Tenant Should Know

ForRentMost landlord/tenant relationships are in writing.  However, many times tenant’s find themselves asking “can my landlord really do that?”  There are some things a landlord cannot do, even if the lease says they can.  If you rent real estate in Utah, either residential or commercial, here are five important things you should know:

  1. 24 Hour Notice.  Every tenant has the right to quietly enjoy the property.  This means the landlord cannot barge in any time she wants.  In Utah a landlord must give a tenant at least 24 hours notice before entering the property, otherwise they are considered a trespasser.
  2. No Lockout.  Even if a tenant’s rent is overdue, a landlord cannot change the locks, remove the tenant’s belongings, or physically prevent the tenant from entering the property.  Eviction can only occur following a prescribed judicial process.
  3. Abandonment.  The one exception to the “No Lockout” rule arises in cases where the tenant has abandoned the property.  Abandonment is defined by Utah law, and can occur even if the tenant did not intend to abandon the property.  Any tenant who will be away from the property for an extended period should notify the landlord IN WRITING and make sure the rent is paid on time.
  4. Bad Housing.  Every residential rental property must meet certain minimum standards to be considered fit for human habitation.  This generally includes functioning heat, plumbing, electricity, and freedom from unsafe conditions.  A tenant who believes the property is bad should notify the landlord IN WRITING and request repairs.  DO NOT STOP PAYING RENT!
  5. Discrimination.  In Utah, as in most states, a landlord cannot refuse to rent due to a tenant’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, income or family status.  A tenant who believes they have been discriminated against can file a complaint with the Utah Anti-discrimination & Labor Division.
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Man Sentenced for Capturing Rainwater

rainOk . . . it didn’t really happen, but theoretically it could.  As water resources grow scarce due to drought, population growth, or other factors, many enterprising people have devised ways to capture rainwater that falls on their property for later use.

Be careful!  In most states capturing rainwater is either prohibited or regulated.  This may seem absurd at first, but the idea is that rainfall is public property and must be allowed to return naturally to the water table for the public good.

In Utah it is against the law to capture rainwater unless you have registered the use with the Utah Division of Water Rights.  Even with proper registration, Utah law restricts the aggregate capacity of all capture containers to 2,500 gallons.  There is, however, an exception to registration for small volume collection.  A person “may collect and store precipitation, without registering . . . in no more than two covered storage containers if neither covered storage container has a maximum storage capacity of greater than 100 gallons.” Utah Code Ann. § 73-3-1.5(4).

Registration is free and can be completed quickly online here.

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