Connecticut Wills, Trusts, and Probate

Drafting an estate plan can be a complex and emotional process. Many different documents may be included in your estate plan, including: a will, trust, healthcare surrogate designation, durable power of attorney, and/or advanced care directive. A Connecticut estate planning attorney can help you create the estate plan that is right for you, and can ensure that the documents in the plan are well crafted.

Regardless of your familial situation, age, or monetary situation, you should revise your will upon the occurrence of all major life events, including but not limited to divorce, death, marriage, birth, retirement and special needs. Keep your Connecticut will lawyer up to date on any changes that can affect your will.

Connecticut Will

Consult a Connecticut probate lawyer about your will and about meeting the requisite will formalities required in Connecticut. If you do not follow Connecticut legal requirements for your will, the court may consider your will invalid and your property may not be dispensed as you might wish. To validly create a will in Connecticut, you will need:

  • Witnesses: Two adult witnesses must be in the testator’s presence when he signs the will, and must then sign the will. Your witnesses should not be beneficiaries to the will.
  • Notarization: It is not necessary to have your will notarized in Connecticut. But, a notarized affidavit in which the witnesses to the will swear that the signature on the will is the testator’s signature, and that the witnesses have signed the will make the will self-proving. If you do not have a self-proving will, prior to your will being admitted to probate, your witnesses must attest to the will before the probate court.

Changing a Will in Connecticut

There are several ways to change your will in Connecticut. Whichever procedure you use to alter your will, make sure that you meet Connecticut procedural requirements for wills (i.e.-witnesses, proper signatures) to ensure that your property is correctly disbursed. To change your will in Connecticut:

  1. Amend or modify your will using a codicil (separate sheet of paper attached to the will)
  2. Write a new will that specifically revokes the old will and physically destroy your old will (by obliterating, canceling, burning, etc.).

If you are considering modifying or amending your will, discuss your situation with a Connecticut will attorney. Because certain requirements must be met, even when amending a will, a lawyer can help you meet these requirements.

Connecticut Trust

Consider using a trust as a way to allocate assets after your death. Trusts in Connecticut can be very valuable tools because they provide flexibility, confidentiality, and a chance to save on estate taxes and avoid the probate process. A trust can be created for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to: education, inter vivos, life insurance, special needs, and/or charity. Further, a trust can be revocable or irrevocable depending on your situation and desires.

Though trusts offer great benefits, they can also be complicated to set up and maintain. As such, you should consult a Connecticut trusts lawyer who specializes in trusts to help you construct your trust.

Connecticut Probate

When a Connecticut citizen dies and leaves a will, the assets mentioned in his will must go through probate. However, if the deceased does not leave a will, or if certain assets are not mentioned in the will, those assets will be distributed according to Connecticut laws of intestate succession. Intestate succession provides for the distribution of a decedent’s property based on a person’s degree of blood relationship to the deceased.

In Connecticut, when the decedent is ambiguous in his will, or when the decedent’s estate is distributed by intestate succession, and it is not clear what amount of assets a person should receive, or who should receive certain property, any interested person may ask the court to make a determination of beneficiaries of the will, or their shares of the assets.

Connecticut has abbreviated procedures in lieu of formal probate procedures when an estate is worth less than $40,000. If this is the case, an interested party may file an Affidavit of Small Estate with the probate court.

The following groups of people may inherit some of the decedent’s money or property based on their blood relationship to the decedent:

  1. Spouses
  2. Children (including adopted children)
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Brothers and sisters
  6. Grandparents
  7. Uncles and aunts
  • Certain property will not pass through probate:
    • non-probate assets – assets that pass immediately to a particular individual because the will or trust indicates that the money or property should go to that individual;
    • contract assets – Life insurance policies, inter vivos (living) trusts, IRAs or other assets payable to a particular recipient; and
    • jointly held property – assets owned by other parties and by the deceased that upon the deceased’s death are automatically transferred to the other parties (i.e.-houses, cars, or bank accounts).

The propriety of a will may be disputed long after its creation. A Connecticut probate lawyer who has expertise in Connecticut probate law can help ease your mind if you have any concerns about your will.

Connecticut Statutes

Connecticut Statutes, Title 45a – Probate Courts and Procedure

  1. Probate Code: Wills
    • Connecticut Probate Code, Tit. 45a, Chp. 802a, §§ 45a-250 to 45a-272.
  2. Probate Code: Intestate Succession
    • Connecticut Probate Code, Tit. 45a, Chp. 802b, § 45a-437.
  3. Probate Code: Administration of Estates
    • Connecticut Probate Code, Tit. 45a, Chp. 801, §§ 45a-1 to 45a-97.
  4. Connecticut Trust Code
    • Connecticut Probate Code, Tit. 45a, Chp. 802c, §§ 45a-471 to 45a-545.
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