Sometimes, the word probate gets a bit of a bad rap. While you may have heard that you should find ways to avoid probate at all costs, the process in Connecticut can be simple and straightforward – if you know what you’re doing! You will find the process of settling a probate estate much easier, however, by working with an experienced probate attorney. I have helped numerous Connecticut families navigate the probate process to settle an estate or seek a conservatorship, and I can help you as well.
What Happens in Probate Court?
The purpose of probate in Connecticut is to settle estates according to the deceased’s wishes. When the court is presented with the deceased person’s Last Will and Testament, the court will confirm the document is valid and will appoint an Executor or Executrix. If the deceased person didn’t have a Last Will and Testament, the court will appoint an Administrator or Administratrix to settle the estate. More specifically, the probate court will:
- Safeguard the decedent’s property
- Pay valid debts and taxes
- Distribute the remaining assets according to the decedent’s wishes (or Connecticut intestate law if there is no Will)
Not every estate will have to go through the complete process, but most estates will need to have some probate documents filed. The process can be similar whether the decedent died with a Will, known as “testate,” or without a Will, or “intestate.” If there was no Will, the probate judge will distribute assets according to Connecticut law.
When Does a Connecticut Estate Need Probate?
The three types of probate estates in Connecticut are:
- First, a Tax Purposes Only Estate is used when the deceased person’s assets were either owned jointly, were held in trust, or had named beneficiaries. There’s no probate administration, but Connecticut puts a lien on any real estate owned by the decedent, and that lien needs to be released by filing a Connecticut Estate Tax Return with the probate court and paying a probate fee.
- Next, a Small Estate is needed when the deceased person’s assets were worth less than $40,000. There won’t be any estate tax due, but a Connecticut Estate Tax Return will have to be filed with the probate court to calculate the probate fee due. Creditors still need to be paid, and any remaining assets are distributed.
- And, finally, a Full Estate is required when the deceased person’s assets were worth more than $40,000. A fiduciary must be appointed, and an Inventory of Estate Assets filed. A Notice to Creditors is published in the paper. A Return of Claims made by creditors and a Final Accounting must be filed. A Connecticut Estate Tax Return will have to be filed with the probate court to calculate estate tax and probate fees due. Only after the judge approves the Final Accounting will beneficiaries receive any distributions.
For many people, this can be a very confusing and frustrating process, whichever form the estate may take. I can help you determine which type of estate is needed and guide you through the process to diminish any concerns you might have about getting it right.
Other Reasons You May Need a Probate Attorney
In addition to settling estates, Connecticut probate courts also handle matters concerning the care of dependents who are unable to care for themselves, including incapacitated adults, minor children, and adults with developmental disabilities. The following appointments may be made through probate court:
- Conservatorship. When a person fails to plan for his own incapacity by naming a power of attorney while he is still competent, the probate court will appoint a conservator to make financial and healthcare decisions on his behalf. This may be a voluntary or involuntary process, depending on the abilities of the person in question. Family members or close friends are often appointed as conservators by the court.
- Guardianship. When a person with minor children passes away, and guardians are named in a will, the probate court will confirm and supervise the appointment. If you are seeking guardianship of an adult with intellectual disabilities, the probate court will have to approve the appointment and will supervise the relationship.
Situations involving minors or adults requiring a conservatorship or guardianship can be tricky. I know the process inside and out and can help to make certain the dependent’s needs are met in the least restrictive and best possible way.
Mark Connell Brings Compassion to Probate Law
After the death of a loved one, I understand how difficult it can be to have to face a court proceeding to settle an estate. That’s why I work hard to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible. After a diverse career that included scientific research and healthcare, I became a lawyer to help people in times of need. When a loved one has passed away, contact my firm by filling out the form below or by calling me at (203) 488-5586. I will listen to your story and explain how I can help.