Probate is the process where the Probate Court oversees the payment of any taxes or debts owed by the decedent and the division of assets in the decedent's estate. The term "probate" is a Latin term that means, "to prove the will." However, if there is no will, the person is said to have died "intestate," and the property will be divided according to the decedent's heirs in accordance with the laws of intestacy. In Connecticut, the laws governing intestacy are found starting in Chapter 802b, Section 45a-437 of the Connecticut General Statutes.
Purpose of Probate
The probate process ensures that any final bills and expenses of the decedent, including any outstanding taxes are paid, and if the decedent left a will, the assets of the estate are properly distributed to named beneficiaries in the will. If the decedent died intestate, the assets of the estate are distributed according to intestate laws. The Connecticut Probate Code delineates the probate court procedures, execution of wills, and intestate succession laws.
Probate Court Process
A decedent who executed a will is referred to as the "testator", and within 30 days of the testator's death, the will must be submitted to the Probate Court in the district where the decedent last permanently lived. Typically, the "executor," the person the testator named in the will as a fiduciary, submits the will to the Probate Court along with a petition to initiate the probate process. Additionally, if there are "codicils," which are additions or amendments to a will, these must be filed with the Probate Court within 30 days of the testator's death. The Probate Court is responsible for first determining the will is valid as a legal document.
If the person died intestate, then an application for appointment of an administrator must be filed with the Probate Court. The administrator's duties are substantially the same as the executor's duties in that both are responsible for the payment of debts and the division of assets from the estate.
Simplified Probate Administration in Connecticut
Connecticut has a Simplified Procedure for Small Estates, where if the total value of the estate is $40,000 or less and the decedent did not own any real estate, except survivorship property, and the estate only consists of mostly personal property, a simplified procedure for settling the estate may be used. A simplified probate administration is an expedited process. The appointment of an administrator or submitting the will for probate is not necessary. Additionally, if the assets exceed expenses, and the will's terms are consistent with the laws of intestate succession, the Probate Court will order the distribution of assets according to the laws of intestacy, and no will has to be admitted to probate.
Our attorneys are highly experienced with probate law, and have handled estates of all sizes and complexities, ranging from simple estates to large estates comprised of business interests, real estate and assets located in more than one state. Administering a loved one's estate is a significant responsibility, and making sure matters are settled in the most efficient and complete manner offers peace of mind for you and other surviving friends and family members.
Contested Probate Matters
Our attorneys handle will contests and contested estates - where there is a dispute over which Last Will and Testament controls and/or whether the Testator had the capacity to make his/her dispositions by Will and/or whether he/she was improperly influenced by others, and/or where estate assets have been squandered by others. Our attorneys have acted in the capacity of conservator over certain clients.
In addition to offering experienced representation in probate administration, our attorneys have expertise in creating wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives and living wills. We offer efficient, cost-effective services and tax-sensitive, personalized estate planning designed to achieve your goals and objectives. For experienced assistance with your estate planning and probate administration needs, contact the attorneys at Kenny, Brimmer, and Mahoney LLC.