Connecticut Wills

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Connecticut Will Requirements

What are the statutory requirements of making a Connecticut Will? The statute governing Connecticut Wills is contained in Title 45a Probate Courts and Procedure. All section numbers displayed on this page refer to this legislation. Only persons that are at least eighteen years old and are of sound mind are legally entitled to make a Connecticut Will and Testament. 45a-250

Formal Execution Requirements

A Connecticut Last Will & Testament needs to be:

  • In writing;
  • Subscribed by the testator; and
  • Attested by two witnesses (each of them in the testator’s presence). 45a-251

 Connecticut also accepts Wills executed outside the state if executed in compliance with the laws of that state or country.

Who can witness Connecticut Last Will and Testaments?

Any person who is generally a competent witness is capable of attesting a Connecticut Will. However, neither the witness nor their husband or wife is able to receive a gift under the Will. Any such gift becomes void. 45a-258 This does not apply where the recipient is a community, church, society, association or corporation; gifts to these entities are still valid even if the Will is witnessed by a person who has an interest in the organization.

How may Connecticut Wills be revoked?

The legislation provides two ways to revoke (cancel) an executed Will:

  • Burning, cancelling, tearing or obliterating; or
  • By a later Will or Codicil. 45a-257

Problems can arise if the Connecticut Will is not revoked properly. Lawyers generally advise to undertake both methods (ie: making a new Will which expressly revokes the former and by physically destroying the old Will).

Does divorce revoke my Connecticut Will?

No. Only provisions in favor of your former spouse are revoked (unless the Will expressly provides otherwise). Provisions which become void include any disposition or appointment of property to your former spouse, any provision conferring a special or general power of appointment and any nomination of him/her as executor, trustee, conservator, guardian or other fiduciary. 45a-257c

How can I provide for my pet?

Connecticut legislation does not allow you to gift any amounts to pets under Connecticut Wills, not even in the form of a trust. Generally, the pet stays with the remaining family in the household. Alternatively, you may wish to specify a beneficiary to inherit your pets under your Last Will and Testament. However, that person is not obliged to look after your pet. Be sure to speak with the intended person first to ensure they are willing to care for your animal.

Self-Proving the Will

A Connecticut Last Will and Testament may be proved outside of court by having the witnesses sign an affidavit before an authorized officer. Such affidavit can be written on the Will or if impracticable, on some paper attached to the Will. The self-proving affidavits provide further authenticity to Connecticut Wills. The court is allowed to accept the affidavits in probate as though the statement was taken before the court. 45a-285

Connecticut Probate Process

What are the requirements of submitting a Will to probate in Connecticut? What are the rights and obligations of each party?

Person must deliver Connecticut Will

The person who has possession of the testator’s Connecticut Last Will and Testament and any codicil must deliver it to the probate court or to the executor within 30 days of becoming aware of the death. Failure to do so entitles to court to fine the person up to $1,000 or impose a one year imprisonment term (or both). 45a-282

Will in Safety Deposit Box

If the deceased left a safety deposit box solely in his name, then the court may issue an order to open the box to obtain any Will or cemetery deed that may be contained in the box. The order may be applied for by the spouse, next of kin or any person who has a sufficient interest in the presence of a Connecticut Will. Once granted, the box must be opened in the presence of a bank officer, who has an obligation to report back to the probate court. 45a-284

Executor must apply for Probate

The executor named in the Connecticut Will must apply for probate of the Will within 30 days of the death. A fine of $100 or 30 days imprisonment or both may be imposed for failing to do so. 45a-283 A Connecticut Last Will and Testament cannot be accepted for probate after 10 years from the date of death 45a-330. Exceptions apply.

Probating the Will

After an application has been received, the court must hold a hearing. Personal or public notice (depending on the court’s requirements) must be given to all persons interested in the estate. Notice will not be required where the estate is only enough to pay administration and funeral expenses and the costs of the deceased’s last sickness. 45a-286 After the hearing, the court will either admit the Connecticut Will to probate or reject it.

Appointing a Personal Representative

The personal representative is the person who administers the estate and is usually the person named as executor in the Connecticut Will. If no person is named, the court appoints an administrator. 45a-290 Provided they are entitled to share in the deceased’s estate, the following persons have priority to be administrator:

  • The spouse;
  • Any of the deceased’s children (or his/her guardian);
  • Any grandchild of the deceased (or his/her guardian);
  • The deceased’s parents;
  • Brother or sister;
  • Next of kin;
  • Any other person deemed proper by the court. 45a-303

Small Estates

An estate is considered to be small if it consists only of personal property prescribed by the statute and does not exceed the sum of $40,000. 45a-273 Probate of the Connecticut Will is generally not required in small estates. An affidavit or statement signed under penalty of false statement needs to be filed with the probate court. Once filed, the court may issue a decree authorizing transfer of the personal property. If the estate exceeds the total amount of claims (including the family allowance), then the court must determine how the excess is distributed depending on whether the decedent left a valid Connecticut Last Will and Testament.

Who may file the small estate affidavit?

  • The surviving spouse;
  • If there is no surviving spouse, the deceased’s next of kin;
  • If there is no next of kin, any suitable person as long as the court deems they have a sufficient interest in the estate. 45a-273

Connecticut Estate Tax

The Connecticut succession / inheritance tax no longer applies. However, the state still has an estate tax and a Connecticut Estate and Gift Tax Return (CT-706/709) needs to be filed with the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services if the amount of the taxable estate exceeds $2,000,000. If the estate is $2,000,000 or less, the estate needs to file a Form 706 NT, Connecticut Estate Tax Return (for Non-taxable Estates) with the probate court (not with the DRS). The judge issues a written opinion as to whether any Connecticut estate tax applies. If the court deems no tax is due, a certificate of release of estate tax lien is issued by the probate court.

Contesting a Connecticut Will

Starting a Will contest is a form of litigation. There are limited circumstances where an heir, beneficiary or other interested person may issue proceedings to challenge a Connecticut Will and Testament.

Reasons for Challenging

If a Connecticut Will is contested, the court holds a formal hearing. There needs to be valid grounds for challenging the Will. Being unsatisfied with the amount given is not sufficient grounds to object to the Will. Sufficient grounds include undue influence, fraud, lack of testamentary capacity and improper execution of the Connecticut Will.

Executor’s Costs & Expenses

In contest cases, the court may award the executor his/her reasonable expenses in defending the Will (whether the Connecticut Last Will and Testament is upheld or not). This also applies in case of an appeal. The costs come out of the estate pro rata against each person’s share. 45a-294

Excluding Your Spouse or Children from a Connecticut Will

Disinheriting a spouse or child from your Connecticut Will is not as simple as omitting their names from the document. Like many states, Connecticut provides basic entitlements for family members upon death of their spouse or parent. Some entitlements apply regardless of the Connecticut Last Will and Testament. Before disinheriting a family member, contact a qualified attorney for advice.

Excluding Your Spouse

Here are some basic rights your spouse is entitled to if you try to exclude him/her from your Connecticut Last Willor leave only a nominal amount:

  • A statutory share; being a life estate of one-third in value of all real and personal property passing under your Will. 45a-436
  • Use of the family car during the estate settlement 45a-320(c);
  • A right to occupy the family home up until it’s sold or distributed; 45a-321
  • The court may also award your spouse a reasonable allowance for his/her support during the settlement of the estate. 45a-320(a)

Also, if you made a Will prior to your marriage which does not mention your spouse, don’t rely on this for excluding your spouse. If this ends up being your Connecticut Last Will & Testament, your spouse will be entitled to the same portion of your estate as though you had died intestate (without making a Will). This applies unless it appears from the Will that the omission was intentional or unless you had already provided for your spouse 45a-257a. Don’t worry your spouse won’t be entitled to both an intestate share and a statutory share.

Excluding a Child or Children

Although children aren’t entitled to an elective share of your estate, the court may still award a reasonable allowance for their maintenance during the settlement of your estate. 45a-320 Also remember, if you have a child by birth or adoption (including children born by artificial insemination to which you consented) after the making of your Connecticut Will, that child is entitled to a share of your estate. The portion depends on whether you had children at the time of making the Connecticut Last Will and Testament, the clauses in your Will and how much was devised to such children. It is possible to exclude this rule from your Will expressly or by making a provision to the after-born or after-adopted child. In any event, you should always have your Connecticut Last Will & Testament updated after having or adopting a child. 45a-257c

Dying Without a Will – Connecticut Intestacy Rules

If you die without a valid Connecticut Will, your property is distributed in accordance with the state intestacy laws. In Connecticut, like most states, the first share is reserved for the spouse. Any balance remaining passes to your other heirs.

What portion does my spouse get?

The share going to your spouse depends on the surviving family members as follows:

  • The entire estate if you left no issue (children or grandchildren) and no parents;
  • The first $100,000 plus ¾ of the balance if you left a parent or parents but no issue;
  • The first $100,000 plus ½ of the balance if you left issue (all of whom are also issue of your spouse);
  • ½ of the intestate estate if you left issue (one or more of who are not issue of your spouse). 45a-437

Who receives the balance?

Any share which does not pass to your spouse is distributed as follows (in the order of priority set out below):

    1. Divided equally between your children (or their legal representatives if they have predeceased you). Any advancements made to such children in your lifetime are deducted;
  • To your parents (unless they had abandoned you);
  • Your brothers and sisters and those who legally represent them;
  • Equally to your next of kin in equal degree;
  • To your stepchildren or their legal representatives.
  • If there are no persons entitled, then your property escheats to the State Treasurer of Connecticut as abandoned property. 45a-452

Intestacy Law where husband dies without a Connecticut Will. Share of wife & children: Corey passed away without a Will. He had two children with his wife Eva. His estate is worth $300,000. Who gets what? Eva: $200,000, Eva & Corey’s Children: $50,000 each. Intestate distribution to husband & deceased wife’s mother where wife dies without a Will: Lucy died leaving an estate of $300,000. She had no will. She left behind her husband and her mother. Who gets what? Husband: $250,000, Mother: $50,000. No Connecticut Will made, wife died, portion of husband, children & stepchild: Holly died leaving $300,000. She had no will. She has two children to her husband Ben. Ben also has a child from a former partner. Who gets what? Ben: $200,000, Ben & Holly’s children: $50,000 each, Ben’s child from former partner: Nil. Intestate succession, how much does husband & children receive where wife dies without a Connecticut Will: Neil died leaving an estate of $300,000. He had no will. He had two children to his wife Sue, to whom he was married for 10 years. Neil also has a child from a former partner. Who gets what? Sue: $150,000, Neil & Sue’s 2 children: $50,000 each, Neil’s child from former partner: $50,000.

Connecticut Will Forms

Note: Before making a Connecticut Will you should either research or obtain attorney advice on:

  • Preparing, signing and witnessing a Last Will and Testament
  • Distributing your property including specific bequests and the residue
  • Appointing an Executor
  • Creating a Trust
  • Appointing a Trustee to look after trust property of minor children or other beneficiaries
  • Designating a guardian for your minor children

Sample Will forms available as free downloads (printable PDF documents):

Connecticut Will Form: Married with adult children
Connecticut Will Form: Married with adult and/or minor children, includes a trust for minor children
Connecticut Will Form: Married with no children

Connecticut Will Form: Single with adult children
Connecticut Will Form: Single with adult and/or minor children, includes a trust for minor children
Connecticut Will Form: Single with no children

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