Probate and Wills
Probate is a legal term that refers to the local court in the deceased person's county of residence. The court supervises and approves the distribution of a person's assets according to their will. If they didn't leave a will, state law takes precedence. Whether you're the executor of the estate or an heir, it's crucial to understand the basics of probate.
+ Plainville and Bristol Attorneys Providing Estate Planning and Administration Services
When a family member passes away, the initial focus of the surviving loved ones is typically grieving and laying the person to rest. Eventually, the family members must settle the estate through the probate process. Disbursing a deceased person’s assets and paying their outstanding debts is typically an easier process if the person had a will. Therefore, all people should draft a will, regardless of their age or the value of their belongings. If you need assistance creating a will or have recently lost a loved one and require help with the probate process, the Plainville and Bristol probate and wills attorneys of Jainchill & Beckert, LLC, can advise you of your options and help you develop a plan that will suit your needs. We have more than five decades of joint experience handling probate matters and assisting people with the drafting of wills, and we are committed to helping you protect your interests.
+ Connecticut Laws Regarding Wills
Connecticut’s laws explicitly dictate the requirements for executing a valid will. Specifically, the testator, who is the person drafting the will, must be of sound mind and must be at least 18 years old. Additionally, the will must be in writing and signed by both the testator and at least two witnesses, while they are in the presence of the testator. In other words, an oral will is not valid. If a will was executed outside of Connecticut, it can be recognized under Connecticut law as long as it was executed in compliance with the laws of the state where it was drafted and signed. There are several ways a party can revoke a will, such as a testator tearing, burning, or canceling the will, or creating a subsequent will. Further, a divorce will act to revoke the testator’s gifts to a former spouse in a will. If you have questions whether your out-of-state will is valid in Connecticut or wish to prepare a new will, speak with our probate and wills lawyers in Plainville and Bristol.
+ The Probate Process in Connecticut
Probate is essentially the process of disbursing property in accordance with the terms of a will, via the courts. Thus, when a testator passes away, a party, generally the person named as the executor in the testator’s will, must apply to the court where the testator lived for the probate of the will. If no executor was named in the will, one will be named by the court. Generally, the executor is tasked with administering the estate with the court’s guidance.
After the will is submitted to the probate court, the court will usually have a hearing to determine the validity of the will. After a will is proven, the executor will take possession of all the property of the estate and create an inventory regarding the value of the estate’s assets. The executor may convert personal property that was not specifically bequeathed via the will into cash as needed to cover the costs of administration, taxes, and other similar expenses, but must obtain permission from the court to sell real estate. For will contests or complex estates, an executor may want to retain a Plainville and Bristol probate and wills lawyer to provide advice during the estate administration process. The court will also publish a newspaper notice advising any potential creditors of the testator’s death so that they may submit any outstanding claims to the estate. After any unpaid claims are dealt with, applicable estate taxes are paid, and a financial report is submitted to the court, assets will be distributed to any beneficiaries, and the estate will be closed.
It is important to note that certain assets, such as those the testator owned with another party as a joint tenant with a right of survivorship, property in a trust, and life insurance policies or retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, do not have to go through the probate process. Additionally, if the value of an estate is below a certain threshold, it will be considered a small estate and will not have to go through probate either.
+ Confer with a Skillful Lawyer in Connecticut
It is important for all people to draft thorough and detailed wills and to regularly review their wills to determine they need to be updated to reflect changes in life events. If you need assistance drafting, revising, or handling the probate of a will, our probate and wills attorneys in Plainville and Bristol can help. At Jainchill & Beckert, LLC, we help people in Connecticut with estate planning and administration from drafting and updating wills to guiding family members and executors with the probate process. Our office is located in Plainville, and we frequently help people in Plainville and Bristol, as well as in other cities throughout Connecticut, such as Farmington, Hartford, Southington, and New Britain. You can contact us through our form online or at 860-845-6879 to set up a meeting.