A Connecticut last will and testament is a legal document that allows individuals to plan how they want their estate and affairs to be handled after they pass away. The document will commonly provide instructions for who will oversee the distribution of their estate, who the beneficiaries of their assets will be, and how their property will be divided between their beneficiaries. If the person has any minor children, there will often be provisions in the will for their guardianship and support.
State law allows any person who is 18 or older and “of sound mind” to make a will.
Holographic Wills – A handwritten will made and signed in Connecticut has the same statutory signing requirements as any other will.
Revocation – To revoke a will, the testator, or someone at their direction, must burn, cancel, tear, or obliterate it. If the testator’s marriage ends by dissolution, divorce, or annulment, any provisions in the spouse’s favor are automatically revoked.
Signing Requirements – A will must be witnessed by two individuals who sign in the testator’s presence.
Probate Process in Connecticut (10 steps)
Within 30 days of learning of a decedent’s death, any person with the decedent’s will in their possession must deliver it to:
- The named executor; or
- The probate court with jurisdiction over the decedent’s last residence.
The executor, if aware of their role, has 30 days to apply for probate after the decedent’s death.
- File the Petition
- Take Possession of Estate Property
- Probate Bond (If Applicable)
- File Notice for Land Records (If Applicable)
- File Inventory Form
- Payment of Expenses and Claims
- File and Pay Taxes
- File Financial Report or Administration Account Form
- Distribute Assets
- File Affidavit of Closing Estate
If the decedent’s estate has an estimated value of $40,000 or less, probate can be bypassed by filing an Affidavit in Lieu of Probate of Will with the local probate court. Form PC-212CI and, if the estate value exceeds the total of any outstanding expenses, Form PC-212A must also be completed and filed with the affidavit.
To begin the probate of a will, the executor named in the will must complete and file Petition for Probate of Will (Form PC-200), along with the decedent’s original will and a certified copy of their death certificate with the local probate court. The Department of Health will provide the death certificate upon request. Once completed and filed, the petitioner will need to deliver copies of the petition and will to all beneficiaries of the estate.
There are three possibilities for the court hearing:
- The court arranges a hearing for the petition.
- All the beneficiaries file a General Waiver (Form PC-181) with the probate court.
- The court uses a streamlined process whereby the beneficiaries receive notice of their right to schedule a hearing.
If no hearing is required, the court may issue a decree to open probate without the presence of any interested parties. The decree officially appoints the executor (the “fiduciary”) and sets the date by which the estate’s administration must be completed.
If a hearing is required, notices will be given, and a hearing will be held where interested parties may raise any questions or concerns before the court issues a decree.
Upon appointment, the fiduciary will be required to provide a probate bond for an amount specified by the court. However, a bond isn’t required if:
- The estate is worth less than $20,000.
- Estate assets unrestricted by probate are worth less than $10,000.
- The will or its beneficiaries waive the bond requirement.
The fiduciary’s first duty is to take possession of all the decedent’s assets and property by transferring under the estate. Before transferring bank accounts and investments into the estate’s name, the fiduciary will need to obtain a taxpayer ID number (TIN) from the IRS.
If the decedent’s estate contains any real property, the fiduciary must complete the Notice for Land Records Form (Form PC-251) and file it with the clerk for each Connecticut town where the decedent’s real estate is located (the form can be obtained from the court). This must be completed within two months of the fiduciary’s appointment.
Within two months of their appointment, the fiduciary must prepare and file with the court an inventory of all the decedent’s assets using Form PC-2407 and file it with the court. The inventory will need to list any property that is in the decedent’s name, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, life insurance policies, and motor vehicles.
Once completed, the fiduciary must send copies of the inventory to all parties with an interest in the estate and certify on the form that service was completed.
Within 14 days of the fiduciary’s appointment, the court will publish a notice in a local newspaper that informs the decedent’s creditors to direct any claims against the estate to the fiduciary. Creditors have 150 days from the fiduciary’s appointment date to submit claims, and the fiduciary has 90 days to reject, allow, or pay a claim after receiving it.
Fiduciary’s Notice to Creditors
To shorten the window for creditors to make claims, the fiduciary can choose to complete the Fiduciary’s Notice to Creditors to Present Claims (Form PC-234) and deliver it to the decedent’s creditors, giving them 90 days’ notice to submit claims.
Return of Claims
Within 60 days following the deadline for creditors to make claims, the fiduciary must complete and file the form Return of Claims and List of Notified Creditors (Form PC-237) which reports all claims and whether they were accepted or rejected.
Selling Estate Property
If estate funds are insufficient to pay all debts and expenses, the fiduciary can sell the decedent’s property to raise funds with the court’s permission. Before selling anything, notice must be given to the beneficiaries, who will be given five days to refuse the transaction.
If the gross estate plus adjusted taxable gifts exceeds the federal exemption amount, the fiduciary must also file a federal estate tax return.
Income & Property Tax
In addition to filing the estate tax form, the fiduciary will be required to file the decedent’s state and federal tax returns and declare any income made by the estate during the administration. Any income and property taxes owed on behalf of the decedent and their estate must be paid before probate can be closed.
After paying the estate’s debts, expenses, and taxes, the fiduciary will be required to complete and file a financial report or account detailing all payments, income, and distributions made by the estate. The document will also relay how the remaining estate will be distributed between the beneficiaries.
The court will instruct the fiduciary on which document they will be required to complete and file:
- Financial Report Decedent’s Estate (Form PC-246)
- In most cases, this simpler report is asked for.
- Decedent’s Estate Administration Account (Form PC-242)
- If statutorily required, the court will require this more formal accounting.
Once the fiduciary has completed the report or account, they must deliver copies to all interested parties. The court will hold a hearing to review the report or account and notify the parties. Alternatively, the court may choose to streamline the process and send notice to interested parties relaying that they can request a hearing. If no party requests a hearing, or all parties submit one of the below waivers, the court will issue a decree approving the final accounting.
- Waiver of Right to Hearing Re: Financial Report (Form PC-244A)
- Waiver of Right to Hearing Re: Account (Form PC-245)
If no objections are raised, the court will issue a decree stating that the report or account is approved.
If probate remains open for longer than one year, the fiduciary must complete and file a Status Update/Decedent’s Estate (Form PC-286) three months after the year anniversary of their appointment.
Within 30 days of distributing the estate, the fiduciary will need to complete and file the Affidavit of Closing (Form PC-213), which reports any receipts or distributions made after the Financial Report or Administration Account was filed.
Once the affidavit has been filed, the fiduciary will have completed their duties. If a bond was posted, the court will deliver a certificate to the bond issuer indicating that probate is complete and they should terminate the bond.