What’s The State of Your Estate?

            There might be one or two of our readers out there who do not need a will, but most individuals should have a will – and that means one that is presently up to date and appropriate, not an old one whose provisions were meaningful once and may not be appropriate any longer.

            

            If you do not have a will, the State of Connecticut has enacted laws that determine what will happen to your property upon your death.  Sometimes the statutory provisions are perfectly fitting; but sometimes they are not all appropriate, particularly in this day and age when so many marriages are second marriages, and so many people have second families.

 

            Here are some answers to “Did you know that…?” questions.  See if they fit your situation.

 

1.         Your will is automatically revoked as a matter of state law upon one of these events: your marriage, your divorce or the annulment of your marriage, the birth of a child, or your legal adoption of a child – unless provision for the event is included in your present will.

 

2.         If you do not have a will, or if your will has been revoked by one of the events mentioned above, your estate is divided among your heirs is accordance with the statutory rules. (NO, IT DOES NOT “GO TO THE STATE”!!!!)

            These are the general rules that apply

            (a) If you are married with no children or parents living: everything goes to your spouse.

            (b) If you are married with no children but you do have parents living: the first

$ 100,000.00 plus ¾ of the balance of your estate goes to your spouse, with the remainder to your parents.

 

            (c) If you are married with children and your present spouse is the other parent of your children: the first $ 100,000.00 goes to your spouse plus ½ of the balance of your estate to your spouse with the remainder to your children.

 

            (d) If you are married with children, but your present spouse is not the parent of one or more of your children: ½ of your estate goes to your spouse and the other ½ is divided among your children.

            (e) If you are not married but you have children: everything goes to your children.

            (f) If you are not married and you have no children: everything goes to your parent(s) surviving you.

            (g) If you are not married with no children and no parents: everything goes to your brother and sisters.

           

After that comes rules about your “next of kin” and other situations, but it then becomes too complicated to write about in this limited space.

 

            PLEASE BE AWARE that any of the above may have an applicable exception or two that could apply to your particular situation or that you might have to know about, and that is why we must tell you that this article is not intended to be, nor should it be, used as legal advise for every situation.  For instance, ownership of assets “in survivorship” will take precedence over every one of the rules mentioned, and it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to know just how title to your property is held when you consider planning what is going to happen.  Consult your legal advisor – who is, or is going to be (we hope), our office.

 

3.         A “living trust” is the greatest thing to come along since broccoli – NOT.

            You may have been deluged with advertisements and telephone solicitations promoting “living trust” arrangements which virtually guarantee you wonderful benefits, if only you will order their document sets at prices ranging from $ 9.95 to

$ 139.95, or more.

 

            You may have heard that “living trusts” avoid outrageous lawyers’ fees and probate fees and keep your estate from, again, “all going to the State”.  We have been asked about these ads many times, and we have yet to see a significant benefit for our clients, considering the expense and inconvenience involved in setting up and maintaining a legally effective trust.  We won’t say it is never appropriate, but we haven’t come across a good reason to set one up for any of our clients yet.

 

            For one thing, the horror stories that are used as selling points all seem to refer to places outside of Connecticut.  This is probably because Connecticut’s probate system and probate courts were reformed many years ago and today are very accessible and are not expensive.  The fees allowed to be charged are all set by state law.  For example, the probate court fee for a $ 100,000.00 estate is approximately $ 370.00.  The fee goes up to approximately $ 620.00 for a $ 200,000.00 estate, $ 1,220.00 for a $ 500,000.00 estate, and so on.  Yes, there are added costs charged for postage for certified mail, for holding certain court hearings and other items, but they are generally negligible in the scheme of things – rarely adding up to more than $ 100.00 to the total probate fees.

 

            We hope that this article has: (a) reminded you that you need to have an updated will prepared and (b) taken some of the fear and trepidation out of the idea of doing so.

The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

This website has been created by Martocchio & Oliveira, LLC. Various discussions and analyses of the law are included on this web site in order to educate and inform the public with respect to legal matters. This information is not intended to be, nor should it be considered, legal advice for any particular individual or a solution for any apparently similar legal problem. Transmission and receipt of information from this web site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Unless otherwise specified, Martocchio & Oliveira, LLC lawyers are licensed to practice within the State of Connecticut and the information provided in this website is based upon the law as applied within the State of Connecticut.

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