CT Laws on Wills & Estates

By Beverly Bird

When someone dies in Connecticut, the executor -- the person appointed in the will to carry out its terms -- has 30 days to submit the will to the probate court in the county where the deceased lived. The exception is if the deceased’s entire estate is valued at less than $40,000 and includes no real estate that requires transfer of title.

Making a Will

You can make a will in Connecticut if you are 18 years of age or older and of sound mind. Two witnesses must sign it in your presence. One of the witnesses can be the person you named as executor. However, if one is a beneficiary and is not directly related to you, then you must have one more witness in addition to that person. Connecticut does not recognize handwritten wills that are not signed by witnesses or wills made orally.

Disinheritance

If you neglect to include your spouse in your will and it was made before you married her, she has the right to renounce your will and accept an elective share of your estate instead. Exceptions are if you provided for her in some other way, such as through a living trust, or if your executor can prove that the omission was intentional. The share is one-third of your entire estate. Your children will also receive a share according to Connecticut’s statutes if they were born after you made your will. The percentage depends on how many children you have. However, you can override this law by expressly stating in your will that you are disinheriting one or all of them.

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Estate Exemptions

Whether you leave a will or not, Connecticut allows your immediate family a personal allowance to live on off the top of your estate before other bequests or debts and taxes are paid. How much and how long is up to the discretion of the probate court. It is usually for the amount of time necessary to settle your estate. The court can also allow your immediate family the use of your car for as long as it takes to settle probate.

Revoking a Will

Connecticut law allows you to revoke your will by burning, tearing or destroying it, or by making a new one that revokes it. However, if you revoke the second will before you die, the first one is considered valid again. Since October 1, 1967, divorce automatically revokes all provisions pertaining to your ex-spouse, including bequests or naming him as executor.

Dying Without a Will

If you die without a will and the state takes over the probate of your estate, your next of kin will inherit according to an order of succession prescribed by state laws. Your spouse gets everything if you have no children and your parents are deceased. If you parents are alive, your spouse gets the first $100,000 of your estate and three-quarters of the remainder -- your parents get the rest. If you have children together, your spouse gets the first $100,000 and half of the balance. If you have children from another relationship, she gets half of the value of your estate and they get the rest.

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Who Inherits if There's No Will in Connecticut?
 

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Wills in Maine

Maine’s statutes regarding wills are on par with other states. You must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old to make a will in the state, and your signature requires two witnesses. Maine allows your witnesses to also be beneficiaries. Self-proved wills are accepted and eligible for simplified probate proceedings after your death. To self-prove your will, you and your witnesses must sign a second sworn statement indicating that it is authentic, and attach the statement to the will.

What Effect Does a Divorce Have on a Will in Georgia?

Georgia is the only state, as of 2010, to allow a testator, or the person making a will, to disinherit a spouse. This makes the state one of the safest places to get a divorce from the perspective of planning your estate. There is no window of time when a spouse can be granted part of your estate if you die while you are separated or your divorce is in progress but before it is final.

New York State Marital Inheritance Laws

In New York, as elsewhere, marriage gives spouses certain indelible rights when their partner dies. These inheritance laws typically override any estate planning that spouses might make that contradicts the statutes. If you try to disinherit your spouse in New York, it won't work. If you deliberately leave her out of your will, or leave her only a small token amount, New York law will give her a portion of your estate anyway.

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