Why should I have an Estate Plan?
An Estate Plan will ensure that your assets are distributed to your beneficiaries according to your wishes rather than state law. It will include instructions about what should happen if you become incapacitated for whatever reason. It will determine who will care for your children should something happen to you. It can also incorporate tax planning so neither you nor your family and beneficiaries will be unreasonably burdened with state or federal taxes.
What if I don’t have an Estate Plan?
Then you take your chances that things will turn out the way you would have desired in the event of death or incapacity.
Who should be involved in helping me create an Estate Plan?
Depending on your individual situation, a thorough Estate Plan may include an Estate Planning attorney, an accountant, a tax planning expert, and an elder law professional.
Do I need to worry about an Estate Plan once I have created one?
YES!!! An Estate Plan should be thought of as a living document. It should be reviewed with your attorney at least once a year or whenever there is a change of circumstance. An Estate Plan that hasn’t been reviewed periodically will almost certainly be found deficient in some way when it truly matters.
I have heard that I should do everything possible avoid the Probate Court. Is this true?
NO!! There are some states where avoiding probate is beneficial, but Connecticut is not one of them. That does NOT mean that you should not use “non-probate” instruments such as life insurance, 401k plans and the like as a part of your overall plan. But you should NOT take extreme measures simply to avoid probate. Probate fees in Connecticut are very reasonable and the probate process offers the advantage of having an impartial party overseeing the process.
Can I do the probate process myself?
Yes you can. There is information available online about what you need to do for the probate process. The Probate Court clerks will try to assist you but they will make it clear that they cannot offer any legal advice. Only you can decide if you have the time and patience to follow the process through to the end.
How long does the probate process take?
The best answer is – It varies. There are several steps that need to be completed throughout the process. There is a waiting period which allows potential creditors to file claims against the estate. Assets need to recorded, assessed for fair market value, and, in some cases, disposed of. One of the most important benefits of a proper estate plan is to ease the burden on remaining family members and executors and simplify the probate process.