Are you looking to handle a probate estate in Connecticut but aren’t sure where to start? One of the first steps is deciding what type of an estate you will be probating. The type of estate you are probating will determine the forms that do or do not need to filed, and will determine how much time the probate process will take.
ESTATES FOR TAX PURPOSES ONLY
In cases where there are no probate assets solely in the decedent’s name, the estate must still report any non-probate assets by filing an estate tax return with the Probate Court. Such estates are commonly termed “tax purposes only estates” or TPO estates.
In case where there are solely owned assets, there are two distinct probate procedures: the small estate procedure and the full estate process. The selection between the two procedures is controlled by the value and nature of the assets within the estate.
SMALL ESTATE PROCEDURE
If the decedent’s solely owned assets are valued at $40,000 or less (excluding solely owned real property), the estate may qualify to be settled as a small estate. Real property encompasses land and buildings, including condominiums, while personal property includes assets like bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and tangible personal items (such as art, furniture, antiques, jewelry, automobiles, etc.).
This streamlined procedure doesn’t involve the admission of a will, the appointment of an executor or administrator, and removes some steps usually required in estate administration.
If the decedent’s solely owned property exceeding $40,000 in value or involves real property, the initiation of a full estate proceeding may be necessary. This requirement holds true even if the estate lacks assets or if the assets are solely personal property valued at less than $40,000. A full estate may also be required for purposes such as initiating legal action on behalf of the estate (e.g., a wrongful death action), continuing litigation commenced before the decedent’s death, or collecting a debt owed by the estate.
If the decedent left a will, the estate is termed “testate.” Upon validating the will, the court admits it to probate and appoints an executor to settle the estate. The decree admitting the will is sometimes known as “letters testamentary,” and those designated in the will to receive the decedent’s property are called beneficiaries.
In the absence of a will, the estate is termed “intestate.” The court grants administration and appoints an administrator to settle the estate. Heirs, the individuals receiving property from an intestate estate, are determined by the laws of intestacy, which specify both the heirs and their respective shares.
Do you need a lawyer to settle a probate estate?
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of handling a probate on your own, you should consider hiring a licensed attorney to assist you in the process. The attorney will be able to guide you to choosing the proper estate to open, compiling any documents that need to filed, distributing assets, complying with any court orders, and any other items necessary to settle the estate.