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Greenwich Connecticut Estate Planning Law Blog

What is an attorney and what is a guardian ad litem?

There is often confusion in probate courts between attorneys' roles and a guardian ad litem. Connecticut's probate courts try to make their processes as accessible as possible, but there are limited opportunities for courts to help people find legal representation.

When does the court need to appoint an attorney?

Duties of an executor for your estate

The choice of an executor is one of the many considerations you will need to address as you plan your estate. This choice deserves as much careful planning and thought as the other provisions in your will.

Legally, you can choose almost any adult to act as your executor, including beneficiaries, family members or outside professionals. However, this position requires the appointee to fulfill a variety of duties. When deliberating on your choice, consider your candidate's ability and willingness to handle these duties competently.

Supreme Court case will determine guardianship of minor

Many people need others to take responsibility for their finances, basic needs or other aspects of life. All children start out as someone else's responsibility, while many senior citizens and some people with disabilities may find themselves subject to the need for help again.

Guardians are appointed by probate courts in Connecticut so that people have someone who is legally responsible for these needs. If there are disagreements about who should be a guardian or how they may act, courts may help resolve these problems.

When there's a will, there's less confusion in estate planning

People who are committed to their family, friends and causes will take time as early as necessary to see that their estate is disbursed to beneficiaries with clarity and finality after they're gone. Last wills and testaments join trust documents and other records of assets to create Connecticut's legal framework for estate planning.

Even the best plans, however, can be challenged as unfair or unclear. When relatives and other beneficiaries have disputes over the assets in a deceased person's estate, litigation in probate court is often the last resort. Probate courts are designed to make the most basic functions of civil law available to everyone.

IRS changes may make life harder for estate planners

Estate planning is more than a rich person's game. Clear wills and prearranged trusts can prevent needless arguments between inheritors with any size of bequest. However, rules and requirements for estate planning often get more complex when people are dealing with a larger estate.

One popular way of reducing the tax liability on estates that may see a tax on the owner's death is to make charitable contributions during the owner's lifetime. Another important deduction is the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, which allows people to deduct certain taxes paid to states and municipalities.

Conservators and guardians may breach the trust they are given

Facing a possible disability is always a difficult process. It often feels like a betrayal that a long and successful life may be rewarded with a reduced ability to take care of one's self. A betrayal can become quite literal, however, if someone abuses a legal arrangement to handle

The number of people requiring a guardian or conservator may increase as more members of the baby boomer generation enter the "danger age," the phase in life that may be met with decreased mental and physical abilities. Guardians and conservators have an ethical responsibility to serve the needs of the person with reduced abilities, while in effect they have a wide berth to exercise great power.

Will your will lead to battling beneficiaries?

One thing that no one wants after they're gone is to have their beneficiaries -- typically children and/or grandchildren --- squabbling over who got what from the estate.

Below are some red flags that your heirs might wind up haggling with one another.

3 tips for reducing estate taxes by giving to charity

One of your main estate planning goals is to minimize your tax burden. As you age, you may also start to consider what legacy you will leave behind. One way to reduce your taxes and feel good about yourself at the same time is through charitable giving. 

Giving to charity through your estate plan may sound like you are giving away your wealth to somebody else instead of your family, but it may help you eliminate taxes. This way, you can do what you please with your savings. Here are a few guidelines for achieving an estate plan with no tax consequences:

Do you need a will even if you don't have children?

People often use estate plans simply to designate how they are going to leave their assets to their children. Therefore, if you do not have any children, does that mean you do not need a plan?

It doesn't, but many people make the mistake of assuming that it does. That is part of the reason that the majority of Americans do not have a will.

1 major reason why people put off estate planning

You do a lot of financial planning in your life. You carefully consider every loan and every credit card. You put away money for retirement. You save up money for medical expenses. You consider every type of insurance you may need.

However, you also avoid doing your estate planning. It's perhaps the biggest financial plan you need for your entire life, but you put it off. You feel hesitant to talk about it. No one else wants to bring it up.

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