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Greenwich Connecticut Estate Planning Law Blog

How do executors prepare to work with a will?

Executors of wills can feel awkward when it finally comes to time to fulfill their duties to the holders of estates. Although it is a solemn and somber task to handle the possessions of the deceased, probate courts try to lighten the burden.

  • How can an executor get the legal right to administer an estate?

The will of the deceased person must be filed and the executor of the estate must file a petition to administer the will. A probate court may hold a hearing on this petition so family members or other interested parties can learn about the process and pose questions if they have any.

  • What does an executor need to do to prepare an estate?

Parents of autistic children may plan to become conservators

The phrase "on the spectrum" has become an amorphous idea for many people, some of whom think it applies to any strange behavior as a way to make themselves more comfortable. The term is no joke for relatives of people with actual autism spectrum disorders, and the difference between functional and nonfunctional personalities could not be clearer.

More than 2 percent of children in the United States were diagnosed with autism, Asperger syndrome, pervasive development disorder or another autism spectrum disorder. This is more than a threefold increase from the year 2000. Relatives, especially parents and guardians, end up doing much of the work of helping these children overcome social and emotional difficulties and live a full and happy life.

Keeping harmony in the family with smart estate planning

The more complex your estate, the more you worry about how and what your children should inherit after you are gone. Ideally, you want everyone to be happy, but you suspect there may be some infighting over assets. Here are four estate planning tips for maintaining harmony among your heirs.

1. Name the right trustee

Remarriages may cause trouble for estate plans

Fewer than 20 percent of divorced people remarry, but more than half of divorcees aged 55 years or more retie the knot. Most people are more cautious when stepping down the aisle for the second or third time, but some still make mistakes like providing for people in their families. A new marriage without proper estate planning may cause financial problems for children and others from previous marriages.

Most parents want their children to benefit from properties, financial assets, stocks and retirement savings upon their death. Many of these thoughts come up during a first marriage or at the birth of a child, but new marriages can throw all those plans out the window. Wills may be invalidated by new personal arrangements, leaving decisions on inheritances to the state.

Probate judge rules on lawyer fees, debts in contested estate

Probate courts exist in Connecticut for a variety of reasons, but all are related to making sure that citizens have access to the basic functions the courts provide. Probate judges can rule on or approve plans to assign a guardian to a minor, create a conservatorship for someone who needs assistance with everyday financial needs and help convey inheritances to the right people or organizations -- among other duties.

Courts may also help determine when certain funds from an estate may be used prior to their dispersal to inheritors or beneficiaries. A probate judge in West Hartford recently ruled on the use of money from a trust fund for expenses incurred by a young man deeply embroiled in a legal battle with family members over the money in that trust (among other issues).

Who needs a conservator and how is one appointed?

Most people are familiar with the concept of a guardian, especially when it concerns a child whose parents are somehow absent. Conservatorship, however, is often less understood even if some of the principles are similar to guardianship. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive about conservators.

What are the functions of a conservator?

What comes after a will in estate planning?

The first part of the estate planning process that most people would mention is a last will and testament. A will is the most fundamental part of a good estate plan, but it is certainly not the only part. People will all levels of wealth and various assets should be ready to put their relatives and partners at ease with a proper plan.

What are the parts of a solid estate plan?

How to avoid common estate planning pitfalls

For most residents of Connecticut, the primary goal of creating an estate plan is to maximize their wealth and leave as much of it as possible behind for their loved ones. The estate planning process, however, can prove tremendously complex in some circumstances. Many people make similar mistakes that end up costing them considerably in the long run.

So, what are some of today’s most common estate planning errors, and how can you avoid making them yourself?

How are disagreements over guardianship resolved?

It's not easy to navigate the best choices for children, especially if they may involve tough decisions. Connecticut probate courts are there for parents, relatives and other responsible adults to gain custody or guardianship of children. Courts are also places to dispute decisions made over these issues.

How would someone gain custody of a child?

How are conservators and guardians assigned?

One of the main functions of probate courts in Connecticut is the assignment of conservators and guardians for people who cannot legally handle their own affairs. Both positions carry a lot of power over a person's life, and they carry a lot of responsibility. As a result, courts take the assignment of conservators and guardians very seriously.

  • What is the difference between a conservator and a guardian?

A guardian is required for a minor up to the age of 18, while a conservator takes care of affairs for an adult who is incapable of doing so because of mental incapacity or medical disability. A probate court cannot rule on either appointment until the subject has lived in Connecticut for six months or more.

  • What if a person needs a conservator upon turning 18?

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