Estate Planning is of significant importance to protect your assets and to direct to whom and where you wish to leave your assets upon your death and that of your spouse. A Will is your written directive setting forth your desire and intent to leave your assets to intended recipients. In dying without the benefit of a Will, your assets will be directed to recipients as dictated by the State of Connecticut pursuant to the laws of Intestate Succession.
A properly drafted and executed Will allows you to transfer your property to intended recipients upon your death. It can identify the people you wish to raise your minor children. It can further establish a trust to protect an inheritance from creditors, unwise spending habits of a child or beneficiary during their minority, periods of incapacitation or illness. A trust can also set a time period or appropriate age in which to transfer those intended assets to a beneficiary outright. During the life of the trust, a Fiduciary will watch over the assets of the trust and will distribute them to the named recipients for intended purposes, at appropriate times and in appropriate amounts, thereby carrying out the wishes of the deceased party.
In a separate legal document, you are able to convey your wishes to implement or reject the use of life support, artificial means of feeding and hydration or extraordinary measures in the event that you become permanently unconscious, an irreversible semi-conscious state and become terminally ill, without the prospect of medical recovery. In Connecticut, you are able to choose a Health Care Agent to communicate your desires to your physician about maintaining or refusing the use of life support, if you can no longer do so for yourself. This will provide you with peace of mind, allow for greater asset protection, and reduce the physical and emotion hardship to you and your family. You are further able to name a Conservator over yourself and/or your estate during your lifetime in the event of your permanent or temporary incapacity.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney allow you to appoint someone to act on your behalf immediately or upon the happening of a specific future event. This can include real estate and banking transactions, insurance needs, military benefits, transactions involving stocks, bonds or commodities, to list a few. Powers of Attorney can be revoke at any time prior to incapacitation and can provide a useful means of transacting business and accomplishing personal affairs.
Anatomical Gifts/Bodily Remains
These documents allow you to designate a desire to donate your organs to others. They can also place others in charge who will respect and carry out your final wishes pertaining to burial or cremation.
During such a highly emotional time, it is important to have an experienced attorney to act as not only an attorney but also a legal and personal advisor. The probate process requires the filing of the many required documents to ensure that the Decedent’s wishes may be carried through to conclusion. The Court will require the Decedent’s Will be filed with the court within an appropriate time, if one exists, and that a Fiduciary be appointed to marshal the estate assets and complete the probate process. The Fiduciary will also be responsible to research and gather the estate’s assets, determine the valid debts of the estate, protect the assets for the benefit of its creditors and beneficiaries, file an appropriate tax return with the Court, ensure that any valid tax due the State of Connecticut are paid or released and that the intended beneficiaries receive the Testator’s net estate.