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Danbury Probate and Estate Administration Law Blog

Should a parent appoint a guardian for a child in an estate plan?

There is nothing more important for many Connecticut residents than their children. Many Connecticut parents would do virtually anything for their children. Yet, many individuals may have failed to take the very basic precaution of appointing a guardian for their child in the event of the parents' death.

When the parents have not selected a guardian, the probate court handles the appointment of a guardian of a minor child. This court will consider a number of factors in determining whom to appoint as a guardian for a child.

These factors are geared toward appointing a person who can care for the child appropriately, including providing the necessary emotional, physical and educational care needed to raise the child. Typically, if a minor child is over 12 years of age, the court also will take into consideration the child's wishes.

What does a surviving spouse receive when a husband or wife dies?

Most Connecticut residents enjoy making their own decisions, particularly when it comes to important financial and personal matters. For this reason, individuals are urged to establish wills or trusts that set forth a distribution of assets according to their wishes.

When individuals die without a will or other estate planning mechanism in place to transfer assets, the state must decide how to distribute the person's assets instead. In order to accomplish this task, Connecticut has enacted certain statutory provisions setting out the distribution of assets for those individuals who die without a will.

Anticipating problems before they arise in estate planning

When Connecticut residents make important decisions in their lives, there are often multiple factors that must be considered. Making the right decision requires a careful analysis of all of these factors, including a balancing test that considers which factors are more important than others.

In the world of estate planning, this balancing act is performed frequently. Individuals often must juggle competing demands and probabilities, as well as dealing with unknown issues that could arise during the estate administration after their death.

Using different estate planning strategies for women and men

As discussed previously in this blog, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for different individuals in drafting estate planning documents. A person's individual circumstances must be considered, including their age, health, assets and other considerations.

One of these circumstances is a person's gender, as estate planning strategies often differ between men and women. For instance, women generally have longer life spans than men, which means many women will not only be widowed, but will need to plan for a longer retirement. As a result, women should ensure they plan well to understand where their income will come from and what benefits they might be entitled to if their spouse dies.

Estate planning critical for Connecticut residents

There have been a lot of changes in the federal estate tax system over the past few years, as discussed previously in this blog. In 2012, Congress passed permanent tax reform, taking away much of the uncertainty in the federal estate tax exemption that existed prior to that time.

The federal laws raised the estate and gift tax exemption to $5 million, with married Connecticut couples being able to avoid tax on a $10 million estate. Congress also made portability of the exemption between spouses permanent.

Community college receives $10 million donation from WWII vet

When Connecticut residents think about leaving this world, many may consider what kind of legacy they want to leave behind. A person's legacy not only includes what individuals will remember about them after they are gone, but what they leave behind and how they choose to distribute their assets at death.

When it comes to a person's distribution of assets, individuals must choose, as an initial matter, who will inherit their assets. This can include providing for family members and friends, or leaving gifts to charities, educational institutions or other organizations.

Connecticut residents: who do you trust to handle your finances?

There are often few people Connecticut residents trust to handle their money and affairs. It takes a great deal of trust and familiarity, after all, to entrust another person to handle sensitive matters.

It comes as no surprise then that choosing an executor to handle a person's estate is a very important part of estate planning. Indeed, when a person is drafting estate planning documents, the choice of an executor can be just as important as decisions regarding a person's asset distribution.

Estate planning is not only for later in life

Estate planning is for the young and older alike. People, including those in Connecticut, may sometimes associate estate planning with older people and as something to address later in life. In reality, it may never be too soon to begin planning and being prepared for unexpected life events. Regardless of the nature of a party's assets or debts, estate planning is important to allow loved ones to properly handle the unique nature of each estate. Unfortunately, death is an uncertain reality of life and the better prepared a person is, the simpler the process will be for loved ones.

Estate planning strategies can depend on the nature of the party's family circumstances, financial situation and unique desires. Effective estate planning can help minimize family disputes while a family is coping with the loss of a loved one. When drafting estate planning documents, it is important to have various documents that have been carefully considered, including a will, advance directive, health proxy, power of attorney, and other types of documents.

Could will have prevented parents from fighting over son's ashes?

The death of a loved one can be traumatic for any family. While the loss of someone of any age can cause relations to suffer, the passing of children and young adults are particularly hard on Connecticut families. Often young people leave few assets to their heirs and many do not have wills that outline their testamentary wishes.

A young many living out of state died in a car accident. He was unmarried and had no offspring so his divorced parents became his only beneficiaries. Though it does not appear they fought over any of his assets they did encounter disagreement regarding how to manage the disposition of his remains.

What happens to your child's inheritance in divorce?

As Connecticut parents watch their children grow older, one of the most memorable moments comes when a child is married to another individual. While many marriages can provide happiness for the child, this is unfortunately not always the case.

Beyond the impact a potential divorce has on the child, the parent may also feel the impact in more ways than one. For instance, the potential divorce can cause confusion and stress when it comes to the parent's estate plan. After all, if there is a likelihood the child may be divorced, the parent often does not want the child's inheritance to be given to the child's soon-to-be ex-spouse.

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