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Danbury Probate and Estate Administration Law Blog

Understanding when a will can be challenged in court

When it comes to distributing the assets of a loved one's estate, many Danbury residents have a sense of fairness about how that distribution should be directed. When the deceased person's will does not match this sense of fairness, it can cause turmoil in the family that leads to a court battle over the will.

Yet, no matter how unfair a will seems, the unfairness alone is not generally a valid reason for a will contest. It can lead to questions of whether other valid grounds exist to challenge the will, however.

Connecticut residents: is a living trust best for you?

When Connecticut residents set a goal, they often realize that there may be multiple ways to accomplish that goal. Some methods of achieving the objective may work better for certain individuals over others, depending on their personal circumstances.

The same is true when it comes to estate planning. The individual may set certain goals, such as distributing his or her assets to loved ones and reducing the potential tax liability on the transfer of assets, but there may be multiple ways to reach these desired outcomes. Yet, for some people, certain strategies may work better than others.

Make time for estate planning before it is too late

Tragedy can strike Danbury residents at any time, sometimes when he or she is least prepared. From medical incidents to car accidents and other sudden events, a person's life can change dramatically in one brief moment. For this reason, it is highly recommended that individuals take part in proper estate planning before it is too late.

For instance, one woman recently told her personal story about when her mother was involved in a house fire. The woman's mother was left in critical condition after the incident, and it was unclear whether she would be able to survive the injury.

Estate planning for blended families

There are countless Danbury residents who are proud to be part of a blended family. While blended families are similar to other families, there are some distinctions that may come into play when it comes to a probate administration.

As discussed previously in this blog, when a person dies without a will in place, it is known as dying intestate. In these situations, the law of the state provides for the distribution of assets to a person's heirs, and those heirs are defined according to the state law. Typically, this includes distributing property to individuals such as a surviving spouse and children, although it may be necessary to locate other heirs.

Take control of your finances with a power of attorney

Danbury residents value their independence and ability to control their personal lives. Yet, many individuals are not protecting themselves in the event of mental incapacity that may come from aging or declining health.

To begin, a recent study found that only 35 to 45 percent of Americans have wills. This means that, in the event the person dies before completing a will, the State will decide how to distribute the person's property, rather than the person himself or herself through a will that expresses the person's wishes.

Danbury residents: what are your goals in estate planning?

Any time a Danbury resident has an important goal to accomplish, it helps to put in place a strategy to achieve that goal. Yet, not every person should use the same strategy, as different individuals have different circumstances that may make one strategy better than another. A good example of this is with estate planning, where different strategies may work for different persons.

For instance, one goal many individuals have is to avoid probate, and there may be many different ways of accomplishing that goal. Some may choose to use trusts or other non-probate transfers, while others may decide to use joint accounts. Even within these options, however, there can be significant differences.

Dealing with a Danbury resident's home and assets after death

When a loved one dies, there can be a flood of emotions facing surviving family members and friends. Making matters more difficult, the progress of handling the deceased individual's estate begins during this time as well, including organizing the funeral and performing the distribution of assets that belonged to the deceased person.

Fortunately, the second of these tasks can be handled in large part by an executor chosen directly by the deceased individual in his or her estate planning documents. The executor will be responsible for collecting the assets of the estate and paying off creditors before distributing the remainder of the assets to the deceased person's heirs.

Actor Walker's $25 million estate to be distributed to daughter

Nobody can predict when or how they will die, nor would many want to know this information even if they could. Because death can often be unexpected, it is essential that Connecticut residents are prepared for the event, even if it may not be the most pleasant thought to think of what will happen when they die.Younger individuals in particular may feel they do not need to worry about issues surrounding death for many years to come. But even these individuals should be prepared for the unexpected, as illustrated by the recent death of 40-year-old actor Paul Walker.

Walker died in a car crash last year, and details surrounding his estate plan are now emerging. Walker's assets will be given to his minor daughter. While Walker had a will, it was what is known as a "pour-over" will, which placed his $25 million in assets into a trust he created.

Children of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in legal dispute

When rifts develop between Connecticut families, the aftereffects can last for years. In some instances, a parent or sibling might act as the glue holding other family members together, but when that parent or sibling passes away, these disputes surface between the other family members.

This appears to be the case with the heirs of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King's children have had disputes over the years, but it was not until their mother and oldest sister died that those disputes came to the forefront through a series of legal actions. Recently, legal issues arose between the children over some invaluable possessions formerly belonging to King, including his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize and his Bible.

Finding an estate plan that meets a person's individual situation

One size may sometimes fit all when it comes to certain items of clothing. The same is not true for estate planning, however, as different families have different circumstances that require a tailored estate plan to meet those circumstances.

As an initial matter, not all families are the same. For instance, after a divorce, circumstances change drastically for the couple, making it essential that the spouses change their beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and the like. If a spouse remarries, their beneficiaries may change once more, and there can be unique needs when blended families bring together children from different marriages.

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