Multigeneration familyThis is the next post in our series on the handling of Hartford, Connecticut probate cases in which the deceased died without a valid last will and testament. Our last article discussed the process of handling an estate for which there is no will. It is important to understand that this process must be followed or else the case will likely face several delays. Retaining an experienced attorney can assist you in making sure that the matter is handled appropriately from beginning to end. In this article we will discuss who may or may not be considered an heir in such matters. If you require assistance then contact our office today to speak with a probate lawyer.

In Connecticut, intestate cases can lead to confusion over whether children, or others, are an “heir”

It is unfortunate that many people die without having prepared a final will. Many people are under the mistaken belief that their spouse or their children will “get everything.” This is not always the case. Also, it is important to understand that the law may not consider someone the “child” of the deceased, even if the deceased in fact considered them to be so. The determination of heirs can lead to a great amount of heartache in such cases.

First, Connecticut will only consider someone to be a spouse of the decedent if the parties were legally married at the time of death. If one was legally married at the time of death then their spouse will be entitled to a “spouse’s share” of the estate, regardless of the length of the marriage. This means that the spouse will inherit the first $100,000 of the estate and the division of any remaining assets will depend on what other heirs the deceased left behind.

Second, whether one is considered a child of the deceased can lead to a great deal of confusion. If the deceased had children, and paternity was not in dispute, then such children will be entitled to an inheritance. This is true whether the children were the deceased’s biological offspring or if they were adopted. Also, children will receive a full share of the estate regardless of whether they are only the half-siblings of the deceased’s other kids. If a child has passed away before the deceased, and that child had children of his or her own, then those grandchildren of the deceased will inherit their parent’s share. It is important to understand that the law does not recognize inheritance rights for:

  • Biological children of the deceased who were placed for adoption and formally adopted
  • Foster children who were not formally adopted by the deceased
  • Step children who were not formally adopted by the deceased
  • Children who lived with, or were raised by, the deceased but were in no way related.

It is not uncommon for individual to feel that such persons are “their children” and that these “kids” will receive a share of an estate. This is not the case. By having a last will and testament, one can ensure that their assets are distributed in a way that is consistent with their wishes and not through the “intestate” process.

A Hartford estate planning attorney can assist with drafting a last will and testament

The foregoing discussion demonstrates that a person’s assets may be distributed in an undesirable way if they die without a final will. A child with whom the deceased was not on speaking terms may still be entitled to a share of the estate while an unrelated child, whom the deceased cared for, may receive nothing. By drafting a last will and testament, a person can make sure that their estate will be divided in a way that is consistent with their final wishes.

Our Hartford estate planning attorneys can assist you with making sure that your affairs are in order. We pride ourselves on providing the highest level of service and we are honored to serve our local community. Contact us today to speak with a lawyer. We also service the Connecticut areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Bristol, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, East Hartford, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.