This is the next post in a series of articles discussing Last Wills and Testaments in Hartford, Connecticut. Our previous article reviewed the legal formalities that must be observed in order to create a valid and enforceable Will in our state. Failure to comply with Connecticut’s requirements can result in a probate court invalidating a Will or lead to challenges from potential heirs. Having an invalid Will is the equivalent of having no Will at all which means that one’s estate will be distributed in accordance with state law rather than consistent with their final wishes. Working with an estate planning attorney can help avoid these problems. In this article, we will discuss common issues that individuals typically address in their Will. If you need assistance, contact our office today to schedule a consultation.
A Last Will and Testament is a formal document setting forth the testator’s wishes for how their estate is managed and distributed following their death. Depending upon an individual’s goals and objectives, assets, and family situation, Wills are personalized to represent each unique situation. When considering what to include in one’s Will, an important initial determination is identifying who will act as the Executor of the estate. This person is responsible for administering the testator’s estate through the probate court in accordance with the instructions in the Will. Choosing an Executor should not be taken lightly. The person should be trustworthy and capable to handle this important function on your estate’s behalf. Another important consideration for parents is the selection of Guardians for their minor children. Connecticut law establishes a fall-back plan should parents not identify Guardians before they pass away, however, this may not reflect what a parent would choose on their own.
A large portion of a Will is dedicated to identifying beneficiaries and explaining how certain assets should be distributed to them. Individuals may wish to memorialize specific bequests, such as leaving an heirloom necklace to a niece or a collection of valuable baseball cards to a brother. It is important to review your personal property, financial assets, and real property assets, with your attorney to ensure that your Will captures your intentions. It is also important to understand that some items are considered non-probate assets and will not be subject to distribution pursuant to your Will. Items such as life insurance proceeds, investment accounts, 401ks, and real property owned jointly with others, will be distributed to designated beneficiaries or the joint owner. Reviewing these designations regularly will help to ensure that beneficiary designations are updated to reflect your current objectives.
There may be additional issues that you have not considered, such as creating a testamentary trust that may benefit your family. To help ensure that you have considered all possible provisions and that your Will is clearly drafted and enforceable, it is essential to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you. Contact our office today to speak with a Hartford lawyer. We also serve the areas of Wethersfield, New Britain, Rocky Hill, East and West Hartford, Bristol, Glastonbury, and Manchester, as well as the Middlesex County cities of Middletown and Cromwell.