Estate Planning FAQ: Can the Probate Process Be Avoided After Death?Submitted by Reby Advisors | Certified Financial Planners | Danbury, CT on March 6th, 2020
By Alyson R. Marcucio, Esq. March 6, 2020
Many times, clients will ask how to avoid Probate because of experiences they have had in the past or stories that they have heard about the process. While it is not possible to entirely avoid the Probate process in the administration of an estate, there may be ways to speed up the process.
Keep in mind, the Probate process is in place to help ensure that assets are properly disposed of at death, in accordance with your wishes.
By Connecticut law, every estate requires the filing of a Connecticut estate tax return (Form CT-706 NT or Form CT-706/709). Regardless of how your assets are owned at your death and whether your estate is taxable or not, this requirement applies across the board. If you have solely owned assets, jointly owned assets, assets held in certain types of trusts, or beneficiary designated assets – such as life insurance or retirement accounts – a Connecticut estate tax return still needs to be filed
If the total date-of-death value of all assets that you have an interest in at your death is less than the Connecticut estate tax exemption of $5,100,000 (for 2020), your executor or the person in control of your assets will need to file Form CT-706 NT – for a non-taxable Connecticut estate. The Form CT-706/709 is filed for an estate with assets in excess of the Connecticut estate tax exemption.
If, at your death, you have more than $40,000 in assets in your sole name, it will be necessary to open a full estate. Due to statutory claims periods, your estate will be open for at least 150 days from the date your executor is appointed.
On the other hand, if you have less than $40,000 in assets in your sole name, the estate administration process can be completed much quicker since there is less that needs to be filed with the Court and you do not have the 150 day statutory claims period. Additionally, if all of your assets are jointly held, designate beneficiaries and/or are held in trust, the Probate process can be very simple with the filing of your Will and the Connecticut estate tax return.
Simply stated, naming beneficiaries, funding revocable living trusts and having joint accounts certainly could help to streamline the probate process; however, with any type of estate planning, it is important to discuss your overall goals with an estate planning attorney so you can be sure that your goals are being met in the most advantageous way.
Alyson R. Marcucio is an attorney at Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC and practices in the firm's estate planning and probate group, with considerable emphasis on elder law.