Wills and Estates – Small Estates – Connecticut
Small Estates General Summary: Small Estate laws were enacted in order to enable heirs to obtain property of the deceased without probate, or with shortened probate proceedings, provided certain conditions are met. Small estates can be administered with less time and cost.; If the deceased had conveyed most property to a trust but there remains some property, small estate laws may also be available.; Small Estate procedures may generally be used regardless of whether there was a Will.; In general, the two forms of small estate procedures are recognized:
1.Small Estate Affidavit -Some States allow an affidavit to be executed by the spouse and/or heirs of the deceased and present the affidavit to the holder of property such as a bank to obtain property of the deceased. Other states require that the affidavit be filed with the Court.; The main requirement before you may use an affidavit is that the value of the personal and/or real property of the estate not exceed a certain value.
2. Summary Administration -Some states allow a Summary administration. Some States recognize both the Small Estate affidavit and Summary Administration, basing the requirement of which one to use on the value of the estate. Example: If the estate value is 10,000 or less an affidavit is allowed but if the value is between 10,000 to 20,000 a summary administration is allowed.
Under Connecticut statute, where as estate is valued at no more than $40,000, an interested party may forgo the opening of a regular estate and instead file an affidavit of small estate with the court of probate. Please see statutes below for details.
Connecticut requirements are set forth in the statutes below.
Settlement of small estates without probate of will or letters of administration.
(a) If the aggregate value of a decedent’s solely owned tangible and intangible personal property, excluding property that passes outside of probate by operation of law, does not exceed forty thousand dollars and the decedent had no solely owned real property in this state at the time of his or her death: (1) The decedent’s surviving spouse; or (2) if there is no surviving spouse, any of the decedent’s next of kin; or (3) if there is no next of kin or if the surviving spouse and next of kin refuse, any person whom the court deems to have a sufficient interest in the decedent’s estate, including any person or entity to whom a claim, expense or tax is due, may, in lieu of filing a petition for admission of a will to probate or letters of administration, file an affidavit signed under penalty of false statement in the Probate Court in the district in which the decedent resided.
(b) An affidavit shall contain: (1) A statement whether the decedent received aid or care from the state; (2) a list of the decedent’s solely owned assets, excluding assets that pass outside of probate by operation of law; and (3) a list of all claims, expenses and taxes due from the decedent’s estate in the categories set forth in subdivisions (1) to (7), inclusive, of section 45a-365, which list shall indicate if any of the claims, expenses and taxes have been paid and, if so, by whom.
(c) On receipt of an affidavit, the court shall send a copy of the affidavit to the Department of Administrative Services. The court shall not issue a decree until thirty days after the date on which a copy of the affidavit was sent to the department. Except as provided in this subsection, the court may act on the affidavit without notice and hearing.
(d) Except as provided in subdivision (5) of subsection (f) of this section, if the court finds that no probate proceedings have been instituted in connection with the estate of the decedent, the court shall determine the persons and entities entitled to payment for claims, expenses and taxes in accordance with subsection (e) of this section and the persons entitled to distributions from the decedent’s estate in accordance with subsection (f) of this section. The court shall issue a decree authorizing each holder or registrant of an asset of the decedent to: (1) Transfer the asset directly to specified persons or entities; (2) pay amounts from the asset to specified persons or entities; or (3) transfer the asset to the person filing the affidavit, to be sold and the proceeds paid to specified persons or entities. The court may issue certificates or other documents to carry out the decree. In addition, the court may authorize the person filing the affidavit to release an interest in a mortgage reported on the affidavit.
(e) The court shall determine the persons and entities entitled to payment for the claims, expenses and taxes due from the estate, or reimbursement for such amounts paid on behalf of the estate, in accordance with section 45a-365 except, (1) if a decedent received aid or care from the state or received care in a state humane institution, such reimbursement shall be in accordance with section 17b-95; and (2) if a decedent is obligated to pay the decedent’s cost of incarceration, such reimbursement shall be in accordance with section 18-85c. If the claims, taxes and expenses exceed the fair value of the decedent’s assets, the court shall order payment in accordance with this subsection, provided the procedures for insolvent estates under sections 45a-376 to 45a-383, inclusive, shall not be required.
(f) If the fair value of the decedent’s assets exceeds the total amount of claims, expenses, taxes and any amounts allowed to the family for support under section 45a-320, the court shall proceed as follows: (1) If no purported last will and testament is found, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; (2) if the decedent left a duly executed last will and testament and the will provides for a distribution which is the same as that under the laws of intestate succession, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; (3) if the decedent left a duly executed last will and testament and the will provides for a distribution different from that under the laws of intestate succession, and the heirs at law of such decedent sign a written waiver of their right to contest the will, the court shall order the excess to be paid in accordance with the terms of the will; (4) if the will directs a distribution different from the laws of intestate succession, and the persons entitled to bequests under the will consent, in writing, to the distribution of the estate in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; and (5) if the will directs a distribution different from the laws of intestate succession, the heirs at law do not waive their right to contest the admission of such will, and the persons entitled to bequests under the will do not consent to the distribution of the estate in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, the court shall dismiss the affidavit and permit any party to petition for admission of the will to probate in accordance with section 45a-286. As used in this subsection, the term “will” includes any duly executed codicil thereto.
(g) Any such transfer or payment made pursuant to a decree issued under this section shall, to the extent of the amount so transferred or paid, discharge the registrant or holder of such property from liability to any person on account thereof.
(h) As a condition of such transfer or payment, the registrant or holder may require the filing of appropriate waivers, the execution of a bond of indemnity and a receipt for such transfer or payment.
(i) Any transfer or payment under the provisions of this section shall be exempt from taxation under the provisions of chapter 219.
(j) Any person to whom such transfer or payment has been made shall be liable for the value thereof to the Commissioner of Revenue Services for any estate, succession or transfer tax on the property transferred or payment made and to the executor or administrator of the estate of the decedent thereafter appointed.
Sec. 45a-274. Payment of medical or health benefits.
When any decedent is entitled to payment of medical benefits, federal or state, or insurance or health benefits or proceeds, or other intangible personal property owned by or payable to the decedent or to the decedent’s estate in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars, the judge of probate for the district within which such decedent resided may name an administrator, ex parte, for the purpose of enabling distribution to the surviving spouse or, if there is no surviving spouse, to the next of kin of such decedent or to the funeral director or physician, as the case may be, upon evidence satisfactory to him that all debts have been paid or provided for as prescribed by section 45a-365.
Sec. 45a-275. Applicability of statutes.
Sections 45a-273 and 45a-274 shall apply only to estates of decedents for whom no will is presented for probate or no application for administration is filed within thirty days after death.
Sec. 45a-276. Comity recognition of foreign decrees.
(a) The holder or registrant of any property, listed in section 45a-273, in this state of a nondomiciliary decedent, as a matter of comity, may recognize a like decree or other form of certification of a judge or clerk of a probate court made under a statute of another state, providing for the settlement of small estates without administration, for the purpose of payment or transfer of any such property of such decedent in this state, provided a holder or registrant of such property in such other state shall, whether pursuant to statute or otherwise, recognize and pay or transfer such property pursuant to a decree entered under this section.
(b) Any such transfer or payment shall, to the extent of the amount so transferred or paid, discharge the registrant or holder of such property from liability to any person on account thereof.
(c) As used in this section, the word “state” means any state of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories and possessions of the United States.