General DefinitionA decedent's intestate estate is defined as any part of the estate not effectively disposed of by a valid will.
Order of DistributionIf a decedent dies without a will or if any part of the estate is not effectively disposed of by the will of the decedent, the portion of the intestate estate of the decedent which the surviving spouse takes is:
- 100% if there is no surviving issue or parent of the decedent;
- The first $100,000 plus 3/4 of the excess if there is no surviving issue of the decedent but the decedent is survived by a parent or parents;
- The first $100,000 plus 1/2 of the excess if there are surviving issue of the decedent all of whom are also issue of the surviving spouse;
- 1/2 of the intestate estate if there is surviving issue of the decedent one or more of which is are not issue of the surviving spouse. Sec. 45a-437.
After the surviving spouse receives his/her interest from the estate, or if there is no surviving spouse at the decedent's death, then 100% of the estate is distributed in the following order:
- the decedent's descendants;
- the parents of the decedents, if there are no descendants;
- the decedent's siblings if there are no descendants' or surviving parents;
- the next of kin if there are no descendants', surviving parents or siblings;
- the step-children, if any, of the decedent. Sec. 45a-439(a)(1) through (4).
When the court cannot identify or locate the person entitled to a distribution from an estate or when the court determines that no person is entitled to a distribution, the property escheats to the state. Sec. 45a-452.
Common Law or Community PropertyConnecticut is a common law property state. Sec. 45a-436(a).
CapacityThe testator of a valid will must be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind at the time of the drafting. Sec. 45a-250.
DraftingEvery will must be made in writing signed by the testator or his or her name. In addition, the will must be signed by at least two persons each of whom signed the will in the testator's presence. Sec. 45a-251.
BeneficiariesA beneficiary is any person entitled to legal title to assets by law under the provisions of a will or codicil, by a right of election, in settlement of a will contest or by mutual distribution. A term "beneficiary" does not include the recipient of a widow's allowance or family allowance paid by order of the Court of Probate. Sec. 45a-353(c).
ModificationsA will or codicil cannot be revoked in any other manner except by burning, canceling, tearing or obliterating it by the testator or by some person in the testator's presence and by his or her testator's direction, or by a later will or codicil. Sec. 45a-257.
A dissolution, divorce or annulment occurring after the establishment of a will revokes any disposition of property made by the will to the former spouse. The divorce or annulment also revokes any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse and any nomination of the former spouse as fiduciary, trustee, conservator, guardian or other fiduciary, unless the will expressly provides otherwise. Property and powers not passing to a former spouse due to divorce or annulment passes as if the former spouse failed to survive the testator. A decree of separation which does not terminate the status of husband and wife is not a dissolution or divorce for the purposes of this section. Sec. 45a-257(c).
Naming of FiduciaryNormally, a decedent will name a fiduciary in his or her will. However, if no fiduciary is named or in the case of an intestate estate, the probate court will appoint one by the issuance of letters of administration. To be named as the fiduciary, a person or persons must apply for letters of administration with the probate court. Sec. 45a-303(b).
After the hearing, the probate judge will issue letters to a fiduciary. The letters allow the fiduciary to administer the decedent's estate. The court will appoint a fiduciary from the following persons in order:
- The surviving spouse,
- Any child of the decedent or any guardian of such child as the court shall determine, any grandchild of the decedent or any guardian of such grandchild,
- The decedent's parents,
- Any brother or sister of the decedent,
- The next of kin entitled to share in the estate.
Should all parties fail to post the appropriate bond or otherwise refuse to serve as an fiduciary, then the court will select any other person whom the court deems proper. Sec. 45a-303(c).
Submission of WillIn Connecticut, any person that has possession of a decedent's will must, upon receiving knowledge of the testator's death, deliver the will either to the person named by the will as the fiduciary or to the judge. Sec. 45a-282(a). Failure to turn over the will within thirty days of obtaining knowledge of the testator's death may result in a fine up to $1,000 or imprisonment for up to a year or both. Sec. 45a-282(b).
NotificationsUpon application, the court will, before granting the letters of administration, hold a hearing. Notice of the hearing must be given to all persons interested in the estate, unless all of the interested persons sign and file a written waiver of notice, or unless the court, for cause shown, dispenses with such notice. Sec. 45a-286.
InventoryAn inventory of all of the property of the decedent, except real property situated outside the state, must be made and signed by a fiduciary of the estate. Sec. 45a-341(a)(1). The inventory must be completed within two months of the qualification of the fiduciary unless extended by the probate court. Sec. 45a-341(b)(1) and (2).
If the court appoints a fiduciary of an estate that is someone other than a relative included in the decedent's will, then the fiduciary is required to send a copy of the inventory to each person interested in the estate and notify each person by regular mail, that a sale of certain items in the inventory is contemplated. The notice must inform the recipient that he or she may object to the sale by filing a notice of objection in writing with the court within five days after receiving the notice of sale. Sec. 45a-341(c).
Homestead, Statutory Share and the Family AllowanceThe family of the decedent is allowed to remain in the house occupied at the time of the decedent's death until it is sold, distributed or otherwise disposed of according to law. Sec. 45a-321(b).
When a married person dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to a statutory share of the estate. The "statutory share" is a life estate of one-third in value of all property passing under the will, real and personal owned by the deceased spouse at the time of his or her death, after the payment of all debts and charges against the estate. This right shall not be defeated by any disposition of the property by will to other parties. Sec. 45a-436(a). However, if the decedent's will provides for the surviving spouse, he or she may take either the statutory share or by the provisions of the will but not both. Sec. 45a-436(b).
The Court of Probate may allow an amount for the support of the surviving spouse and/or dependent family of the deceased during the settlement of the estate. Sec. 45a-320.
Debts and DistributionsAs part of the probate process, the presiding judge will require that notice of the decedent's death to be published in a newspaper notice within fourteen days after the appointment of the fiduciary. The publication is intended to provide notice to creditors whom may have a claim against the estate. The notice is required to state: (1) The name of the fiduciary and the address at which claims should be presented; (2) that persons with claims should promptly present those claims to the fiduciary; and (3) that failure to promptly present a claim may result in the loss of rights to recover on the claim. Sec. 45a-354(a).
Every claim must be presented to the fiduciary in writing. In addition, the fiduciary may require proof by affidavit that the claim is due, that all payments, if any, have been credited. Sec. 45a-358(a).
Claims, expenses and taxes in the settlement of a decedent's estate are paid in the following order
- Funeral expenses;
- Expenses of settling the estate;
- Claims due for the last sickness of the decedent;
- All taxes and all claims due;
- All claims for any laborer or mechanic for personal wages incurred within three months immediately before the death of the decedent;
- Other preferred claims; and
- All other claims allowed in proportion to their respective amounts. Sec. 45a-365.
With regards to a testate estate, after payment of debts, the probate court will make a final determination of the heirs and distributees of the estate as provided by the will of the decedent. Sec. 45a-431(a). After the final determination is complete, the probate court will order the fiduciary to distribute the assets of the estate taking care to make receipts and records of each distribution. Sec. 45a-431(b).
If the decedent dies intestate, after payment of expenses, debts and charges, the estate will be distributed by the fiduciary. However, the court may, in its discretion, on its own motion or upon application by any interested person, appoint three disinterested persons to make the distribution. Sec. 45a-433(a). However, if all interested parties in the estate and all fiduciaries for any persons interested in the estate make and file in the court a division of the estate, such division will represent a valid distribution of the estate. Sec. 45a-433(b).
Tax RateConnecticut has a graduated estate tax with rates beginning at 10% for estates of $5,100,000 and below ending with a top tax of $540,000 on estates valued at $10.1 million plus 12% of the excess over $10.1 million. Sec. 12-391(g). Beginning in 2023, Connecticut will have a flat rate of 12% of the taxable estate or gift over the federal threshold. Sec. 12-391(g).
Property InclusionThe estate tax is imposed on all real and tangible personal property located in the State of Connecticut. Resident estates of Connecticut must also include all intangible personal property no matter where it is located. Sec. 12-391(d)(3).
Filing and PaymentEstate tax is due upon the death of the decedent and is delinquent if not paid within six months. Sec. 12-392(a)(1).
Income Tax Charitable Deductions and/or Credits
Connecticut does not provide a deduction for charitable gifts. Effective January 1, 2018, donations to designated community supporting organizations may qualify for a municipality-approved tax credit, which cannot exceed the amount of property tax owed or 85% of the donations to the designated community supporting organization. 2018 Conn. Pub. Act No. 18-49.
Gift Annuity Requirements
Connecticut, a "notification" state, regulates the issuance of charitable gift annuities under Connecticut General Statutes Secs. 38a-1030 through 38a-1034 and permits the imposition of fines up to $1,000 per gift agreement for noncompliance.
To qualify, charities must have been in continuous operation for at least three years and have a minimum of $300,000 in unrestricted assets (cash, cash equivalents or publicly traded securities exclusive of the assets funding the gift annuity agreement).
Notification ProcessCharities must notify the Connecticut Insurance Department of the date on which it enters into its first qualified charitable gift annuity agreement in order to comply with state law. The notice must contain the signature of an officer or director of the charity, identify the organization and certify that the charity is a qualifying organization and the annuities issued are qualified charitable gift annuities. Recently, the Connecticut Insurance Department has also requested a statement certifying that the provision with the required disclosure language listed below is included in all gift annuities issued.
Disclosure LanguageThe following state-required disclosure language is required on gift annuity agreements (in a separate paragraph, print size no smaller than that employed in the annuity agreement generally):
"A qualified charitable gift annuity is not insurance under the laws of this state and is not subject to regulation by the Insurance Commissioner or protected by an insurance guaranty association."
Reserve RequirementsConnecticut does not require an issuing charity to hold any amount in reserve.
Annual Filing RequirementsOnce notification is given to the state, no further reporting is required.
State Contact InformationVanessa Medina
Connecticut Insurance Department
PO Box 816
Hartford, CT 06142-0816
Phone: (860) 297-3804
Email: [email protected]