Settling an estate in Connecticut can be a challenging process. Large estates are notoriously complicated to settle, and very require the services of a probate attorney, but even smaller estates can be deceptively complicated.
Why legal aid can be helpful
No Connecticut laws require hiring a lawyer when you go through probate. Many people accomplish this task on their own, especially if they have sufficient legal and financial knowledge of the steps, assets and family dynamics involved. However, many people find their skills lacking in one or both areas, leaving them to wonder if they are correctly performing their role as an executor. An executor may choose to enlist the assistance of a legal professional if the settling the estate involves any of the following:
- Beneficiaries or family members who may dispute the will
- Debts that may not be covered by the estate’s assets
- Large and varied assets
- Complex asset distribution
- Real property, such as a home, rental property or vacation home
- Complicated tax issues
The amount of legal aid needed can vary depending on the situation. Some people only need a one-time consultation while others need representation throughout the process. The average time to complete probate is about one year although if someone dies without a will, also known as intestate, the process may take longer.
Can you avoid probate?
Comprehensive estate planning strategies may help an executor avoid going through probate during the estate administration process. Placing assets in various trusts and designating beneficiaries for transfer-on-death (TOD) will allow assets to go directly to those heirs, bypassing probate. Making an estate plan involves more than creating a will because a will must still go through probate.
Younger people often don’t think about estate planning because they are still acquiring assets, growing their family and getting established in their careers. The good news is you can change most of your estate documents as many times as you want, so your estate planning documents can change and grow with you and your family. Periodically reviewing your plan will ensure it meets your current wishes.