We all work hard throughout our lives with the expectation we will be able to leave an estate to our children and heirs. Too often however, we fail to take the necessary steps to preserve our wealth. While the Connecticut law regarding Probate has been simplified over the last few years, there are still some steps you can take to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Your retirement accounts
Fortunately, most financial institutions require retirement account owners to specify a beneficiary when they open their accounts. These accounts will pass to your heirs without being administered by the Probate Court. However, it is important to verify the beneficiary and to update the beneficiary after a divorce, death of a spouse or other life changes.
These assets can be jointly registered as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. In that case, the ownership automatically transfers to the joint owner upon your death. In the alternative, a “transfer on death” designation can be made. This option requires the designee to provide a copy of a death certificate and a letter of instruction for the new registration.
Real Estate can be jointly owned with the right of survivorship. This commonly used tool ensures that the co-owner automatically gets ownership of the property in the event of your death. There are many options in titling real estate, such as a life use in the property or a Living Trust, which will ensure your wishes are respected.
Personal Belongings – items such as jewelry, art and other personal belongings can be bequeathed through a will to the respective parties. This can prevent squabbling between family members and other loved ones.
Most of us have very specific ideas about how we would like to see our assets and possessions dealt with when we pass away. It is imperative to speak with an attorney who understands Connecticut probate law to help you with your estate planning. This will allow you to have the final say as to the disposition of your assets.