Wills are made to ensure that the property and money you’ve accumulated over the years goes to the people you want to receive it and not to anyone you don’t want to receive it. But if your will is not valid when it is entered into probate, there’s no guarantee that your estate will pass to your chosen recipients or that it will be divided according to your desires. This is especially true if you want to leave money or property to someone who is not your spouse, child or grandchild, such as a close friend, an unmarried partner, or an organization. If your will is not proven as valid, probate court will distribute your estate according to the provision of law.
To make sure your will is valid in Connecticut, if it is made in Connecticut, it must meet the following requirements:
- You, the testator making the will, must be at least 18 years old
- You must be of sound mind and capable of reasoning and decision making
- You must sign your will in front of two witnesses (Note that your witnesses should not be anyone who will receive a portion of your estate unless they are also an heir as described below)
- Two witnesses, who saw you sign the will, must also sign your will and be in your presence as they do so
- The will must name at least one beneficiary to receive your estate.
If your will was made in another state, Connecticut law will permit it to be valid as long as it conforms to the laws of the state in which it was made. This applies even if it does not adhere to all the requirements listed above. For example, Connecticut does not permit a “holographic” will, which is one not signed by witnesses, if it was made in Connecticut. But a holographic will made in a state that allows them, will be valid in Connecticut if it is probated here.
Common Questions About Wills in Connecticut
What happens if I die in Connecticut without a valid will?
If no valid will can be proved in probate court, then the deceased’s estate is determined to be intestate and property and money of the estate is distributed according to state law. State law will distribute your estate differently depending on your marital status and whether or not you had or did not have children. The spouse may only get one-half (1/2) of the estate in some cases. Only where there are no children or survining parents of the deased will the spouse inherit the entire estate. Children of the deceased may share equally up to one-half (1/2) of the estate. If their is no surving spouse, children of the decedent, surviving parents or siblings of the decedent; then the estate will be divided amongst "next of kin".
I need a lawyer to make a will in Connecticut?
While state law doesn’t require that you have a lawyer help you with a will, it is highly advisable, especially for individuals with complex estates or complex distribution desires. Poor wording, errors or unclear meaning can result in voiding all or part of a will. An experienced Connecticut probate lawyer can also advise you on strategies for achieving the results you want with your will.
Can an heir or beneficiary witness my will?
An heir at law can witness (sign) your will, but it is bad practice for them to do so. In Connecticut, if your will is witnessed by a beneficiary who is not also an heir at law, distributions to that beneficiary could be voi. If the will can be proved without the signature of that witness, then gifts to that witness won’t be affected. For example, if two other qualifying witnesses also sign the will, then the non-heir beneficiary/witness’s distribution will not be affected. Also, gifts to an organization where a witness is a member of the organization are not affected. So, in Connecticut, a representative of a non-profit organization receiving part of your estate could witness your will without affecting the gift to the organization.
Can I write my will by hand?
A handwritten will that is signed in Connecticut is not valid. In the case of a will made in another state, the will must be valid under the laws of that state where it was signed in order for the will to be valid in Connecticut.
Can I give my will orally?
Oral wills, also known as nuncupative wills, are not valid in Connecticut if they are executed (made) in Connecticut. A nuncupative will made in another state is valid if it is valid under the laws of that state. Also, a Connecticut will can be dictated to another person if you are physically unable to write it yourself, but that person must write down your will and you, along with two witnesses, must sign it in order for it to be valid in Connecticut.
Can I change or revoke my will?
Yes. A will can be changed in one of two ways. 1) Changes can be stated in a separate document, known as a codicil, that is then attached to the will. The codicil must follow the strict requirements of Connecticut laws and should be executed with the help of an attorney. 2) A new will can be written to include the desired changes and revoking the old will. A will can be revoked at any time in one of three ways:
- The testator destroys or cancels it
- Someone else destroys the will in the testator’s presence or at the testator’s direction
- The testator makes a new will, thereby automatically revoking all previous wills
Does my will need to be notarized?
No. Connecticut does not require a will to be notarized to be valid. However, if the testator and witnesses sign the will in the presence of a notary who then notarizes the will, it is considered a self-proved will and there is no need to prove the will during probate, thereby speeding up the probate process.
Make Sure Your Will is Valid, Current and Does What You Want it to Do with the Help of an Experienced Connecticut Probate Attorney
If you want to ensure your hard-earned property and money benefit the people you intend them to benefit, your will must be valid and clearly understandable. The probate and estate planning attorneys at Weatherby & Associates, PC can help you ensure your will is valid and that your estate will be distributed as you desire.
Call our probate and estate planning attorneys toll free today: 888-822-8778.