If you die leaving behind property in Connecticut, the state's laws determine who inherits your property. While these laws allow you to choose who gets your property in some situations, they also decide for you if you do not take the proper steps beforehand. Understanding Connecticut's inheritance laws and rules often requires the assistance of an experienced attorney, so talk to a lawyer if you need legal advice.
There are two main ways in which property gets passed to inheritors in Connecticut: in accordance with the terms of a validly created last will and testament, or according to the requirements of the state's intestacy statutes. When a person in Connecticut wants to choose who receives her property after death, she can detail her wishes in a last will and testament. To be valid in Connecticut, a will must be made in writing, signed by the testator and signed by two witnesses. Connecticut does not allow for oral or handwritten wills unless executed in another state that recognizes them.
When you don't leave behind a valid will in Connecticut, your property goes to those whom the state's intestacy laws dictate regardless of your wishes. If, for example, you die leaving behind a wife and no children or surviving parents, your entire estate goes to your wife. If you leave behind a wife and a spouse, the wife receives the first $100,000 of the estate plus three-quarters of the rest of the estate, with the remainder passing to the surviving parents, according to Connecticut Code Section 45a-437.
Once you die leaving behind property in Connecticut, you inheritors cannot receive their inheritances until the property passes through the probate process. The Connecticut probate court oversees the distribution of property to inheritors and ensures that all relevant state laws are met. Once a person dies, a representative of the deceased has to open a probate case and get the court's approval to act as executor or administrator. Once the court approves, the executor can then determine the proper way to distribute all inheritances.
Some Connecticut estates have to pay various taxes based on the value of the estate. The Connecticut Judicial Branch reports that for anyone dying after January 1, 2010, the state's Estate and Gift Tax applies only to those estates with a taxable estate valued at $3.5 million or more. If this is the case, the estate administrator must file the appropriate estate tax forms with the state Department of Revenue Services and pay the taxes before distributing property to the heirs.