What a Good Connecticut Estate Planning Attorney Should Do for You

Your estate planning attorney is tasked with legally ensuring that your wishes of what to do with your wealth after you pass are carried out, which is a highly personal task as well as a highly legal one. While much of estate planning can now be done electronically, it will always have a hands-on and local aspect to it.

To do estate planning well, it is important to have a confidential relationship with your attorney so you can share confidential goals and objectives about your finances and family information. That is why it is important for Connecticut residents to have a great local estate planning attorney in CT.

The end goal of estate planning is to get two to three witnesses around a table to ensure that your will is duly executed so that it may be carried out at the time of your passing. A local estate planning attorney will be available for a house call or have office space nearby for the official signing of your will as well as interviews and meetings along with the way, all of which needs to take place in person. This is something is Bischof and Bischof LLP is proud to offer across the CT region.

Understanding the broader region is important for Connecticut

However, many CT families have a strong connection to the broader region, in particular New York. Many work in New York or have other connections to New York such as advisors and business connections; many own property in New York. Ultimately, for residents looking for an estate planning attorney in Connecticut, they will want to hire someone who understands how CT state law affects residents and their connections to other states.

An important aspect of an estate planner’s job is to make sure that all of the proper documents are in place. While Connecticut residents will certainly want to have a will and trust governed by Connecticut law, that doesn’t mean all of their other documents and connections have to be based on the Connecticut forms. Depending on their connection to NY, they may want to have a NY power of attorney or NY healthcare proxy. It is important for the attorney to understand not only where a client’s address is but also understand the geography of their social and financial contacts.

Changing Estate Tax Laws in CT

Depending on the total value of your all of your estate’s taxable assets combined, you may or may not be exempt from CT’s state estate taxes. Your estate planning attorney in CT should be aware of how the state’s estate tax exemption is rapidly changing over the next few years.

The threshold for exemption from CT state estate taxes is moving from rather low compared to the average to actually quite high, and eventually will be matched to the federal exemption level. This is good news for estate holders and families in the near future, but it adds an extra layer of complexity in planning for estate taxes in CT.

The CT state estate tax exemption is:

  • $2.6MM for 2018

  • $3.6MM for 2019

  • $5.1MM for 2020

  • $7.1MM for 2021

  • $9.1MM for 2022

  • Matching the federal rate for 2023 and beyond. The federal rate is currently $11.4MM.

In addition to being a moving target, the value of your taxable estate needs to be derived in a particular way. For instance, your local estate planning attorney in Connecticut ought to know that your taxable assets include life insurance but not property from out of the state, which can make a huge difference in how you plan for estate taxes.

Surprises in CT Estate Planning Laws

Another surprising result comes up for CT in cases of intestacy. Intestacy is the state of having no will in place at the time of your passing. Intestates depend on the state government to determine who will inherit their will after death. In most cases it will go to their next of kin: spouse, children, grand-children or other living family members depending on the person.

In CT there is a surprising balance of rights in one area, which is for step-children. In most states step-children can never inherit an intestacy, but in Connecticut it is possible if there are no other next-of-kin. An estate planning attorney in CT needs to help clients be aware of this issue if they have step-children.

The Extremely Local Way CT Operates

Other quirks come up that make CT operate in an exceptionally local manner. Probate is the court-supervised practice of distributing a deceased person’s assets to inheritors and creditors. Most states, including New York and New Jersey, have a relatively uniform system that probate courts adhere at a county by county level.

Connecticut actually follows a town by town system for probate courts. Every town in Connecticut adheres to different variations in practice and procedure, which means that an estate planning attorney in CT will need to get familiar with how these courts operate at the city/town level instead of by county.

An Estate Planning Attorney in Connecticut with a Local Presence

So much of the job of an estate planning attorney is done face to face. From the initial interview to the final signing, much is done in person, making this a personal business. In the tight-knit communities that you find in Connecticut, it is important to have someone on your side who knows how things operate at the local level and is an active member of your community.

Estate planning is a long process that involves many moving parts and legal requirements in order to ensure that your wishes are properly executed. Your estate planning attorney is responsible for making sure you know what your homework is, who is responsible for what documents and decisions, and what the next steps are.

Bischof and Bischof LLP helps Connecticut families ensure they pass on as much wealth as possible to future generations and gives families peace of mind through proper estate planning designed to protect and provide for loved ones.

We love to meet members of our local community and help them better understand their options for their estate in plain English, not legalese. If you’re looking to start planning for your family’s future, book an appointment with George today for a no-cost strategy session to learn more and figure out the next steps.