Have you experienced a divorce or major life change recently? If you have, did you update your Will and other estate planning documents to reflect said change?
It’s Tuesday Tip time!


And if you don’t have a Will at all, click this link for some basic information about Wills and why you really should have one: http://guertinandguertin.com/will_and_testament.php


Your estate plan is only as good as your children’s estate plans. If your children are not properly protected then their inheritance isn’t either. If your children have not done any estate planning then their inheritances (meaning YOUR MONEY) are not protected from their creditors, lawsuits, irresponsible spending, and ex- and current spouses. Thankfully there is an easy fix for this. Make sure your kids plan for their futures as well. Have them see a qualified estate planning attorney to ensure their inheritances are fully protected. This can be your attorney, or some other reputable professional. Once they are protected, you can rest easy knowing your estate plan and legacy are secure.


Keep the Peace!  Hold a family meeting to discuss which assets will go to which family member and why.

Managing conflicts is a common occurrence in Estate Planning in Connecticut and around the country. Help keep the peace in your family after you pass by holding a family meeting now to discuss which assets will go to which children and family members. This will give you a chance to explain your decisions and hopefully reduce tensions that could arise among siblings or other family members later on. It’s a simple estate planning strategy that goes a long way in maintaining family harmony.

Two thumbs up for making a plan for your minor children BEFORE going on a “parents only” getaway.

If you are a parent of a minor child (or children) you should think about who would take care of your kid or kids if you suddenly perished. Regardless of whether you’re planning an “adults only” vacation, you should have a Will and it should name a Guardian to take care of your children, and also a Trustee to manage the money (typically life insurance benefits) you have set aside for them. This type of simple planning is one of the best things you can do to protect your family in the event that tragedy hits.


Tip_16When a person dies without making a Will he or she dies “intestate.” If you die intestate your property will pass according to the State of Connecticut Intestate Succession Laws. If you’re married, this means that your spouse will receive the first $100,000 plus one half of the balance of the intestate estate. Your children will receive the remainder. And if your kids are 18 or older, they will receive the money outright.

For example, let’s assume you’re married with 19-year-old twin daughters and have a $500,000 estate. If you died without making a Will, your spouse would receive $300,000 ($100,000 plus half of the remaining $400,000) and your daughters would each receive $100,000. Even the most mature 19-year-old may have difficulty managing a check for $100,000. A new car, luxury vacations or other temptations may be too much for a young person with a large sum of inherited money to handle.

Making a Will allows you to direct where your assets go, as well as enact measures to protect your children from the perils of receiving a large sum of money outright. Remember, if you don’t make an estate plan Connecticut will make one for you. Protect your family and your interests by creating a Will that reflects your wishes. Don’t wait until it’s too late.


Helpful Links:

Dying Without a Will – Connecticut

Intestacy in Connecticut

FAQs about Estates from Connecticut Probate Court




Connecticut Probate with or without a Will

If you die with a valid Will your estate will go thru the probate process. If you die without a Will and own property, your estate will also have to go through probate. Probate is the process of admitting your Will as a valid legal document, and then disposing of the property of the estate according to the guidelines set forth in the Will. In short, probate is the process of gathering your assets; paying your debts, expenses and taxes; and distributing property to designated beneficiaries. In Connecticut, this process typically takes up to a year to complete and can be expensive and cumbersome.

If all of this sounds a little confusing, that’s because it is! If you’ve ever wondered what actually happens when one probates an estate you should join Attorneys George and Marc for a free workshop on Saturday, July 26th at 10 am at our offices in North Haven. The program, “Demystifying the Probate Process” will address the ins and outs of the process, the probate timeline, non-legal practical matters involved and how to avoid probate altogether. Please call 203-234-7400 to reserve your seat or email info@guertinlaw.net.


Summertime in Connecticut and elsewhere usually makes one think of ice cream, the beach, barbecues and family vacations. But before you pack up the family and hit the road for an epic adventure take a few moments to review your estate planning documents to ensure they are still accurate. An out-of-town emergency is not the time to find out your durable power of attorney or health care directive no longer reflects your wishes.

Just think how much more relaxing your vacation will be when you know your estate plan is up-to-date!

Conservator in ConnecticutIf you became incapacitated TODAY who would legally make decisions for you? If you’re lucky, you’ll never be faced with this situation. If you’re smart, you won’t rely on luck and will have already chosen this person via your durable power of attorney (DPOA). If you don’t plan ahead and become incapacitated, the Probate Court will appoint a Conservator to oversee your affairs.  The court will try to determine who the conserved person prefers but, if a conflict exists, may appoint an uninterested party!

The reality is that incapacity strikes people of all ages. It is in your best interests to take the time now, while you have all of your faculties, to execute a DPOA. If not, don’t be surprised to discover the court has made the decision for you.

And how lucky will you feel then?

Selecting a nursing home for a loved one is one of the most important and difficult decisions that you may be asked to make. This decision is usually made during a time of crisis, frequently when a family member is ready to leave the hospital after a serious illness or operation. It would be easier on everyone if this decision could be planned for. However this is usually not the case. Just remember, be nice to your kids… they are going to pick out your nursing home. I jokingly tell my parents that their nursing home choice will be based on their behavior at the time.yes-238378

The first issue to decide is whether or not a nursing home is really necessary. Would some type of home services be adequate? This issue should be discussed with your physician, as well as other healthcare providers. There are many types of services available for people who choose to remain at home, such as home health care, adult day care centers, respite care (where another person can provide the caregiver some relief to allow for shopping, errands, or just a little “down time”) and hospice in-home care.

An option for those individuals who do not need the level of care that nursing homes provide is an Assisted Living Community.   These communities provide many of the benefits of a skilled nursing facility but in a more home-like setting. They do not provide skilled nursing care, but will assist the resident in various activities such as dispensing medication, cleaning their room or apartment, providing meals, as well as various activities. Often the monthly cost of these communities is considerably less expensive than skilled nursing facilities, and may have special programs and special living arrangements for folks with cognitive impairments like dementia

Once it has been determined that an individual needs care in a nursing home you should allow that person, if they are able, to be a part of the process of selecting a facility. Ask professionals in the field, friends or acquaintances who have been in a similar situation for information. The Connecticut State Agency on Aging has an Ombudsman program that can provide information on particular nursing homes, however you should also visit different homes to see what they are like. Talk to staff members, other residents and their families. You should visit each home more than once and at different times of the day. Ask if they have activities for the residents. Ask to see menus for daily meals. Also, ask what the costs are at each home. Another thing you may want to do is to just walk around the home and observe the condition of the facility and the residents.

Nursing homes have their own doctors. You should find out about the doctors, their credentials, how often they visit and if they are willing to meet with the family to discuss plans for treatment.

Federal law requires that residents have the right to be free from restraints administered for the purpose of discipline or convenience and not required to treat medical conditions. If you see residents in restraints, you should question the facilities staff about the nursing home’s policy on restraints.

Be sure to visit more than one nursing home before you decide. You can be on a waiting list at many homes and then choose the home you want. A little advanced planning can save you from having to make a quick decision when you are forced to find a nursing home in an emergency.

Helpful Links:

Ombudsman Program at Connecticut State Agency on Aging

Connecticut’s Long Term Care Services and Supports Website

US News & World Report Top Connecticut Nursing Homes


If you have questions that you’d like answered in a future blog post, email me at marc@guertinlaw.net.


Image Copyright 2014 by Guertin and Guertin, LLC. All rights reserved.

Part of making your Will in Connecticut includes the naming of an executor. An executor is the person you pick to wrap up your earthly affairs after you’ve passed away. The person you pick to fill this role does not need to be a legal or financial expert, but he or she must have a high level of honesty and integrity, as well as a keen attention to detail. The executor has a legal duty (or fiduciary duty) to act solely in another party’s interests. Their responsibilities include collection and distribution of assets, as well as payment of your debts. Choosing the wrong executor can be an invitation to a Will Contest, family fights, delays, and loss of assets. Think long and hard about this decision, and choose wisely!



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