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When a Connecticut person who owns property dies, the Probate Court becomes involved to oversee the division of property among the persons legally entitled to it. A quick guide to the basic process and your responsibilities as executor or administrator:
Steps to Administer an Estate in Connecticut
Step 1: File the will and Petition/Administration or Probate of Will, PC-200, within 30 days of the decedent’s death.
The PC-200 should be accompanied by the original will and codicils, if any, and a certified copy of the death certificate. The petition must contain the names and addresses of all heirs and beneficiaries. Each receives a copy and has the right to request a hearing. If no hearing is requested, the court formally appoints the executor or an administrator.
Step 2: Take possession of the decedent’s property.
The first responsibility of the fiduciary is to gather the assets of the estate and place them under his or her control. When this includes real estate:
- Utility company accounts that will remain open should be transferred to the estate
- The property should be secured, protected from the elements and insured
- The fiduciary must keep the estate's income, assets and expenses completely separate from his or her own
Step 3: The fiduciary must file a Notice for Land Records/Appointment of Fiduciary, PC-251, within two months of appointment as fiduciary with the town clerk in each town in Connecticut where real estate owned by the decedent is located.
Step 4: File Inventory, PC-440, within two months of appointment as fiduciary. The fiduciary must file an inventory of the estate with the Probate Court within two months of appointment as fiduciary.
All property must be valued on the inventory at its fair market value at the time of death. It is the responsibility of the fiduciary to determine these values through inquiry and his or her own experience.
The value of real estate may be determined in one of several ways, including:
- A written appraisal
- A comparative market analysis by a real estate agent
- The assessed value from the local tax assessor
- The actual sale price obtained in an arm’s-length transaction within six months following the decedent’s death
The balance of any mortgage on real estate and the name of the person or corporation to whom the debt is owed must be included.
Step 5: Obtain cash for estate administration as needed.
The fiduciary should anticipate the cash needs of the estate to pay for administration expenses, taxes, claims and bequests. The court may allow the fiduciary to convert into cash any personal property not specifically bequeathed but must obtain permission from the Probate Court to sell, mortgage or otherwise convey real estate, unless specifically authorized to do so under the terms of the will.
Step 6: Follow statutory procedures for the payment of claims against the estate, and file Return of Claims and List of Notified Creditors, PC-237, at the required time.
“Claims” refer to debts incurred during the decedent’s lifetime and unpaid at the time of death If the assets of the estate are not adequate to pay the debts, the estate may be settled as insolvent. If mortgages against the real estate exceed the value of the property you will need to consider a short sale to sell the property.
Step 7: File tax returns and pay applicable taxes.
The executor or administrator is responsible for filing necessary tax returns and paying taxes in connection with the estate.
Step 8: File final financial report or account, usually within 12 months of the decedent’s death.
Every executor or administrator must file a financial report or account with the court when the administration of the estate is complete, and the heirs and beneficiaries will have the right to request a hearing. In the absence of such a request, the court may proceed to approve the financial report or account.
Step 9: Distribute assets to beneficiaries.
A final financial report or account must report all distributions made to heirs or beneficiaries, as well as distributions that are proposed to be made. When the court approves the final financial report or account, it will order the fiduciary to distribute the remaining assets of the estate according to the approved distribution.
Step 10: File Affidavit of Closing of Estate, PC-213.
For all practical purposes, the filing of the affidavit is the executor or administrator's final act as fiduciary.
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