Attorney F.W. O'Connor of CT

The Law Office of F. William O'Connor, LLC

P.O. Box 1224
20 East Main Street
Avon, CT 06001-1224

Telephone: 860.677.2254
Fax: 860.676.8912



The document offered below is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. With respect to any specific issue or problem, you should contact an attorney for advice. Thank you.

-- F.William O'Connor, Attorney at Law



In Connecticut, the Probate process involves several steps. The first step is the filing of the original Last Will and a Application to Admit this Will with the Probate Court in the district where the person died at the time of his or her death. The Probate Court will then notify the beneficiaries and family members of the Will and, unless objected to, the Will gets admitted to the Probate Court.

Within the next 30 days the Executor must file an Inventory of the property owned by the decedent. Only probate property should be inventoried. Probate property is any property owned by the decedent in their own name and at the time of their death does not transfer automatically by way of beneficiary designation (life insurance or retirement accounts) or as a joint-tenant (home).

The Probate Court will have a Notice to Creditors published providing them with 150 days in which to present their claims to the estate. The executor must file a Connecticut Estate Tax Return with the Probate Court within six months from the date of death. If a federal Estate Tax Return is required it must be filed within nine months from the date of death.

The Executor then needs to prepare and file a Final Accounting listing all the cash receipts and disbursements occurring during the estate administration process. It also determines who receives the remaining estate and in what amount and kind of property they will receive their inheritance.

The final step is to distribute the assets pursuant to the decedent’s wishes. This process often takes a year to complete, typically due to the estate tax filings and the creditor notice period.


  1. Upon death, the Will must be filed with the Probate Court within 30 days.
  2. Application for the probate of the Will and Appointment of Executor must be filed with the Probate Court.
  3. The Probate Court publishes a Notice to Creditors who normally have 150 days within which to present their claims.
  4. An Inventory of decedent’s probate assets is completed and filed.
  5. Connecticut Succession Tax Return is filed within 6 months after the date of death.
  6. Federal Estate Tax Return is due 9 months after date of death.
  7. After the taxing authorities sign-off, a Final Accounting is filed with the Probate Court.
  8. Final Distribution of the assets is made


A Revocable Trust (sometimes referred to as a Living Trust) is a trust created by an individual (Grantor) during his or her lifetime into which the individual may or may not transfer some or all of his or her assets during their lifetime. It is confusing because it is intended to be flexible enough to meet many potential objectives. Any assets retiled during the individual’s life will pass outside of probate. Note: in order to avoid probate, the Trust must be fully funded during the Grantor’s lifetime which often does not happen resulting in still needed to open a probate estate.

The major advantages of a Revocable Trust are:

  1. Privacy – Wills are public documents, Trusts are not.
  2. Avoids ancillary administration where property owned outside of Connecticut. If you own a piece of real estate in another state it often makes sense to re-title an out of state property into a Revocable Trust to avoid having to open up another probate estate in the other state.
  3. Avoids Conservatorship by the Probate Court if the Grantor becomes incapable of handling or managing his or her affairs.
  4. Avoids ongoing administration of testamentary trusts by Probate Court.

The major disadvantages of a Revocable Trust are:

  1. Typically the expense in drafting and funding the Revocable Trust which can result in significant legal fees depending upon the client’s requirements and amount of legal resources applied.
  2. The time and effort required to fully-fund the Revocable Trust


Under Connecticut law, the Probate Court’s fees are based on the gross estate for succession tax purposes and the full value of all the property held in a living trust is includible in the Grantor’s gross estate for succession tax purposes whether or not there is not a probate estate. Therefore the Probate Court fee will be payable with or without a Revocable Trust. The potential savings arise from not having to file anything with the Probate Court and not have to incur the legal fees associated with the probate process. This legal cost needs to then be compared with the cost of establishing the Revocable Trust.

Many clients will establish an unfunded Revocable Trust as a type of insurance policy for their estates in the event both die before their children have grown. The trust is funded at their deaths.

The cost to probate a $1,000,000 estate is approximately $3,115. For an estate in the amount of $500,000 the cost to probate the estate would be $1,865. Remember this amount is paid with or without a Revocable Trust.

Most delays in probate are caused by the Connecticut and Federal and State taxing authorities questioning valuation or taxability issues along with the six and nine month filing requirements.

Revocable Trusts are very flexible and are good fits for many clients. Whether or not it makes sense solely to avoid probate is a different question. As long as the cost and benefits of a Living Trust are understood they are appropriate considerations for many clients.


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