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Jeffrey L Crown
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Jeffrey Crown’s Answers

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  • Generational Skipping Trust

    My Grandmother Created a Trust while she was still alive. She received interest income from the trust up until her death, and at that point my father is to receive interest income and then upon his death I get the principal of the trust. My questi...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Without more information, including reviewing the agreement, it is difficult to give you an answer. However, here a some initial thoughts. As Atty. Basche said, if the trust were revocable, the assets are in her gross estate. If the trust was irrevocable, and she received the income, the assets are probably in her gross estate under the part of the Internal Revenue Code dealing with "transfers with retained interest" (Section 2036).

    You should discuss this with a competent trust and estate lawyer.

    I wish you well

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  • Last Will and testament

    In Connecticut, how long does a person interested in an estate have to contest parts of the Will?

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In Connecticut, you can contest a will at a hearing on the "admission of the will to probate." If the court enters a decree admitting the will, you have, as Atty. Pankowski said, thirty days to appeal to the Superior Court. That period is extended to twelve months if you did not have notice of the Probate proceeding. An appeal to the Superior Court is a complete new trial.

    As far as contests being expensive and difficult to win, that's pretty much true. However, from my experience in a number of contests, representing clients on both sides, if you have "good facts," you can prevail in a will contest. You need to discuss this with an experienced probate lawyer to determine whether it's worth the time and expense to proceed.

    Also, as Atty. Brinkmeier noted, a dispute over a will is not necessarily a contest. There may be a disagreement as to the meaning of words or phrased used in the will. These disputes are called "constructions." The rules governing them are different than those pertaining to contests.

    I hope that this helps.

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  • CT Probate. Why does the monetary value of joint bank accounts listed for Form 706 NT become public? What about my privacy?

    I'm told anyone requesting a copy of the will showing I'm beneficiary will also have access to my joint bank accounts with the deceased once I file DRS Form 706 NT. Don't I have some right to privacy regarding this?

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    You've raised two issues. First, wills of deceased people and probate inventories are "public record" and may be viewed at the probate court. Form CT706NT lists "non-probate" assets, such as joint accounts. Form CT-706 NT may only be seen by estate beneficiaries if the judge grants them access to it.

    The sole purpose of the CT706NT is to establish the statutory probate court fee. That fee is approximately .025% of all assets, including all non-probate assets such as joint accounts, life insurance and so called "living" trusts.

    I hope that this is helpful.

    Jeff Crown

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  • Was this trust attorney's advice unethical?

    Mary was named the successor trustee of a revocable trust. John would become the trustee if Mary declined. After the settlor's death, John's attorney (who had drawn up the trust agreement for John's father) wrote to Mary and told her it would be ...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    I agree regarding not knowing all of the facts. Also, I don't know what you mean by Mary's ability to "delegate" the administration of the trust to others. Trustees have two types of "jobs," called "ministerial acts" and "discretionary acts." Ministerial acts are those that do not require any decision making. Those can be delegated. A trustee cannot delegate discretionary acts to anyone except a co-trustee. One exception is possibly delegating the investment advisory function under some circumstanstances.

    I hope that this is helpful.

    JeffCrown

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  • Why is there still a 30 day waiting period from the lawyer after the Decree from the judge was approved to get in inheritance?

    ..

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    It's because, under the Connecticut statutes, anyone "aggrieved" by the probate court's decree can appeal the decree to the superior court within thirty days. It might be possible to eliminate or shorten the waiting time if ALL of the interested parties file waivers of their right to appeal with the probate court.

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  • Can an executor ask someone to assist him?

    The executor is in his 80s but would like to have his son assist him in settling the estate.

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    He can delegate jobs that are purely administrative, but cannot delegate those that involve the exercise of discretion. The problem is that, as a layman, he probably wouldn't know which tasks are administrative and which are discretionary. As Atty. Zelinger wrote, he should consider hiring a lawyer.

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  • Can a person who is conserved, make his own will without his conservator?

    The person who is conserved will not let the "ward" make his own will.

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    There is a CT Supreme Court case on this. I believe that it's Reid v. Lord. I once had occasion to do a will for a woman under a conservatorship. Before doing it, I informally discussed it with the probate judge. If you're going to do it, I would be very careful to discuss it with the client and obtain witnesses who know him/her and can testify as to his/her capacity. It would help to be able to have the client state the provisions of the will in front of the witnesses and perhaps memorialize their statements.

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  • Is it easier to redo or amend a will?

    I had a will written up by a lawyer 3 years ago (who no longer practices law) and I need to make a minor adjustment to the amount of money that I am leaving one of my kids as I gave one of them some of their inheritance early. I am thinking ab...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    In the "old days," when we had typewriters, we did codicils (amendments) because we didn't want to have to have the will retyped. Codicils have to be filed in the probate court along with the will., so that anyone can see the changes.

    Today, we almost never do codicils. We simply copy the old will, make the changes, and re-execute it. In CT, we have to bring all signed wills to the attention of the court. If we do a new will and the client destroys the prior one(s), no one will know about the changes.

    I hope that this helps.

    Jeff Crown

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  • How do you begin to contest a will? What are the odds of success? What kind of evidence do we need to contest a will?

    My husband was very distraught when his mothers will had been changed recently leaving him only $1. His older sister who appointed herself POA without his knowledge has had an estranged relationship with him has had full control of all his mother...

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Before we get into the issues, there is one thing you must do. You have to have the probate court hearing on the admission of the will postponed until you have obtained a lawyer. As the others have said, you should hire a trust and estate lawyer with experience in will contests.

    Let's deal with your initial questions. You begin a will contest by offering evidence at the hearing on the admission of the will as to your mother in law's lack of capacity and undue influence. The hearing [or series of hearings] will be conducted like a trial, following the rules of evidence. It is important that your lawyer have sufficient time to prepare for the hearing.

    It is impossible to quantify the odds of success without a thorough investigation of all of the facts and circumstances.

    That being said, contesting a will is not easy. Undue influence is established by a showing of a number of factors that are sometimes called "badges of undue influence." These include isolating the person from her family, creating an atmosphere of dependence and sometimes of fear, the fact that the person is in poor physical or mental health, effects of prescription drugs on her mental processes, whether the alleged influencer's lawyer drafted the will, whether he or she was in the room when the will was discussed and signed. This is not an exhaustive list. These are only some of the factors.

    As to lack of capacity, in order to make a will, one has to have the ability to know what her assets consisted of, who the members of her family were and the effect of the document. She must know that it was a will that she was signing. She must also be free of delusions. Some years ago, I participated in a will contest where the testator was convinced that all of his siblings, including his brother, "Joe," were stealing from him. At the time that the will was executed, "Joe" had been dead for five years and could not have been one of the thieves.

    I hope that this makes sense and I wish you well.

    Jeff Crown

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  • Can a probate judge subponea a copy of the will from the attorney who created it.

    We cannot find my Mother's will. She is deceased. But we know the attorney who created the will and he refuses to produce the copy.

    Jeffrey’s Answer

    Let's start with the issue of a copy of a will vs. the original will. If an original will can't be found, and if it was in the hands of the testator [will maker], there is a presumption that he or she revoked it. This presumption can be overcome, but it requires substantial evidence. We had a copy admitted after a trial where it was proven that the woman had put the will in her pocketbook, placed the pocketbook on the roof of her car and drove off. Admitting a copy of a will over objection is very difficult.

    If you choose to pursue this, you should contact a lawyer who might be able to subpoena the copy.

    I hope that this helps.

    Jeff Crown

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