Here's a quick checklist for making a will in Connecticut:
A will, also called a "last will and testament," can help you protect your family and your property. You can use a will to:
In Connecticut, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to state "intestacy" laws. Connecticut's intestacy law gives your property to your closest relatives, beginning with your spouse and children. If you have neither a spouse nor children, your grandchildren or your parents will get your property. This list continues with increasingly distant relatives, including siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and stepchildren. If the court exhausts this list to find that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, the state will take your property.
No. You can make your own will in Connecticut, using Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. However, you may want to consult a lawyer in some situations. For example, if you think that your will might be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should talk with an attorney. Nolo's will-making products tell you when it's wise to seek a lawyer's advice.
To make a will in Connecticut, you must be:
In Connecticut, your will must be in writing. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-251. This means that it must be on actual paper, not in an audio or video file. (Although, see "Can I Make a Digital or Electronic Will?," below.) Also, Connecticut does recognize wills as valid if they were made in other states and conformed to those states' laws. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-251. Connecticut does not permit handwritten (holographic) wills.
To finalize your will in Connecticut:
Neither witness should be a beneficiary of the will. Under Connecticut law, the witness of the will could lose any gift made to them under the terms of the will. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-258.
No, in Connecticut, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal.
However, Connecticut allows you to make your will "self-proving" and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept the will without contacting the witnesses who signed it.
To make your will self-proving, you and your witnesses will go to the notary and sign an affidavit that proves who you are and that each of you knew you were signing the will. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-285.
Yes. In Connecticut, you can use your will to name an executor who will ensure that the provisions in your will are carried out after your death. Nolo's Quicken WillMaker & Trust. produces a letter to your executor that generally explains what the job requires. If you don't name an executor, the probate court will appoint someone to take on the job of winding up your estate.
In Connecticut, you may revoke or change your will at any time. You can revoke your will by:
If you need to make changes to your will, it's best to revoke it and make a new one. However, if you have only very simple changes to make, you could add an amendment to your existing will – this is called a codicil. In either case, you will need to finalize your changes with the same formalities you used to make your original will (see above).
If you and your spouse divorce (or if a court determines that your marriage is not legal), Connecticut law revokes any language in your will that leaves property to your spouse or names your spouse to be your executor. This rule does not apply if you specifically state in your will that divorce should not affect the provisions in your will. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 45a-257c. If you have any concerns about the repercussions of divorce on your will, see an estate planning attorney for help.
In a few states, you can make a legal will digitally – that is, you can make the will, sign it, and have it witnessed without ever printing it out. Although such electronic wills are currently available in only a minority of states, many other states are considering making electronic wills legal. It is generally assumed that most states will allow them in the near future.
You can find Connecticut's laws about making wills here: General Statutes of Connecticut Title 45a Probate Courts and Procedure Chapter 802a Wills: Execution and Construction.