The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.
Probate Law

2017 Probate Court Rules of Procedure

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=584

The Connecticut Probate Courts have posted the 2017 edition of the Probate Court Rules of Procedure. The rules became effective on July 1, 2017.

The 2017 edition includes new rules 20 and 21, which address fiduciary actions and the probate mediation panel, respectively. Please see the Probate Court's Summary of Significant Revisions to the Probate Court Rules of Procedure for more information on both the new rules and the amendments to existing ones.


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=574

AC38630 - Hynes v. Jones (Probate; whether Superior Court properly dismissed appeal from Probate Court's denial of motion to dismiss guardianship proceedings; "Following the two devastating terrorist attacks on Washington and New York and a third thwarted by air passengers who died over Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, Congress enacted the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001 (fund) as part of the Air Transportation Safety and System Stabilization Act to indemnify the surviving families of those who died or were injured in the air and on the ground that day. The appeal before us from a judgment of the Superior Court dismissing the appeal of the plaintiff, Carolyne Y. Hynes, from a decree of the Norwalk Probate Court, arises out of a separate payment of $1,271,940.12 made from the fund to the plaintiff as "representative payee" for the benefit of her daughter, Olivia T. Hynes. Olivia is a minor child, who was born after her father, Thomas Hynes, a business executive, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York. At issue is whether the Probate Court for the district of Norwalk had jurisdiction to appoint the plaintiff as guardian of Olivia's estate and to appoint the defendant, Sharon M. Jones, as Olivia's successor guardian ad litem under the authority granted to the Probate Court under the General Statutes, despite the fact that Olivia ceased to reside in the District of Norwalk at the time of the appointment. A second issue is whether the Probate Court lacked jurisdiction to institute the guardianship proceedings because the $1,271,940.12 was later paid directly to Olivia's mother from the fund as "representative payee." We first conclude that because Thomas Hynes was domiciled in Norwalk at the time he died intestate, our General Statutes gave the Norwalk Probate Court authority to supervise the settlement of his estate, determine its distribution, and protect the interests of his minor heir. Pursuant to General Statutes §§ 45a-303 (a), 45a-98, and 45a-438, there were grounds to justify the Probate Court's exercise of jurisdiction as part of its supervision of the administration and distribution of Thomas Hynes' estate, and the Probate Court's and Superior Court's denials of the plaintiff's motion to dismiss. We further conclude that General Statutes §§ 45a-629 (a), 45a-437, and 45a-631 authorized appointment of a guardian because Olivia was entitled to share one half of any award of damages resulting from her father's death, and Olivia was domiciled in Norwalk at the time she became entitled to an award under the fund. Finally, we conclude that the plaintiff's later decision to receive Olivia's award in 2004 as a representative payee did not serve to exempt the $1,271,940.12 that the fund paid on behalf of Olivia from Connecticut's statutory protections for minors' property. We therefore conclude that the Norwalk Probate Court had such jurisdiction and affirm the judgment of the Superior Court acting as the Probate Court on appeal from probate.")


Judicial Branch Now Publishing Headnotes for its Supreme & Appellate Court Opinions

   by Booth, George

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=534

The Judicial Branch has announced that it is now publishing a syllabus (headnote) at the top of each Supreme and Appellate Court opinion:

The Judicial Branch is now posting online headnotes for both Supreme and Appellate Court opinions. These headnotes, which accompany individual Supreme and Appellate Court decisions, include a short summary of the ruling and the procedural history of a case. The Reporter of Judicial Decisions prepares the headnotes, which are not part of the opinion. As such, the opinion alone should be relied upon for the reasoning behind the decision [Emphasis added].

Subscribe to a case law category (or categories) of your choice through our Email Digest or RSS delivery services to receive the latest cases from the Supreme or Appellate Courts delivered directly to your inbox.


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=483

AC38267 - Burnell v. Chorches ("The plaintiffs, David W. Burnell, individually and as executor of the estate of his father, Donald B. Burnell (decedent), and Stephen Lawrence Savarese, the attorney for David W. Burnell in his capacity as executor, appeal from the judgment of the trial court dismissing this action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs brought the action against the defendant bankruptcy trustee Ronald Chorches as an appeal from orders of the Probate Court for the district of Northern Fairfield County stemming from a financial report filed by Burnell in his administration of the decedent’s estate. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that the appeal was untimely because it was not filed in the Superior Court within thirty days of the mailing of the Probate Court’s decree, as required by General Statutes § 45a-186. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


New Probate Fees Online Calculator

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=307

The Connecticut Probate Courts have introduced a new online calculator that allows the user to estimate probate fees for certain Probate Court matters. You can use the calculator to estimate fees for probating decedents' estates, accounts/financial reports, and document recording. It also includes information on filing and copying fees. The Probate Courts' page on Probate Fees and Expenses provides the statutory authority for the fee amounts.

It is important to note that, while the calculator can provide useful estimates, you should still contact the Probate Court directly for the exact fee amount.


Probate Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=238

SC19633 - Heisinger v. Cleary ("This case concerns the standard of care applicable to executors who seek professional advice to value the assets of an estate for the purpose of preparing state and federal estate tax returns. The plaintiff, Cody B. Heisinger, appeals from the trial court's rendering of summary judgment in favor of the defendants, Ward Frank Cleary and Ann Heisinger Dillon, after the plaintiff failed to produce an expert witness on standard of care in his action alleging that the defendants had breached their fiduciary duties by overvaluing an estate asset. The plaintiff claims that the trial court improperly concluded that an expert was required and that, on the undisputed facts, the court instead should have rendered summary judgment, as to liability, in his favor. We agree that an expert witness was unnecessary but conclude, nevertheless, that the trial court properly rendered summary judgment in the defendants' favor because the undisputed facts demonstrated conclusively that they could not be held liable for any errors allegedly committed by the professionals they had selected and retained. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Probate Court Rules of Procedure - 2017 revisions

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=203

Revisions to the Probate Court Rules of Procedure have been approved and posted to the Probate Court's website, with an effective date of July 1, 2017.

The notice also includes a summary of significant rule changes. The revisions amend various rules on documentation and court fees, in addition to creating new provisions concerning petitions for fiduciary action and procedures for mediation.


New Power of Attorney Law in Effect October 1, 2016

   by Booth, George

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=153

Connecticut's new Uniform Power of Attorney Law is in effect as of October 1, 2016. The law is retroactive, so that its provisions apply to all existing valid Power of Attorney documents.

As the Probate Court's website states:

Changes to the Connecticut Uniform Power of Attorney (POA) Act are designed to make powers of attorney easier to use. One important provision requires banks and other financial institutions to honor a POA document and grants new authority to the Probate Courts to compel these institutions to accept POAs. The act also better protects vulnerable individuals from POA abuses and financial exploitation by providing remedies through the Probate Courts.

“Under the old law, many people were frustrated that they had planned ahead only to have a bank disregard the POA for various reasons, including that it was too old or executed on the wrong form,” Probate Court Administrator Paul J. Knierim said. “By allowing people to seek redress in the Probate Courts, the new law helps families and individuals make their financial arrangements with more confidence.”

...

Connecticut’s previous law governing POAs was enacted 51 years ago. With the new law, the state joins 17 other states that have adopted the updated POA law.

The Uniform Power of Attorney Act was adopted in Public Act 15-240, set to be effective July 1, 2016. Public Act 16-40 modified the Act, and delayed the effective date from July 1 to October 1, 2016.

For more information and links to new forms, see the Probate Court's New Power of Attorney Law webpage.


Probate Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=148

SC19563 - Connery v. Gieske ("The plaintiff, W. Hudson Connery, Jr., appeals from the judgment of the trial court, which granted the motion of the named defendant, Elizabeth May Gieske, executrix of the estate of the decedent, Ann May Moore, to dismiss the plaintiff's action. The defendant sought dismissal on the ground that the Probate Court lacked jurisdiction over the parties' dispute because it was barred by the applicable statute of limitations. See General Statutes § 45a-186 (a). The plaintiff, who had been married to the decedent, claims that the trial court improperly treated the present action as an appeal from orders of the Probate Court when, in fact, it is an action to vindicate the plaintiff's right to remove probate matters to the Superior Court pursuant to General Statutes § 45a-98a. The plaintiff further maintains that, even if the trial court correctly determined that the present action is an appeal, it incorrectly determined that it was untimely under § 45a-186 (a). We conclude that the trial court correctly determined that the present action is an appeal. We further conclude, however, that the trial court incorrectly determined that it was barred by the statute of limitations. The record reveals, rather, that the appeal was filed prematurely. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, albeit on a different ground.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 http://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=123

AC37967 - Heisinger v. Dillon
AC37969 - In re Probate Appeal of Heisinger
("In the first action, Cody B. Heisinger v. Ann H. Dillon et al. (AC 37967) (declaratory judgment action), the plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment against Dillon and the trustees, construing the trust to provide that following his father’s death, the trust income formerly distributed to his father should be distributed to him rather than to Dillon. In the second action, In re Probate Appeal of Cody B. Heisinger (AC 37969) (probate action), the plaintiff appealed from a Probate Court order approving an interim accounting of the trust’s assets, including distributions to Dillon of income previously distributed to Frank Heisinger before his death. After all parties in the two actions filed and argued motions for summary judgment, the trial court concluded that the plaintiff was not entitled to receive his deceased father’s distribution of trust income, and thus rendered summary judgment in favor of the defendants in both actions. The plaintiff appeals, claiming that the trial court erred in construing the trust not to entitle him to receive his father’s share of the trust income. We disagree with the plaintiff, and we thus affirm the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendants in the declaratory judgment action and dismiss the appeal in the probate action as moot.")



1