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

Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3994

AC42548 - In re Probate Appeal of Buckingham (Probate appeal; subject matter jurisdiction; fraud; "An unusual feature of Connecticut law involves the role of the Superior Court in probate appeals. In such appeals, the Superior Court sheds its status as a constitutional court of general jurisdiction and assumes the status of a statutory Probate Court of limited jurisdiction. See In re Probate Appeal of Knott, 190 Conn. App. 56, 61, 209 A.3d 690 (2019); State v. Gordon, 45 Conn. App. 490, 494–95, 696 A.2d 1034, cert. granted on other grounds, 243 Conn. 911, 701 A.2d 336 (1997) (appeal dismissed October 27, 1998). In the present case, we are asked to decide whether, while adjudicating a probate appeal, a Superior Court may entertain a direct challenge to a probate decree admitting a will to probate based on a claim of fraud. Because, in the context of the present case, such claim of fraud may be raised only by way of a separate equitable action and not a probate appeal, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing the probate appeal filed by the plaintiffs, Sheryl Buckingham and Darlene Dunn, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3969

AC42587 - Lamberton v. Lamberton ("The plaintiffs, Lance Lamberton and Roark Lamberton-Davies, appeal from the Superior Court's judgment in a de novo appeal from an order of the Probate Court for the district of Stamford awarding the defendant Rearden Lamberton, the nominated executor, legal fees incurred in the defense of a will in Probate Court, pursuant to General Statutes § 45a-294.The plaintiffs claim that the Superior Court (1) erroneously found that a nominated executor in a will not yet admitted to probate has standing to seek reimbursement of fees prior to being appointed as an executor by the Probate Court while a will contest is pending and (2) abused its discretion in awarding the fees prior to the conclusion of a hearing on the merits of an objection to the writing submitted to probate.

…We conclude that the court properly decided that § 45a-294 permits the award of legal fees as a reasonable expense incurred by a nominated executor to defend a will prior to admission of the will to probate. We further conclude that, in light of the reasons for appeal to the Superior Court and the paucity of the stipulation of facts, the court properly decided that the plaintiffs waived or conceded the issue of their reasonableness.")


Declaratory Judgment Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3927

AC42251 - Vaicunas v. Gaylord ("The plaintiffs, David Vaicunas and Joseph Kobos, appeal from the judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants, Regina R. Gaylord, Kevin McGuire, Deborah Foster, John McGuire, and Scott McGuire, on the count of the complaint alleging undue influence exerted on Helen Rachel in amending The Helen K. Rachel Revocable Trust Indenture. The plaintiffs also appeal from the judgment of the trial court rendered after it granted the motion by the defendants to set aside the jury’s verdict in favor of Vaicunas on the count for adverse possession of certain real property owned by Helen Rachel. On appeal, Vaicunas claims that the court improperly set aside the jury verdict with respect to adverse possession, and both plaintiffs claim that the court (1) abused its discretion by declining to admit the plaintiffs’ offer of evidence as to the character of Helen Rachel, which was relevant to their claim for undue influence and (2) improperly charged the jury on the law of undue influence. We conclude that the trial court properly set aside the verdict on the claim for adverse possession and, as to the plaintiffs’ claim of undue influence, we reject their assertions of evidentiary and instructional error on the part of the court. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")



Probate Law Appellate Court Opinions

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3878

AC41545 - Presto v. Presto ("The plaintiff Charles Presto, in his capacity as the executor of the estate of William Presto, and in his individual capacity, appeals from the judgment dismissing his declaratory judgment action against the defendants, Teodozja Presto, Andrzej Mazurek, and Stanislaus Mazurek, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground that the claims raised were not ripe for adjudication. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3866

AC42198 - Cook v. Purtill ("The plaintiff, Edward Werner Cook, appeals from the judgment of the trial court denying his motion to open the judgment dismissing his probate appeal. The plaintiff filed this appeal as the trustee of a charitable trust, The Caprilands Foundation (foundation). Because the plaintiff is not an attorney and has appeared without counsel on behalf of a trust, we conclude that the plaintiff does not have the authority to represent the trust. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.")



Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3608

AC40579 - Jackson v. Drury ("The self-represented plaintiffs Nancy Burton (Burton), and Margaret Jackson and Miarden Jackson (Jackson plaintiffs), appeal from the judgment of dismissal rendered by the Superior Court in favor of the defendants, The Washington Trust Company (trust company) and Lauren K. Drury, vice president and senior fiduciary officer of the trust company. The plaintiffs had appealed to the Superior Court from a decision of the Probate Court for the district of New London. On appeal, the plaintiffs have asserted numerous claims as to why the court erred in dismissing their probate appeal but principally argue that the court improperly dismissed their appeal as untimely. In its brief to this court, the trust company claims that Burton is not aggrieved by the Probate Court's decision and, therefore, her appeal should be dismissed. We agree that Burton is not aggrieved by the Probate Court's decision. We also conclude that the Superior Court properly dismissed the plaintiffs' probate appeal because it was not timely filed. We, therefore, affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3483

AC41980 - In re Probate Appeal of Knott ("The narrow question presented in this appeal asks us to determine whether the Superior Court improperly dismissed the probate appeal of the substitute plaintiff, Andrew S. Knott, administrator of the estate of Lucille S. Kirsch, as untimely. Specifically, the substitute plaintiff argues that his appeal was not untimely because an application for a waiver of fees (fee waiver) had been filed pursuant to General Statutes § 45a-186c, which tolled the time limit set forth in General Statutes § 45a-186 (a). We agree with the substitute plaintiff and, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Probate Law Supreme Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3442

SC20009 - Hynes v. Jones ("The dispositive issue in this certified appeal is whether the Probate Court has jurisdiction to approve or monitor use of a September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (fund) award that had been paid to a surviving spouse as a 'representative payee' for the benefit of her minor child. The plaintiff, Carolyne Y. Hynes, appeals, upon our grant of her petition for certification, from the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the trial court dismissing her appeal from the decree of the Probate Court. Hynes v. Jones, 175 Conn. App. 80, 82–85, 167 A.3d 375 (2017). On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the Probate Court lacks jurisdiction over a fund award paid to the plaintiff as a "representative payee" because that award is neither (1) the property of the estate of her late husband, the decedent Thomas Hynes, within the meaning of General Statutes § 45a-98 (a), nor (2) the property of their daughter, Olivia T. Hynes, within the meaning of General Statutes § 45a-629 (a), which governs property to which a minor child is 'entitled,' or General Statutes § 45a-631 (a), which governs property 'belonging to' a minor. We agree with the plaintiff and, accordingly, reverse the judgment of the Appellate Court.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3383

AC40671 - In re Probate Appeal of Kusmit ("In this dispute over attorney's fees, the plaintiffs, the coadministrators of the estate of Connor Kusmit, appeal from the judgment of the Superior Court rendered in favor of the defendant Douglas Mahoney. We conclude that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge that judgment. We, therefore, lack subject matter jurisdiction and, accordingly, dismiss the plaintiffs' appeal.")


Declaratory Judgment Appellate Court Opinion

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3278

AC38734 - Day v. Seblatnigg ("The principal issue in this case is whether a settlor of a revocable trust who is later under a voluntary conservatorship may, while under conservatorship, acting on her own behalf, convert the trust to an irrevocable trust without action by her conservator and without her conservator obtaining Probate Court approval. The defendant, First State Fiduciaries, LLC, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court granting the motion of the plaintiff, Margaret E. Day, coconservator of the estate of Susan D. Elia, for summary judgment and declaring that the Susan D. Elia Irrevocable Trust dated September 15, 2011 (Delaware irrevocable trust) was void ab initio and unenforceable, and that all transfers of assets from Elia's conservatorship estate to the Delaware irrevocable trust or its wholly owned limited liability company, Peace at Last, LLC, were unauthorized and improper and ordering that the assets from Elia's conservatorship estate that were transferred to the Delaware irrevocable trust to Peace at Last, LLC, shall be immediately returned to Elia's conservatorship estate.

"On appeal, the defendant claims that the court erred in granting the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment in the absence of an indispensable party, Bryn Mawr Trust Company of Delaware (Bryn Mawr). We conclude that the court properly determined that Elia could not lawfully replace the Connecticut revocable trust with the Delaware irrevocable trust while under a conservatorship. We also conclude that the court properly determined that the former conservator of Elia's estate, Renee F. Seblatnigg, could not transfer the assets of the conservatorship estate to the Delaware irrevocable trust and that this transfer was void ab initio. Finally, we conclude that Bryn Mawr was not an indispensable party. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.")


Standards of Practice for Conservators

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=3052

This notice has been posted to the Connecticut Probate Courts website: In accordance with General Statutes section 45a-77(h), the Probate Court Administrator has adopted standards of practice to provide guidance to Probate Court-appointed conservators. The Probate Court Administrator developed the standards with assistance from the Probate Assembly and professionals in the field of elder justice and conservatorships.

The standards can be viewed by clicking on the link below:


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Zigadto, Janet

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=2920

AC39087 - Bassford v. Bassford (Probate appeal; "The plaintiffs . . . appeal from the judgments of the trial court, dismissing their consolidated appeals from the Court of Probate for the district of Middletown. On appeal, the plaintiffs claim that the trial court erred as a matter of law by concluding that the decedent, an involuntarily conserved person, (1) was competent (a) to revoke a certain trust he had settled and (b) to receive and retain interest in real property, (2) had the testamentary capacity to execute a will, and (3) was not under the undue influence of the defendant . . . We affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Booth, George

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=1884

AC40602 - In re Sandy J. M.-M. (Probate appeal; whether trial court improperly dismissed appeal from decision of Probate Court dismissing petition by minor child seeking special immigrant juvenile status findings and denying petition for removal of guardian; "The petitioner, Sandy J. M.-M., asks this court, by way of a motion filed on January 9, 2018, to reverse summarily the trial court’s dismissal of her appeal from a decision of the Probate Court denying her petition seeking special immigrant juvenile status findings. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101 (a) (27) (J) (2012); General Statutes § 45a-608n (b). We conclude that the resolution of this appeal is controlled by our Supreme Court’s recent decision in In re Henrry P. B.-P., 327 Conn. 312, 173 A.3d 928 (2017), and that summary reversal is appropriate in the circumstances of this case. Accordingly, we grant the petitioner's motion and reverse the judgment of the trial court.")


Updated Probate Court Regulations Affecting Compensation for Court-Appointed Professionals

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=852

This notice has been posted to the Connecticut Probate Courts website: "On January 1, 2018, regulations were updated that affect compensation for court-appointed attorneys, guardians ad litem, physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists."

The full-text of probate regulations can be found on the Probate Court Regulations page.


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=792

AC39446 - Geci v. Boor ("In this consolidated probate appeal, the defendant David Boor appeals from the judgments rendered by the trial court in favor of the plaintiff, Alice K. Geci. The defendant claims that (1) the court erred by finding that, upon the death of the decedent, William F. Klee, the plaintiff became the sole owner of joint bank accounts held by the decedent and the plaintiff, and, thus, they were not part of his estate, and (2) the court abused its discretion by reinstating the plaintiff as the executrix of the decedent’s estate. We disagree with the defendant and, therefore, affirm the judgments of the trial court.")


Probate Law Appellate Court Opinion

   by Roy, Christopher

 https://jud.ct.gov/lawlib/LawLibNews/Posts/Post.aspx?Id=695

AC39024 - Eder’s Appeal from Probate ("David Eric Eder (David Eder), the biological son of the settlor, John Dennis Eder (settlor), appealed to the Superior Court from a decree of the Probate Court concluding that the remainder beneficiaries of the John Dennis Eder Annuity Trust (trust) include not only the settlor’s biological child, but also his adult adopted children. Following a hearing, the Superior Court concluded that the Probate Court properly had construed the trust and dismissed the appeal. David Eder appealed to this court, claiming that, as a matter of law, the Superior Court erred by holding (1) that the settlor’s intent in establishing the trust was not relevant to determining whether the subject adoptions were a sham and (2) that the adoptions did not contravene the purpose and intent of the trust because the adoptees were the natural objects of the settlor’s bounty. We affirm the judgment of the court.")


2017 Probate Court Rules of Procedure

   by Mazur, Catherine

 https://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

 https://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.")


1 2