2016 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 45a - Probate Courts and Procedure
Chapter 802b - Decedents’ Estates
Section 45a-273 - (Formerly Sec. 45-266). Settlement of small estates without probate of will or letters of administration.
(a) If the aggregate value of a decedent’s solely owned tangible and intangible personal property, excluding property that passes outside of probate by operation of law, does not exceed forty thousand dollars and the decedent had no solely owned real property in this state at the time of his or her death: (1) The decedent’s surviving spouse; or (2) if there is no surviving spouse, any of the decedent’s next of kin; or (3) if there is no next of kin or if the surviving spouse and next of kin refuse, any person whom the court deems to have a sufficient interest in the decedent’s estate, including any person or entity to whom a claim, expense or tax is due, may, in lieu of filing a petition for admission of a will to probate or letters of administration, file an affidavit signed under penalty of false statement in the Probate Court in the district in which the decedent resided.
(b) An affidavit shall contain: (1) A statement whether the decedent received aid or care from the state; (2) a list of the decedent’s solely owned assets, excluding assets that pass outside of probate by operation of law; and (3) a list of all claims, expenses and taxes due from the decedent’s estate in the categories set forth in subdivisions (1) to (7), inclusive, of section 45a-365, which list shall indicate if any of the claims, expenses and taxes have been paid and, if so, by whom.
(c) On receipt of an affidavit, the court shall send a copy of the affidavit to the Department of Administrative Services. The court shall not issue a decree until thirty days after the date on which a copy of the affidavit was sent to the department. Except as provided in this subsection, the court may act on the affidavit without notice and hearing.
(d) Except as provided in subdivision (5) of subsection (f) of this section, if the court finds that no probate proceedings have been instituted in connection with the estate of the decedent, the court shall determine the persons and entities entitled to payment for claims, expenses and taxes in accordance with subsection (e) of this section and the persons entitled to distributions from the decedent’s estate in accordance with subsection (f) of this section. The court shall issue a decree authorizing each holder or registrant of an asset of the decedent to: (1) Transfer the asset directly to specified persons or entities; (2) pay amounts from the asset to specified persons or entities; or (3) transfer the asset to the person filing the affidavit, to be sold and the proceeds paid to specified persons or entities. The court may issue certificates or other documents to carry out the decree. In addition, the court may authorize the person filing the affidavit to release an interest in a mortgage reported on the affidavit.
(e) The court shall determine the persons and entities entitled to payment for the claims, expenses and taxes due from the estate, or reimbursement for such amounts paid on behalf of the estate, in accordance with section 45a-365 except, (1) if a decedent received aid or care from the state or received care in a state humane institution, such reimbursement shall be in accordance with section 17b-95; and (2) if a decedent is obligated to pay the decedent’s cost of incarceration, such reimbursement shall be in accordance with section 18-85c. If the claims, taxes and expenses exceed the fair value of the decedent’s assets, the court shall order payment in accordance with this subsection, provided the procedures for insolvent estates under sections 45a-376 to 45a-383, inclusive, shall not be required.
(f) If the fair value of the decedent’s assets exceeds the total amount of claims, expenses, taxes and any amounts allowed to the family for support under section 45a-320, the court shall proceed as follows: (1) If no purported last will and testament is found, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; (2) if the decedent left a duly executed last will and testament and the will provides for a distribution which is the same as that under the laws of intestate succession, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; (3) if the decedent left a duly executed last will and testament and the will provides for a distribution different from that under the laws of intestate succession, and the heirs at law of such decedent sign a written waiver of their right to contest the will, the court shall order the excess to be paid in accordance with the terms of the will; (4) if the will directs a distribution different from the laws of intestate succession, and the persons entitled to bequests under the will consent, in writing, to the distribution of the estate in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, the court shall order distribution of the excess in accordance with the laws of intestate succession; and (5) if the will directs a distribution different from the laws of intestate succession, the heirs at law do not waive their right to contest the admission of such will, and the persons entitled to bequests under the will do not consent to the distribution of the estate in accordance with the laws of intestate succession, the court shall dismiss the affidavit and permit any party to petition for admission of the will to probate in accordance with section 45a-286. As used in this subsection, the term “will” includes any duly executed codicil thereto.
(g) Any such transfer or payment made pursuant to a decree issued under this section shall, to the extent of the amount so transferred or paid, discharge the registrant or holder of such property from liability to any person on account thereof.
(h) As a condition of such transfer or payment, the registrant or holder may require the filing of appropriate waivers, the execution of a bond of indemnity and a receipt for such transfer or payment.
(i) Any transfer or payment under the provisions of this section shall be exempt from taxation under the provisions of chapter 219.
(j) Any person to whom such transfer or payment has been made shall be liable for the value thereof to the Commissioner of Revenue Services for any estate, succession or transfer tax on the property transferred or payment made and to the executor or administrator of the estate of the decedent thereafter appointed.
(1949 Rev., S. 7049; 1953, 1955, S. 2945d; 1967, P.A. 558, S. 53; P.A. 73-464, S. 1; P.A. 77-614, S. 139, 610; P.A. 78-121, S. 77, 113; P.A. 79-193, S. 1; P.A. 80-476, S. 227; P.A. 81-82, S. 1; P.A. 86-196; P.A. 88-107, S. 1; 88-285, S. 32, 35; P.A. 89-56, S. 2; P.A. 99-84, S. 18; P.A. 07-32, S. 1; P.A. 11-128, S. 4, 5; P.A. 15-217, S. 16.)
History: 1967 act rephrased provisions, added references to death benefits payable under terms of insurance policies and to intangible personal property and increased maximum amount authorized for payment of claims of funeral director or physician from $500 to $1,000; P.A. 73-464 applied provisions to corporate stock or bonds and tangible personal property, including motor vehicles and motor boats, raised maximum value of estate with respect to which provisions apply from $1,000 to $5,000, inserted new procedure whereby court orders transfer of property, rather than the holder of property without court action, as previously was the case, removed limit on payment of physician’s and funeral director’s claims and rephrased provisions re pro rata payments to each, added provisions re transfer fees applied to motor vehicles and motorboats, re tax exemption, re discharge of liability and re tax commissioner’s duties and rights with regard to transfers; P.A. 77-614 replaced tax commissioner with commissioner of revenue services, effective January 1, 1979; P.A. 78-121 referred to saving and loan associations rather than to “building or” savings and loan associations; P.A. 79-193 applied provisions to unreleased interests in mortgages and stated that court decree may authorize surviving spouse or next of kin to release interest in mortgage; P.A. 80-476 divided section into Subsecs., rephrased and reordered provisions but made no substantive changes; P.A. 81-82 amended Subsec. (a) to provide for filing of affidavit when there is no next of kin or next of kin refuses to file, to change maximum value of applicable estate in Subdiv. (2) from $5,000 to $10,000 and to require that affidavit state whether decedent received aid or care from the state, amended Subsec. (c) to allow court to order director payment of funeral director and physician and to require postponement of decree until 30 days after notification of administrative services department when decedent has received public assistance or institutional care and amended Subsec. (e) to require payment of claims in accordance with priorities in Sec. 45-204c if claims exceed value of decedent’s property, replacing provision whereby claimants received pro rata share in such cases, and to require payment to those legally entitled of any excess when value of property exceeds amount of claims; P.A. 86-196 increased maximum value of estate eligible for settlement without probate of will or letters of administration from $10,000 to $20,000 and provided for payment to any creditor to whom debt is due for last sickness of decedent rather than to attending “physician” during last illness; P.A. 88-107 amended Subsec. (c) by adding exception for provisions of Subsec. (e), permitting probate court to issue certification and other documents necessary to carry out intent of section and permitting court to order assets sold and proceeds paid directly to funeral director or creditors and amended Subsec. (e) by adding provisions re distribution of property of decedent; P.A. 88-285 amended Subsec. (a) to replace veterans’ home and hospital commission with department of veterans’ affairs; P.A. 89-56 amended Subsec. (e) to condition its provisions in part on the filing of an affidavit in lieu of application for admission of a will to probate or letters of administration rather than on filing of an application; Sec. 45-266 transferred to Sec. 45a-273 in 1991; P.A. 99-84 amended Subsec. (a) by inserting “or statement signed under penalty of false statement”; P.A. 07-32 amended Subsec. (a) to make a technical change, and in Subdiv. (2), substitute $40,000 for $20,000 re aggregate value of property; P.A. 11-128 amended Subsecs. (a) and (e) to substitute reference to Sec. 45a-365 for reference to Sec. 45a-392, effective July 1, 2011; P.A. 15-217 deleted former Subsecs. (a) to (d) re settlement of estates not exceeding $40,000, added new Subsecs. (a) to (e) re settlement of estates not exceeding $40,000, redesignated existing Subsecs. (e) to (g) as Subsecs. (f) to (h), amended redesignated Subsec. (f) by deleting provision re filing of affidavit in lieu of application for admission of will to probate and adding provision re fair value of decedent’s assets exceeding total amount of claims, expenses, taxes and amounts allowed to family for support, by deleting provision re heirs not waiving right to contest admission of will and adding provision re written consent of persons entitled to bequests under will to distribution in accordance with laws of intestate succession in Subdiv. (4) and by adding Subdiv. (5) re heirs not waiving right to contest admission of will, amended redesignated Subsec. (g) by adding “made pursuant to a decree issued under this section”, deleted former Subsec. (h) re transfer of registration fee for motor vehicles and motor boats, and amended Subsec. (j) by deleting Subdiv. (1) designator, substituting “estate, succession or transfer tax” for “succession or transfer tax” and deleting former Subdiv. (2) re notice of issuance of decree being provided to Commissioner of Revenue Services.