Estates and Trusts

Connecticut Appellate Court finds that Misappropriated Funds should not be part of Probate Estate

Connecticut Appellate Court finds that Misappropriated Funds should not be part of Probate Estate
Przekopski v. Przekop, 124 Conn. App. 238, 4 A. 3d 844 (2010)

The defendants, a sister, individually and as the executrix of her father’s estate, appealed from the judgment of the Superior Court, which upon a de novo appeal of a Probate Court order, denied a motion for rectification or for a corrected judgment, and ordered that the bank accounts misappropriated by the plaintiff brother be returned to the father’s estate for distribution.

The Appellate Court concluded that the Probate Court ordered the proper remedy and that it was improper for the Superior Court to order the transfer of the misappropriated funds from the plaintiff to the estate, instead of directly to the defendant, individually. The decedent used the survivorship accounts as a method of estate planning and he intended for the accounts to pass immediately to the defendant, individually, upon his death and not to be the subject of probate.

The Appellate Court recognized the decedent’s intent and wanted to ensure that the plaintiff did not profit from his abuse of the power of attorney that he utilized to substitute his name for the defendant’s individual name on certain bank accounts containing the funds.  The plaintiff did not engage in fair dealing in transferring certain bank accounts to himself under the power of attorney and abused his position of trust. The power of attorney did not authorize the plaintiff to change the name of the survivor on the accounts.

Because the plaintiff was a beneficiary under his father’s will and stood to inherit some of the funds if they were distributed pursuant to the will, it was error for the Superior Court to order the return of the funds to the estate.  The Appellate Court reversed the judgment only as to the order that the plaintiff transfer to the decedent’s estate all of the misappropriated funds.  The case was remanded with direction to order those funds, with the exception of the sum of $ 11,000, returned to the defendant, individually.

Should you have any questions relating to wills, trusts, estates or probate issues generally, please feel free to contact Joseph Maya at Maya Murphy, P.C. today at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@Mayalaw.com, to schedule a free initial consultation.

Joseph Maya selected to 2022 Edition of Best Lawyers in America

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Westport, CT

 

Maya Murphy, P.C. is pleased to announce that Joseph Maya has been included in the 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®. Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

Joseph Maya, a Connecticut and New York-based litigation attorney, was recognized in The Best Lawyers in America© 2022 edition. He has been rated Best Lawyers in America and ranks among the top private practice attorneys nationwide. Attorneys listed in this edition of The Best Lawyers in America were selected after an exhaustive peer-review survey that confidentially investigates the professional abilities and experience of each lawyer. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Mr. Maya has been practicing law in Connecticut for more than 25 years. He has been a licensed attorney in New York for more than 30 years.

“Best Lawyers was founded in 1981 with the purpose of highlighting the extraordinary accomplishments of those in the legal profession,” said Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer. “We are proud to continue to serve as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals worldwide.”

Lawyers on The Best Lawyers in America list are divided by geographic region and practice areas. They are reviewed by their peers based on professional expertise, and undergo an authentication process to make sure they are in current practice and in good standing.

 

Maya Murphy, P.C. has offices in Westport, CT and New York City. For additional information on Joseph Maya or Maya Murphy, P.C., please visit its website at https://mayalaw.com, or call 203-221-3100.

 

Estate Planning in Connecticut

You may be thinking that if you have a simple will, and you have already planned for your children, there’s no reason to update your estate plan.   But there are lots of good reasons to revisit your estate planning documents, including the following:

 

  • Are you in a high-risk profession, such as being a physician, attorney, or business owner? You may want to consider a Domestic Asset Protection Trust, a tool that the legislature gave Connecticut residents in January 2021, that can be used to protect assets and minimize transfer taxes, while shielding trust assets from future creditors of the grantor.  Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-487j, et seq.
  • Are you a woman of childbearing age? In 2019, the Probate Code was updated to provide specific options in an advance healthcare directive if a decision must be made about whether to provide life support for a pregnant woman.  If you are a woman of childbearing age, laying out your wishes and discussing them with your loved ones could save them a heart-wrenching decision in an unimaginably difficult situation.  Gen. Stat. 19a-575.
  • Did you get a job that offers stock options as compensation? Startups and even established tech giants now regularly offer stock options as part of compensation packages to lure and retain top talent.  Your Power of Attorney can now include giving your agent the power to —or prohibiting your agent from—buying, selling, exchanging, or assigning your hard-earned stock options.  Gen. Stat. Sec. 1-351f.
  • Did you start your own business or company during the pandemic? A good estate plan incorporates business succession instructions so that your family and business partners do not wind up litigating your stake in a business.
  • Have you acquired new property or opened bank accounts? To minimize probate court involvement after your death, it is important to review your assets and make sure that they are properly titled, and that you’ve designated the right beneficiary where appropriate, so that the accounts pass to your beneficiaries with as little entanglement as possible.
  • Have your children gone through major life changes? Maybe your life has been stable, but if you have young children, children with financial challenges such as bankruptcies or creditor difficulties, children who gotten married/divorced, or children with either physical or mental health issues, you may want to consider whether to put their inheritance (no matter how small) into a trust so you can control how the trust assets are spent  A trust can also protect the trust assets – either from creditors or even from your own children or their spouses.  There are many different types of trusts, and a skilled attorney can help you decide whether one of them might fit your needs.
  • Are you interested in so-called “Dynasty Trusts”? Connecticut recently extended the vesting period required by the so-called Rule Against Perpetuities (RAP) to 800 years, instead of the customary 90 years.  Gen. Stat. Sec. 45a-491(f).  While explaining this technical jargon could be the subject of an entire textbook, the bottom line is that this new, super-sized RAP gives Connecticut residents with significant assets some of the greatest flexibility in the nation to retain wealth within families.  But there’s a catch: it only applies to trusts created on or after January 1, 2020.  Because of these new options, it is critical to sit down with an estate planning attorney to determine whether a “Dynasty Trust” would be suitable for your estate.

These are just a sample of the new developments and tools that should be considered in designing an estate plan that fits your unique needs.  The rules governing estate planning are like a complicated jigsaw puzzle.  If just one piece of your estate plan does not fit into the puzzle, your beneficiaries will suffer the consequences, whether they are emotional, financial, or legal.  The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. can assist Connecticut and New York residents with estate planning matters to make sure that your estate plan is drafted carefully and with an eye to the future.  Attorney Joseph C. Maya may be reached at Maya Murphy, P.C., 266 Post Road East, Westport, Connecticut (located in Fairfield County), by telephone at (203) 221-3100, or by email at JMaya@mayalaw.com.  The above is not intended to constitute tax advice, and to discuss the potential tax implications of a will or trust, you should consult with a tax professional.

Is a Will Enforceable If It Was Drafted by A Relative in Connecticut?

If you are unsure whether a will was created by the person purported to have created it, you may choose to contest the will.  To contest the will, you will have to prove bias or fraud and will likely need to assistance of an attorney.  In this situation it would be best to consult an experienced Trusts and Estate attorney who can analyze the circumstances surrounding your doubt and tell you whether you have a case or not.

If you have any questions regarding estates and trusts in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Is a Will Enforceable If It Was Drafted by A Relative in Connecticut?

If you are unsure whether a will was created by the person purported to have created it, you may choose to contest the will.  To contest the will, you will have to prove bias or fraud and will likely need to assistance of an attorney.  In this situation it would be best to consult an experienced Trusts and Estate attorney who can analyze the circumstances surrounding your doubt and tell you whether you have a case or not.

If you have any questions regarding estates and trusts in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Do I Have to Pay Tax on Money Inherited in Connecticut?

Whether inheritance may be taxed depends on the specific facts of your case.  If the money was inherited from an estate outside of Connecticut, it may be subject to an estate tax from that foreign state.  Heirs are generally exempt from paying taxes on any inheritance in Connecticut.  It may be helpful to consult an experienced trusts and estates lawyer in Connecticut who has dealt with similar questions in the past and can educate you on the law.

If you have any further questions regarding trusts and estates in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Do I Have to Pay Tax on Money Inherited in Connecticut?

Whether inheritance may be taxed depends on the specific facts of your case.  If the money was inherited from an estate outside of Connecticut, it may be subject to an estate tax from that foreign state.  Heirs are generally exempt from paying taxes on any inheritance in Connecticut.  It may be helpful to consult an experienced trusts and estates lawyer in Connecticut who has dealt with similar questions in the past and can educate you on the law.

If you have any further questions regarding trusts and estates in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Can I Designate Someone Other than My Spouse As the Beneficiary of my 401k in Connecticut?

Yes, you may designate someone other than your spouse as the beneficiary of your 401k without your spouse’s consent.  Essentially, anyone can be designated as the beneficiary of your 401k whom you designate.  If your spouse is listed as beneficiary and you are interested in changing this to someone else, such as your children, this can be accomplished easily by an attorney.  Perhaps you would like to make the beneficiary of your 401k a trust in the names of your children, to protect the proceeds from your spouse.  There are also tax consequences to consider.  Many options exist, and an experienced attorney can educate you on these options and help you decide the best way to proceed.

If you have any questions regarding trusts or estate planning in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Can I Designate Someone Other than My Spouse As the Beneficiary of my 401k in Connecticut?

Yes, you may designate someone other than your spouse as the beneficiary of your 401k without your spouse’s consent.  Essentially, anyone can be designated as the beneficiary of your 401k whom you designate.  If your spouse is listed as beneficiary and you are interested in changing this to someone else, such as your children, this can be accomplished easily by an attorney.  Perhaps you would like to make the beneficiary of your 401k a trust in the names of your children, to protect the proceeds from your spouse.  There are also tax consequences to consider.  Many options exist, and an experienced attorney can educate you on these options and help you decide the best way to proceed.

If you have any questions regarding trusts or estate planning in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.

Is an Estate Planned in Another State 15 Years Ago Valid in Connecticut?

If the revocable trust that resulted from the estate plan was validly created 15 years ago, then the estate and trust should be entirely valid in Connecticut.  So long as the trust was validly created, there can be no way to satisfy the conditions for revocation of the trust.  If a trust is created in any jurisdiction that abides by United States law, then that trust is valid and recognized in any jurisdiction.  If you are interested in amending the trust, because it is being brought under Connecticut law and was created 15 years ago, you should consult an experienced trusts and estates attorney.  An experienced attorney will facilitate this process for you, and likely handles issues such as this regularly.

If you have any further questions regarding trusts or estate planning in Connecticut, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at (203) 221-3100 or e-mail him directly at JMaya@Mayalaw.com.