In order to have the proper capacity to execute a will, the testator must be able to understand the nature of their acts, the nature and extent of their property, the proposed disposition of such property, the natural objects of their bounty, and that they’re executing a will that represents their last wishes. Atchison v. Lewis, 131 Conn. 218, 219 (1944). In simpler terms, a testator must understand what property their estate consists of, the family members who should be beneficiaries of the estate, and how the will distributes property to those individuals. A will must be in writing and signed by the testator. At least two witnesses must be present at the time the will is signed, and they also must sign the will to verify that they were present. C.G.S. § 45a-251.The signature of the testator must be in the same manner that he or she signs all other documents, and the two witnesses should be disinterested–that is, they cannot be beneficiaries under the will. If the witnesses are not disinterested, the devise or bequest they were to receive under the will would be void unless two other disinterested witnesses signed the will, or if the subscribing witness/beneficiary is also an heir of the testator. C.G.S. § 45a-258.
It should be noted, Connecticut does not recognize oral (nuncupative) or non-witnessed handwritten (holographic) wills. See Appeal of Stone, 74 Conn. 301 (1901), see also Owens v. Doyle, 152 Conn. 199 (1956). In addition, a will should include a self-proving affidavit. Under Connecticut General Statutes, a self-proving affidavit allows the attesting witnesses to sign, under oath, a statement of facts they would be required to testify to in court to prove the validity of the will. C.G.S. § 45a-285. This reduces costs, as well as disputes that can lead to litigation and the difficulty of finding subscribing witnesses years later to testify in the event of a will challenge. Ultimately, the affidavit confirms the essential elements of a duly executed will, and makes it more difficult to challenge it. Wheat v. Wheat, 156 Conn.575
As a side note, individuals who die in Connecticut but who have a will executed in another state need not worry. Decedents with out of state wills are not prevented from going to probate if the decedent passes in Connecticut. The same formalities for in-state wills do not apply to wills executed outside of Connecticut. If a will was validly executed according to the laws of the other state, it will be admitted to probate in Connecticut even if the other state’s formalities do not comply with Connecticut’s laws. Owens v. Doyle, 152 Conn. 199 (1956). It is, however, advisable to update a will if the testator becomes a Connecticut Resident.
Formalities of Executing a Valid Will in Connecticut
In Connecticut, any person 18 years of age or older and of sound mind may dispose of his or her estate by will. C.G.S. § 45a-250.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph C. Maya, Esq.
Joseph C. Maya is the Managing Partner at Maya Murphy, P.C., and offers deep knowledge and experience in estate planning, trusts, estate administration and commercial law services in Connecticut and New York.
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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws and.how they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.