Posted tagged ‘revocable trusts’

Good News about Connecticut Estate Taxes (Avoid Accidental Disinheritance of Surviving Spouse)

November 26, 2017

Good News about Connecticut Estate Taxes. Governor Malloy recently signed a new state budget into law, including significant changes to the Connecticut estate tax exemption that will phase in over the next three years.

The current exemption of $2 million will be increased to $2.6 million in 2018; $3.6 million in 2019; and will be set to match the federal estate tax exemption (currently $5.49 million) in 2020 (after Connecticut made the change to its exemption, the federal exemption was increased to $11,000,000; how Connecticut will react is unclear). While this is good news for those who are worried about estate taxes at death, it could also cause unintended consequences for those with a particular kind of estate plan designed to avoid or minimize estate taxes.

Warning for Surviving Spouses! In many cases, the surviving spouse could be disinherited as the estate tax exemption increases over time. Under the terms of many Wills and revocable trust agreements, the increasing estate tax exemption will effectively shift more of the estate away from the surviving spouse and to an “Exemption Trust” or to family members other than the surviving spouse.

The Devil is in the Details. Many married couples in Connecticut, who expected their combined estates to exceed the pre-2018 $2,000,000 estate tax “exemption,” chose an estate plan (an “Exemption Trust Plan”) that distributes a portion of the estate that is equal to the estate tax exemption into a trust (the “Exemption Trust”) for the benefit of the surviving spouse and descendants. Usually, in an Exemption Trust Plan, the remaining assets pass either outright to the surviving spouse or to a “Marital Trust” for the surviving spouse’s benefit.

The Exemption Trust Plan eliminates the estate tax when one spouse passes away with the other spouse surviving. By the time both spouses have passed away, two exemptions ($4,000,000—the exemptions of both husband and wife) have shielded up to $4,000,000 from the Connecticut estate tax.

The Exemption Trust Plan uses a formula based on the size of the exemption available at the time of death. As the exemption increases, more passes to the Exemption Trust leaving less to pass to the surviving spouse. For example, suppose that you chose the Exemption Trust Plan when you prepared your documents many years ago and suppose that, when you pass away, your estate is worth $5 million. If you were to pass away in 2017, that would mean $2,000,000 (the 2017 Connecticut exemption) would go to the Exemption Trust, while the remaining $3,000,000 would go to your surviving spouse, either outright or in trust. However, if you were to pass away in 2020. after the new estate tax exemption reaches its maximum, your entire estate of $5 million would go to the Exemption Trust, with nothing left for the surviving spouse.

Avoid Accidental Disinheritance of Surviving Spouse. This accidental disinheritance of the surviving spouse can be avoided with proper planning. For example, documents could be amended to modify the formula described above, perhaps requiring that a minimum amount will pass to the surviving spouse regardless of the estate tax exemption that would apply at death. This would be particularly helpful in plans where the marital share is supposed to pass outright to the surviving spouse, since it would guarantee some kind of outright gift to the spouse.

If you have an estate plan that could be impacted by these new tax changes, or if you simply have not revisited your estate plan in some time, please contact our office to discuss the best way to take care of your family after you pass away.

Posted November 26, 2017, by Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC.  For a related treatment of the topic see: Video on Basic Estate Planning after ATRA Updated for 2017.

Video of October 5, 2017, Seminar Posted to YouTube

November 26, 2017

On November 19, 2017, we posted to YouTube the video of our annual fall estate planning seminar (held on October 5, 2017).

senior couple in parkIn Part I (How to Make Certain Your Estate Plan Works as Everything Else Changes), Richard S. Land covers the reasons why an estate planning review might be necessary. Approximately 40 minutes.

In Part II (Senior Autonomy: A Guide to Families as Roles are Reversed), Alyson Marcucio covers planning to maximize autonomy throughout the elder care continuum: health and ability issues (powers of attorney, living trusts, conservatorships, living wills and other health care directives); home care and alternatives (independent living, assisted living, retirement communities, nursing homes); the cost of care and how to plan for it; and public benefits to help pay for care. Approximately 40 minutes.

Both Part I and Part II include planning strategies for the prevention of financial elder abuse including properly structured estate planning powers of attorney, living trusts and related documents.

Although the turnout was great (as usual), many of you could not attend. Here is your chance to find out what you missed. Click on the images below to go to the presentations.

We hope these videos are helpful.  Please let us know if you have any questions.

Chipman Mazzucco
Attorneys at Law
Matrix Corporate Center
39 Old Ridgebury Road
Suite D-2
Danbury, CT 06810

October 5, 2017, Seminar: Senior Autonomy for Families as Roles are Reversed

September 2, 2017

Save the Date October 5, 2017
FREE Seminar!


We invite you to a free seminar on October 5, 2017, at the Ethan Allen Hotel in Danbury, Connecticut (21 Lake Avenue Ext).

Topic: Senior Autonomy: A Guide for Families as Roles are Reversed

Including: How to Make Certain Your Estate Plan Works as Everything Else Changes

The presentation will start at 6:30 PM. For more information, click here:  Seminar October 5.

To register, call 203-744-1929 (please provide your email address) or email us at  You also can register here: Seminar Registration.

The presenters and their topics:

Make Certain Your Estate Plan Works as Everything Else Changes

Richard S. Land, Attorney

As everything around you changes, you may not recognize the impact the changes have on your estate plan.

Laws change; your health and financial condition change; the health and financial condition of your beneficiaries change; maybe your beneficiary designations change as your assets change; and the fates of the people you are depending on to act as your Executors, Trustees, agents under a power of attorney and health care representatives change.

Attorney Richard S. Land will discuss how to make certain that such changes will not interfere with, or totally disrupt, your estate plan.

Preserving Autonomy as Independence Declines

Alyson R. Marcucio, Attorney

How do you plan to maintain autonomy as your independence declines?

To help guide our clients, last year we invited Attorney Alyson R. Marcucio to join us as a Member of the firm after an exhaustive search for an attorney with her skills, knowledge and experience performing long-term care and estate planning services for seniors and the chronically disabled.

Alyson’s presentation will cover planning techniques designed to preserve autonomy as independence declines with aging including home care options, resources available to help create and maintain a safe home environment, planning techniques to maintain control through properly prepared trust agreements, powers of attorney and health care directives, and the relationships necessary to protect your independence when you are most vulnerable.

No Admission Charge

Our seminars are always strictly educational and well attended.  Space is limited so please let us know if you plan to attend.

Light snacks, desserts and beverages will be offered.

To register, click on this link: Seminar Registration..

Please join us at the Ethan Allen Hotel (21 Lake Avenue Ext., Danbury, CT) on October 5, 2017.

We look forward to seeing you.

Chipman Mazzucco
Attorneys at Law
Matrix Corporate Center
39 Old Ridgebury Road
Suite D-2
Danbury, CT 06810

Basic Estate Planning Video Updated for 2017

December 18, 2016

Richard S. Land, Attorney

To help you face your estate planning challenges, we have updated our Basic Estate Planning video presentation for 2017.  You can take a look at the video here (Basic Estate Planning Updated for 2017) or below.

Here is a very brief summary of what the videos cover:

Parts 1 and 2:  No matter where you live (or die), your estate plan can be destroyed if you don’t know the difference between probate property and non-probate property.  We cover this distinction in Part 1.  We also cover what a trust is and how a trust can help accomplish certain estate planning goals:  protecting assets from the beneficiary’s creditors and risks; asset management for a beneficiary who needs management help; estate tax reduction; and more.  We acknowledge that the unfortunate Connecticut estate tax exists (and many other states do not have an estate tax) but, in most cases, we can help with effective workarounds.  Part 2 covers Connecticut and federal estate taxes (also New York estate taxes) including how life insurance death benefits are taxed for estate tax purposes.

Parts 3 and 4:  Your Will can include provisions that reduce or eliminate estate taxes.  Parts 3 and 4 describe such Wills.  Danger:  Existing Wills with old estate tax provisions can have the unintended effect of disinheriting a spouse.  We cover how to deal with such a risk.  We also cover new rules allowing one spouse to give his or her federal estate tax exemption to the surviving spouse.  The surviving spouse’s federal estate tax exemption could be almost $11,000,000.  In addition, we cover Will provisions that can protect assets from a beneficiary’s long term care costs.

Parts 5 and 6:  Not all trusts that are designed to save estate taxes are the same.  Part 5 compares the different types of trusts.  As Part 5 ends, we begin a discussion of common estate planning mistakes and Part 6 continues the discussion.

Parts 7 and 8:  These parts cover estate tax and income tax planning for retirement accounts such as 401(k) accounts and IRAs.

Part 9 to Part 13:  These parts include a complete discussion of revocable living trusts with a comprehensive comparison between a plan that uses a revocable trust and a plan that relies on a Will without making use of a revocable living trust.  Part 13 ends with a description of how Connecticut probate court fees are calculated.

Part 14:  This part covers the basic gift tax rules and techniques.

Part 15:  This is the final part and covers gifts of life insurance policies with brief mention of other advanced gift techniques.

We hope our updated basic estate planning videos help you.  If you have questions about any of the estate planning concepts mentioned in the video, please call.

185775_1745456110853_1072275011_31952001_6630745_n[1]Posted by Richard S. Land, Attorney, Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC, Attorneys at Law, Danbury, CT, 06810, 203-744-1929 x29,


A Seminar: Planning to Protect Seniors & Remedies for Financial Elder Abuse

September 2, 2016

Join Us September 22, 2016

To Our Clients, Clients’ Advisers and other Friends of Chipman Mazzucco:

We invite you to our September 22 Seminar.  For details click here: September 22 Seminar.

We added another segment on Powers of Attorney to our seminar.

A Power of Attorney is an essential part of any plan related to protecting seniors.

The grant of broad powers to the right person can be a lifesaver.

The grant of any power to the wrong person can be tragic.

In addition to the other seminar segments Attorney Richard Land will be making a short presentation on Connecticut’s new wer of Attorney law which is effective October 1.

To register, call us at 203-744-1929 (make certain you give us your email address) or email us at

You also can register by clicking here: REGISTER.

Location: Ethan Allen Hotel (21 Lake Avenue Extension, Danbury, CT) on September 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30).

We look forward to seeing you on September 22.

Posted 2/11/2016 by Richard S. Land, Member, Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC, 39 Old Ridgebury Road, Suite D-2, Danbury, CT 06810.

P.S.  See below for brief descriptions of the rest of the program:

Alyson Marcucio presents: What Seniors Need to Know about Long-Term Care but Would Never Think to Consider (a/k/a traps for the unwary) regarding Medicaid and planning for long-term care.

Christopher J. Gawley presents: FINRA Rules Designed to Protect Seniors: Warning signs of elder abuse; best practices for financial professionals when serving aging clients; the special responsibility of financial institutions and professionals when encountering seniors with signs of diminished capacity.

Timothy H. Herring presents: Legal Remedies for Financial Elder Abuse Victims (A Case Study):  What can litigators do when asked to make things right after something has gone wrong?

No admission charge.

Our seminars are always strictly educational and well attended.  Space is limited so please let us know if you plan to attend.

Light snacks, desserts and beverages (even wine and cheese) will be offered.

Please join us at the Ethan Allen Hotel (21 Lake Avenue Extension, Danbury, CT) on September 22, 2016, at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30).

Estate Settlement and Trust Administration Seminar

August 6, 2015

LocationEthan Allen Hotel, 21 Lake Ave Ext, Danbury, CT 06811

Date:  September 24, 2015

Time:  7:00 to 9:00 (Doors open at 6:30)

Register here:  Seminar Registration.  Or, call 203-744-1929 for reservations.  For more contact information, go to the end of this post.

No admission charge.  Our seminars are always strictly educational.


We will cover the topics listed below.  Each listed Part corresponds to a Part in our Estate Settlement and Trust Administration video which you can see on YouTube here:  Estate Settlement and Trust Administration Video.

To get the most out of the seminar, attendees should view the whole video before attending.  We understand that time may not permit that, however, and we are structuring the program to make certain it will be well worth your time even if you do not view the video.

Send Us Your Questions

If you think of a question before the seminar, let us know right away before you forget.  If the question is appropriate for a group educational program, we will try to answer it during the program.  Send your questions here: (Richard S. Land) or here (Kasey S. Galner).

 Seminar Topics

Part 1:  Introduction.  Estate settlement steps starting with the probate application and the inventory.

Part 2: A continuation of estate settlement steps including problems relating to real estate, tangible personal property and estate and income taxes.  The importance of identifying problems early.  A description of our estate settlement letter and estate settlement checklists.  A discussion of the importance of post mortem tax planning.

Part 3:  Accounting requirements and fees and costs including the fees of the Probate Court, Executor fees and attorneys.

Part 4:  A description of trust administration, the duties of a trustee and the related risks.

Part 5:  The most common problems related to being a trustee including accounting, investing and self-dealing.

Part 6:  A continuation of a description of the Trustee’s most common problems including personal liability for contracts entered into as trustee and claims based on a trustee’s negligence and torts including claims related to contaminated property.  Trustee compensation is also discussed.


The seminar will be on September 24, 2015, at the Ethan Allen Hotel, 21 Lake Ave Ext, Danbury, CT 06811 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The doors will open at 6:30. Refreshments will be served.

These seminars are always well attended and space is limited. If you wish to attend, or if others you know are interested in attending, to reserve space call us (203-744-1929) or send an e-mail message to me (Richard Land at or Kasey Galner (at or Deb Jewell (at containing your name, number attending, telephone number and e-mail address.

You may also register here: Seminar Registration.

 Posted on 8/6/2015 by Richard S. Land, Member, Chipman, Mazzucco, Land & Pennarola, LLC.

We frequently post articles relating to estate planning, estate settlement and elder law issues to this blog. We also post notices about our client seminars here. When we do, we send out notices to clients and friends of the firm. If you would like to get our notices, please join our mailing list by clicking below.

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List iconJoin Email List
For Email Marketing you can trust

Probate Court Fees Increased

August 1, 2015

Effective July 1, 2015, Connecticut Probate Court fees have been increased.

As the chart below indicates, fees for a decedent’s estate with a value of $2,000,000 or less are unchanged. Fees for an estate with a value more than $2,000,000 are increased significantly without any cap. The fee that applies to the excess over $2,000,000 is 0.5% up from 0.025%.

Before the increase, the fee was capped at $12,500 (the fee that applied to an estate with a value of $4,754,000). If the estate was larger than $4,754,000, the fee would remain at $12,500. Accordingly, under the old fee schedule, the fee for an estate having a value of $50,000,000 would be $12,500. Under the new fee schedule, the fee for an estate having a value of $50,000,000 would be increased to $245,615.

In general, the value of the estate is the value determined for estate tax purposes with some adjustments for property that passes to a spouse (in that case only one-half is included).

Probate Court Fees3

For more information, see our video entitled Estate Settlement and Trust Administration in Connecticut: Estate Settlement in Connecticut Playlist.

Probate Court fees are discussed in Part 3 of the video: Estate Settlement in Connecticut Part 3.

185775_1745456110853_1072275011_31952001_6630745_n[1]Posted on August 1, 2015
by Richard S. Land
Chipman Mazzucco

%d bloggers like this: