Connecticut: Every Legal, Medical, and Estate Planning Document You Need

Here's a complete guide to every critical medical, legal, and estate planning document and relevant state law in Connecticut. Download these forms and get started with Pillar to organize all of your most important documents in one safe, secure, easy-to-use online storage solution

February 2, 2021

Connecticut is known for its beauty, charm, and high standard of living. Positioned in the heart of America’s business corridor, “Nutmeggers” enjoy easy access to a bustling economy, an active nightlife, historic destinations, and beautiful natural scenery. Living in Connecticut also means abiding by its sometimes complex tax laws.

Here is everything you need to navigate Connecticut’s tax, legal, medical, and estate planning rules and requirements so you’re prepared for life in the Constitution State.

Essential Connecticut Medical Laws & Forms

How Long Do Doctors Keep Medical Records in Connecticut?

Connecticut physicians are required to maintain most patient medical records for at least seven years.

  • Lab reports must be kept for five years or more if they are abnormal
  • X-rays must be kept for three years

Patients also have the right to see their medical records, and request copies (for a copying fee, in most cases) in Connecticut.

Learn more about what should be included in your medical records.

Connecticut Advanced Directive "Living Will" Forms

A living will — often called a "medical will" or advanced directive — is an important legal document that clarifies your choices for end-of-life medical treatment for family and loved ones. This document essentially outlines your preferred action and treatment for the following scenarios if you're not able to speak on your own behalf:

  • Specific medical procedures or medications you do (or don't) want
  • Your wishes regarding life-prolonging treatments and procedures if you can’t talk to the doctors yourself
  • Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) and intubation wishes
  • Organ and tissue donation
  • Any other specific disease or condition preferences

Living wills also appoint a health carerRepresentative (like your spouse, partner, family member, or friend) to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

Read more about advance directives in Connecticut and download this documents to set up your living will in Connecticut:

  • Living Will (Advanced Directive) Combined Form - This includes forms to appoint a health care representative, living will, appointment of conservator and organ donation in one form, although you do not have to complete any section you don’t want to.

Connecticut Organ Donor Registry

You can become an organ, cornea, or tissue donor at the Donate Life Connecticut website or the DMV.

Connecticut Legal & Estate Planning Documents & Forms

How to Write a Will in Connecticut

When a Connecticuter dies without a will, their surviving spouse will inherit the first $100,000 of the estate, plus half the balance, while their children will inherit the rest. Depending on whether there are children, other family members, and any number of other factors, it can get complicated and messy. Many people in Connecticut create wills so that they can decide how they’d like their assets to be distributed, rather than leaving it up to the Probate Court. 

For a will to be valid in Connecticut:

  • The testator (the person whose will it is) must be 18 years old and of sound mind.
  • It must be typed. Handwritten or oral wills will not be recognized.
  • The testator must sign the will, in the presence of two witnesses.

Note that bequests left to witnesses will be void, and the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the estate, even if excluded from the will.

How to Set Up a Trust in Connecticut

On January 1, 2020, the Connecticut Uniform Trust Code became law. This code modernized trust law in Connecticut and allows for far greater customization and flexibility in trust creation. There are also some other decided advantages, such as tax benefits and the ability to shield the trust’s assets from creditors. There's a lot to unpack, but you can explore the new Connecticut trust and estate tax form laws here.

Read more about the difference between a will and a trust

Connecticut Probate Laws

When a Connecticuter who owns property passes away, the Probate Court will oversee the division of assets. If the deceased has written out a will, the assets will usually be divided as described within it (assuming it is valid and uncontested). If no will exists, Connecticut Probate Court will first ensure that any outstanding debts, funeral expenses, and taxes are paid, and then distribute the remaining assets.

There are numerous probate forms available on the Probate Court’s website.

How to get a Death Certificate in Connecticut

Anyone older than 18 may purchase a certified copy of a Connecticut death certificate. However, the social security number will not be included. If you need a copy that lists the social security number, you will need to provide proof of identity and relationship. The surviving spouse, child, or parent of a veteran is entitled to one free certified copy with proper identification. 

Death certificates can be ordered online through VitalChek. (Additional fees may apply.)

You may request a death certificate through the town of death or through the state by sending the appropriate application and fee. The request should be submitted through the town if it has been less than four months since the death.

Town:

Each of the 169 towns in Connecticut has a vital records registrar

State:

Connecticut Department of Public Health
Vital Records Section
Customer Services, MS # 11 VRS
Hartford, CT 06134-0308

Connecticut Digital Estate Planning Laws

In 2016, Connecticut joined a handful of other states in enacting legislation authorizing the executor of your estate or appointed fiduciary to access and control digital accounts and assets. This authority is also granted to your agent under a Power of Attorney if you become incapacitated.

Power of Attorney in Connecticut

Power of attorney documents grant authority to certain persons to make financial decisions and act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. In 2016, Connecticut passed the Uniform Power of Attorney Act, so power of attorney documents signed in other states are generally recognized in Connecticut, as long as they are signed, dated, witnessed by two people and, ideally, notarized.

Connecticut’s short form Power of Attorney is much more commonly used, but doesn’t provide for any authority over estate planning. For estate planning, use the long form power of attorney. The long form is much more complex and legal guidance is strongly recommended when using it.

Note that Connecticut law does NOT automatically revoke an old power of attorney when you sign a new one, and it is possible to have multiple agents – which can cause problems in certain situations. Complete this form to revoke power of attorney privileges from someone.

If you don’t have a Power of Attorney in place and should become incapacitated, for example in an accident, your family will need to petition the probate court to appoint a Conservator of the Estate for you.

Connecticut Estate, Inheritance & Gift Taxes

When a person passes away, Connecticut may take a percentage of the estate before it is passed on to heirs. Sometimes called a “death tax”, the estate tax in Connecticut ranges from 7.8% to 12%, depending on the value of the entire taxable estate. Estates under $5.1 million are exempt. This exclusion amount is slated to increase each year until 2023, at which point it will top out at $11.58 billion. 

Connecticut’s estate tax is in addition to the federal tax on estates valued over $11.18 million (or $22.36 million for couples who follow the proper legal steps). Estate taxes can be paid to the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services on their website.

Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is different from estate tax in that it is levied after the funds have passed to the heir, rather than beforehand. There is no inheritance tax in Connecticut.

Gift Tax

Connecticut is the only state in the U.S. that has a gift tax. Your first $11.18 million in gifts throughout your lifetime are exempted. 

Taxable gifts can include cash or checks, property, interest-free loan, or even selling something below its fair market value. For example, selling a property valued at $500,000 for $300,000 would constitute a $200,000 gift. Gifts over $10,000 must be filed to avoid penalties. 

How to Get Birth, Marriage, or Adoption Certificates in Connecticut

To request birth, death, marriage, adoption, paternity, gender change or other vital records, contact the Connecticut State Department of Public Health's Vital Records Office.

Birth, death, and marriage certificates:  (860) 509-7700
Paternity-related questions: (860) 509-7958
Vital Records Fax: (860) 509-7964

Learn more about what legally changes when you get married

How to Store Your Most Important Documents

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