Inheritance Expectations: Can They be Challenged Ahead of Time?

Portrait of happy woman who is hoping for good newsBy Carmine Perri  

With Thanksgiving behind us and other holidays quickly approaching, most of us are now in full holiday swing.  Maybe it is simply the time of year where the word “expectation” is bouncing around in my mind.

With these holidays, we must at least consider the notion that expectations are created and that some of us, from children to adults, have some expectation about receiving gifts (from where is a conversation for you to have with your loved ones).

It appears that these expectations are derived, at least in part, from a predetermined date on a calendar; an event, with all its draping, that includes, among other traditions, a ritual of giving and receiving.

Are holiday expectations any different than the expectations of inheritance upon one’s passing?

I cannot recall how many times over the last two to three years I have heard “mom wanted me to have this” or “I was supposed to get this.”

These questions got me thinking.

Is there a manner in which to judicially resolve inheritance disputes before one passes?  The answer is “yes” but not in the State of Connecticut.

In less than a handful of states throughout the country, pre-death Will contests are permitted (if we lived in Arkansas, North Dakota, Ohio, or Alaska we would be having a very different conversation).  A pre-death, or pre-mortem, Will contest is an action wherein a court determines the validity or invalidity of a Will prior to death.

One of the benefits of a pre-death Will contest is that if one realizes the terms of her Will are likely to disappoint a family member, she could petition the probate court to make a determination that would be binding after her death.  Given the substance of this topic, the pros and cons of pre-death Will contests cannot be further explored here.

Let’s return, however, to the beginning of this post and the word expectation.  I submit to you, in this context, that “disappointment” is a sibling to “expectation.”

I wonder whether the holidays and the passing of a family member too often conjures up expectations and disappointments instead of causing us to reflect and be thankful for the time we have with someone special or being thankful for the time we had with someone special.

Connecticut law does not permit us to address, pre-death, one’s testamentary plans. Yet, I wonder, why is it necessary at all?

Related Post:

Challenging a Will in Connecticut – What You Need to Know

How to Leave Money to an Irresponsible Child

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