Connecticut has become the most expensive place to die in the U.S.
Probate fees on settling estates — a legal process that determines the authenticity of wills and the administering of a deceased’s assets — have risen, resulting in invoices that could top $100,000 or even $1 million.
“It’s outrageous,” Westport attorney Amy Day told CNBC. “We always had a cap on probate fees of $12,500. Now it’s not going to be unusual for people to pay upward of $50,000.”
One of the big reasons for the shocking increase in fees has been a budget cut at the state legislature that has strangled funding to the probate court system. A previous $12,500 cap on court fees has been eliminated, and fees on estates worth more than $2 million have doubled to 0.5% of the estate’s value.
Lawyers and judges have since remarked on the debilitating result of this decision. Judge Paul Knierim, Connecticut’s probate court administrator, said if the new fees were applied last year, two estates worth more than $200 million apiece would have paid more than $1 million in probate costs and about a dozen worth over $20 million would have paid more than $100,000. Knierim and some state lawmakers are planning to campaign for a reversion to the previous system next year.
“I think the fundamental problem is that the change in decedents’ estate fees imposes the burden of running the probate court system on a very small portion of the population,” Knierim said to CNBC.
State Governor Dannel Malloy put forward a state budget last month that included cuts in education, health care, and social services.