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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An estate planning book that has some content about Connecticut probate, but for some reason calls itself a "Guide to Probate.", September 1, 2008
This review is from: Julie Jason's Guide to Connecticut Probate: What Every Connecticut Family Needs to Know About Probate (Paperback)
This book was OK. It really should get a 3-star rating. But it is packed full of good information so I cannot bear to kill it with just a 3-star vote. For a couple of years now I have been reading just about everything I can find on the estate settlement process in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. And through my readings I have come to realize that there are no really good publications on estate administration, probating an estate, and/or calculating and paying estate taxes. The chief problem the writers have is they either confuse "estate planning" with "estate adminstration." Or they confuse "estate administration" with "probating an estate." Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the author of the instant book being reviewed has confused all three topics when the book's title declares that the content will focus on "probating an estate."

If the book were to be true to its title, then it would have a Table of Contents that would look something like the following:

I. THE BASICS
1. What is probate?
2. When must an estate be probated?
3. How is probate affected if decedent dies with a will?
4. How is probate affected if decedent dies without a will?
5. Who is an executor?
6. What does an executor do with regard to probate?
7. How does an executor get appointed?
8. What is an executor's fiduciary duty?
9. To what or whom does an executor owe its fidciary duty?
II. THE PROCESS
10. The probate court
11. An overview of the probate court process
12. The specific things an executor must do to get through the probate court process
13. What property is subject to probate?
14. What property is not subject to probate?
15. What are the different property types a decedent could own?
16. The probate process and various tax returns
III. MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS
17. Does the probate court have jurisdiction over real estate in a state other than the probate court's state?
18. The probate process and guardianships of minors
19. The probate process and conservators
20. The probate process and will contests
21. The probate process and problem executors
22. How to find an estates and trusts lawyer
IV. APPENDIX MATERIAL
A1. Text of State Probate Code
A2. The probate court forms or templates available to an executor
A3. Schedule of Probate Court Fees and Costs

Unfortunately, most of these topics are either not discussed or discussed in a cursory manner. And don't expect to see a copy of Connecticut's probate code or the forms you would need when probating an estate.

By definition "Probate" is the mechanism to transfer ownership of property AFTER the owner's death. A book about probate should not be providing estate planning advice which relates to a time BEFORE a property owner's death. With the exception of chapters 1, 4, 6, 9, and 20, the instant book's chapters address estate planning topics. Arguably Chapter 17 might also be relevant to the probate process, but I figure the reader is reading this book so she can avoid paying for legal help.

The book is split between its body (pages 1-142) and its appendix materials (pages 143-379). To me that is quite a lopsided split of pages. Is the book at 142 pages worth its cover price? Do the appendix materials help justify the book's cover price? Does the content in the body of the book address the subject matter of the book well? My answer to all three of these questions is "no." This is especially true for the appendix material since appendices 1B, 1C, 4A, and 12A (the bulk of the appendices that relate to probate) can be downloaded for free off the Internet.

I wish there were another book I could refer you to that covers the probate process well. Unfortunately I am not aware of one. Interestingly enough, the State of Connecticut has a pretty good Web site devoted to the subject and I recommend you find and study its contents if you are interested in the subject matter of the instant book. To find it just Google "probate court of connecticut." 4 stars!

PS. Examine the Search Inside feature Amazon provides for this book to see what the Table of Contents includes. My review may make a little more sense to you if you look at the TOC since I do not list chapter titles or appendix titles in my review.
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Julie Jason's Guide to Connecticut Probate: What Every Connecticut Family Needs to Know About Probate
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