What Happens If A Trustee Just Doesn’t Communicate?

Whom you choose to serve in any significant role in your estate or trust administration is very important because this person must communicate clearly with your beneficiaries.

When creating a trust and appointing a trustee, you expect that they will live up to their responsibilities and maintain regular communication with beneficiaries. Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges many beneficiaries report is a trustee who doesn’t communicate with them.

This can include refusing to talk about a sale of assets, such as stocks or real property, refusing to inform a beneficiary about the assets of the trust, or when assets can be distributed. Many people appointed as a trustee of trusts may assume they have broad discretion to do what they want. However, under New Hampshire Probate Code, there are strict requirements.

In many cases, trust documents also have specific instructions about what a trustee must do for a beneficiary, and at the top of that list is usually communication. A trustee still must communicate to keep beneficiaries reasonably informed about all actions the trustee is taking on behalf of the trust. Furthermore, beneficiaries must be informed about distributions from the trust since this is a crucial component of a trust administration process.

Trustees should be prepared to communicate with trust beneficiaries. Those beneficiaries who are not communicated with may be able to file a petition in probate court. If you’re thinking about establishing a trust, think carefully about whom you choose to appoint in the role of trustee.

Our New Hampshire estate planning lawyers know the right questions to ask to help you figure out the best way to move forward with a comprehensive estate plan.



Who Makes for a Good Trustee?

Once you have already done the necessary work with an estate planning lawyer to create a trust, the next important decision to consider is who you will trust to handle your legacy. This is known as appointing the trustee of your trust, and there are several different factors to consider when selecting this person.

The first is their versatility to adapt to the changing tax, financial, legal and business climate because the right fit is usually someone who has the right combination of expertise, personality and comfort.

The second thing to consider when selecting a trustee for your estate is the ability for that person to act in the best interests of the trust based on the terms that you have authored in that trust. In some cases, trustees must balance competing decisions and determine what is in the best interests of the beneficiaries and in line with the terms of the trust.

The final important factor to consider when selecting someone to serve as your trustee is this person’s willingness to take on the liabilities and the responsibilities associated with carrying out your goals. This is especially important if you’re thinking about asking a friend or family member to take on this responsibility.

This person might be close to you and understand some of the underlying estate plan and legacy goals you have, but they may not feel comfortable serving in this role unless you’ve had the opportunity to speak to them about it. This is why it is recommended that you identify an experienced and qualified person who you can also trust to carry out your personal decisions. Set aside time to meet with a lawyer today to discuss your next steps. Our NH and Maine estate planning lawyers are resources for you and your needs.

How Does a Will Help Direct People?

Your will is essential for ensuring that your wishes are honored once you pass away. Without it, the state determines what happens to your property. Think of your will as an instruction document for directing key people.

Most people are familiar with the basic concept of a will. It is used to name not just a guardian for your minor children, but also to name the important people who will serve as your executor or personal representative and what happens to your property. A will, in this way, provides direction to your family members during a tough time. When you leave assets to heirs using a will, you may not recognize how complicated this process can still be.

You need a legally valid and clear will to help direct your personal representative or executor on how to dispose of your property. The will must be clear because the executor or personal representative has a layer of personal liability, meaning they could be accused of malfeasance and pursued via lawsuits.

It is essential to ensure that you provide clear instructions about what they should give and to whom and verify that these instructions do not contradict any other estate planning documents you have.

For example, suppose that you listed what you wanted to happen to retirement account funds in your will. These retirement funds pass outside of your will through the management of the account directly. You must file beneficiary forms with those account managers to ensure they have the proper information to transfer this material. Consult a knowledgeable and qualified estate planning attorney to help you with this process. Our New Hampshire or Maine estate planning lawyers can assist.



Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney After Losing a Spouse

Losing a spouse represents a major change in your life. You might need to work with your estate planning lawyer to update all your documents and ensure that your plan aligns with your needs after losing a spouse.

If you have not previously worked with an estate planning attorney, it is strongly recommended that you identify one as soon as possible if your spouse has recently passed away. There are many different reasons that an estate planning attorney can give you peace of mind and help you to accomplish your individual estate planning goals.

You need to find an attorney who has experience in handling some of the complex situations that may now need adjustment because your partner has passed away. If the majority of your estate plan was to be passed on to your partner, you will need to adjust this to include different loved ones, friends or charitable organizations.

Likewise, you may now be dealing with different financial assets if your spouse passed away and left the majority of everything they owned to you.

There are several different circumstances when it is extremely important to work directly with an estate planning attorney, including:

  • Your estate has many different complicated assets inside.
  • Your spouse was the one who primarily handled the finances and estate planning in the past.
  • You believe that your estate may owe either state or federal estate taxes at the time that you pass away.
  • You are concerned about your loved ones, especially adult children arguing over assets in your estate plan.

All of these reasons should prompt you to communicate with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in NH about the best way to accomplish your individual goals.


Do I Really Need a Last Will and Testament Lawyer in NH?

Do you have specific instructions you’d like to leave behind about what will happen to your belongings if something happens to you? Do you have minor children and want to name a person who will step in as their guardian if you pass away?

All of these specific issues can be addressed using a New Hampshire last will and testament. When you consult with an experienced New Hampshire last will and testament attorney, you will learn more about how to structure this document to decrease the possibility of future will challenges and to ensure that your property is transferred in as streamlined fashion as possible.

You may clarify that your property goes to your spouse or your children or that a portion of your estate is left to charity. Depending on the kinds of assets that you own and what you intend to accomplish with your estate planning a last will and testament can be fairly straightforward. However, if you have many different kinds of assets or specific wishes about how those assets are transferred, it can be much more complicated. You want to do everything possible to minimize the frustration with the probate process in New Hampshire, which can be done by working directly with a last will and testament attorney in New Hampshire.

There are various pitfalls that can occur when using a handwritten or DIY will and it can also make things much more difficult for your family members if you have no wills in place. This is why it is recommended that you work with an attorney who is experienced with last wills and testaments in New Hampshire to ensure that all of your specific wishes have been recorded appropriately.


What Does Trust Administration Mean?

If you create a trust for the purposes of estate planning, it is equally important to valuate who you intend to appoint as trustee. The trustee is responsible for administering the trust after you pass away. One of the leading reasons for many people to choose to use a trust is because probate is time consuming, public and expensive. Living trusts are another tool to help you maintain privacy and avoid probate.

Legal procedures associated with trust administration, however, still must be followed. In some cases, a probate lawyer or even an accountant may be involved. When the creator of a trust dies, the trustee of that trust has several responsibilities that must be dealt with immediately. The first of these is to review the actual terms of the trust and then provide notices if a pour over will indicates that any assets belonging to the deceased should be moved into the trust. This has to be filed within probate court promptly.

Finally, any beneficiary under the trust who is not also a trustee should likely receive specific notice about the trust’s existence. Notice should also be sent to the IRS about who will be handling tax matters on behalf of the decedent. In many cases, it may be helpful to choose a trustee who has served in this role before or someone who is capable of getting help from an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.

Trust administration is important, and this individual has a legal responsibility known as fiduciary duty to handle these issues in a timely fashion. If you need help determining how to assign trust responsibility, contact a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in NH.



Chronic Health Conditions Could Affect Retirement Savings and Estate

A new study finds that later born generations of older adults in the United States are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions when compared with previous generations. This has important implications for the possibility of long term care planning. Long term care planning refers to the strategies you have in place to protect you if and when you suffer from a disability or medical condition that requires outside support.

Many people turn to friends and family members for immediate support following a disabling event or long-term illness but a stay in a nursing home or other similar facility may be necessary at some point. Many people fail to properly plan for these costs and process, putting them in the difficult position of trying to qualify for Medicaid quickly. The research found that there is an increasing frequency of multiple chronic health conditions, also known as multi morbidity. This is putting an increased financial strain on the wellbeing of older adults as well as federal and medical insurance systems.

This is particularly important given that the number of adults older than age 65 in the United States is projected to grow by more than 50% by the year 2050. If you have not created a long-term care plan, now is the right time to reach out to a qualified and experienced estate planning attorney to protect your interests. There are many different avenues available to you depending on your personal preferences and your financial situation, but taking a proactive planning approach makes it much easier to protect your wealth.

When planning for your own future, find a Maine estate planning lawyer to guide you through the process.


What To Consider Before Placing Assets in a Charitable Remainder Trust

Plenty of people intend to accomplish philanthropic goals through their estate and may consider irrevocable trust tools such as a charitable remainder trust, but it is important to be cautious about how you choose to use this. While it might be the right choice for your goals, you need to carefully balance your own financial needs alongside that, especially when using an irrevocable trust for estate planning purposes.

Charitable remainder trusts are usually created while the grantor is still alive. Assets are then transferred into the irrevocable trust providing a tax deduction for the contribution as well as the added benefit of an income stream for life.

At the time the trust grantor passes away, the charity keeps any remaining assets. Be aware though that the irrevocable aspect of these trusts means you should carefully consider working with your financial professional, accountant, lawyer and someone from the charity before signing away your assets.

Even though you may not need these assets at this point in time, you could experience changes in your life, or beneficiaries who did not need support before suddenly require financial assistance. Placing assets into an irrevocable trust, especially a charitable remainder trust, makes those assets illiquid and inaccessible in the event of a sudden change in financial circumstances. There are many different options available to you when it comes to estate planning for charitable purposes.

Make sure you consult with an attorney who is familiar with this area of the law. A lawyer in Maine or NH can walk you through which tools make the most sense for your personal situation.


What Is the Difference Between A Third Party And First Party Special Needs Trust?

Planning ahead for the future of a child with special needs requires advanced considerations. Outright gifts of money could accidentally bar your loved one from getting crucial government benefits through Medicaid and other programs.

This means that sheltering assets in what is known as a special needs trust may be the only opportunity to provide financial support during your life and after you pass away. There are two major types of special needs trusts to be considered: a first party and a third party trust. A first party trust is created with the individual’s own assets to protect inherited or earned income so that they do not accidentally exceed Medicaid in asset and income limits.

Any distributions from a first party special needs trust have to be approved by the trustee of that trust. A third party trust is usually funded with the parents’ assets solely for the purposes of caring for that child, but that it will never be in the child’s name. When the parents pass away, the funds inside the trust go to someone other than the child, and these are frequently funded via assets from the parents’ estate or insurance.

These first party trusts can be set up without funds at first but must have its own tax return and tax ID number. The primary purposes of funds inside a first party special needs trust are to cover those expenses beyond what SSI and Medicaid can pay for, such as computers, clothes and more. For more information on leveraging special needs trusts, schedule a consultation with an estate lawyer in Maine and New Hampshire to discuss your situation.


Are Assets Moved To A Revocable Trust Protected From Creditors?

There are many different myths out there about how trusts can be used in the estate planning process, and it is very important to educate yourself as well as to work with a qualified estate planning attorney. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney can tell you a lot more about how this process works and how best to use a revocable trust as part of your estate plan.

It is also important to identify whether or not a revocable trust is the right tool for your estate planning goals and this can only be accomplished by communicating directly with an experienced and dedicated attorney. A lawyer can tell you more about how best to use a revocable living trust and can assist you with determining your next steps in these situations. If you transfer your assets to a revocable trust, you still maintain control over those assets.

This means that assets inside a revocable trust typically receive no protection from creditors. There are, however, certain kinds of irrevocable trusts that can be created under the laws in specific states that do provide protection from creditors. But even these asset protection trusts may not protect the assets from creditors whose claims exist or come about before the creation of the asset protection trust. Since this is a very specialized area of the law, you should work directly with a qualified and experienced attorney to help you with this process.

A New Hampshire or Maine estate planning lawyer familiar with trusts can assist you with your own personal strategy so that you can make informed decisions about your future.