Why Is A Living Trust An Important Part Of Your Financial Planning?

After you pass away, you may still want to have some level of control over your finances so that you know that your family is protected as well as financially stable. A leading estate planning document for accomplishing this goal is a living trust. There are many different benefits of using a living trust, but the first is that it allows a great deal of flexibility and control.

In a revocable living trust, you can also appoint yourself as the primary trustee while you’re still alive. This means you can make changes to or revoke the trust entirely, a level of flexibility that is not afforded with an irrevocable living trust. A revocable living trust also allows you to appoint someone else after you have passed away to handle the responsibility of administering these assets. Some of the other benefits of using a living trust include:

  • Appointing someone responsible to manage your property, assets and money.
  • Avoiding the probate process and keeping these matters private.
  • Allowing this property to transfer more quickly so that your family has the ability to pay for critical expenses, like outstanding debts, mortgage payments and medical expenses.

You always want to know when selecting any estate planning tool that it’s the right one for your needs.

For more information about how to use a living trust and how to get started with creating one today, contact an estate planning lawyer for more details. Our NH and Maine estate planners can walk you through what to know when thinking about using a living trust.



It’s Time To Spring Clean Your Estate Plan

As you clear out closets and look to make donations to make way for summer, don’t forget about the important consideration of reviewing and updating your estate plan. An estate plan only functions properly when it is reviewed on a regular basis. A major life event could be a reason to stop and review your estate plan, such as a marriage, divorce or birth of a child or grandchild.

However, every five years you should also take a look at your estate plan to make sure that it has incorporated other changes in your life. If you don’t have an estate plan created, it is crucial to consider the benefits of creating a basic last will and testament. Far too often family members realize the consequences of failing to have a last will and testament after a loved one has passed away, and an executor or personal representative must be appointed to deal with this fallout. This can be a confusing and unnecessarily frustrating experience because your estate will be distributed as aligned with specific state laws.

When is the last time you made sure that your New Hampshire or Maine estate plan aligned perfectly with your goals? If life circumstances have changed you need the support of a lawyer to help you adjust your plan.

This leaves no room for personalization and is easily avoidable by having an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer create a simple will and testament for you in advance. Make sure you’ve documented your wishes and protected your loved ones by consulting with an estate planning attorney in NH.



Women Must Plan Ahead for Their Financial Future and Life Insurance May Be the Option

A 2021 Insurance Barometer survey found that 43% of women felt they would leave their families with a difficult financial situation if they passed away unexpectedly. This number was five full percentage points more than the answers given by men in the same survey.

Women face earning power challenges that make it more important for them to look ahead into their future to plan for retirement and also need to generate additional liquidity in the event that they pass away. Women only earn 82.3% compared to their male counterparts despite the fact that they make up the majority of the workforce.

Women are also often responsible for elderly caregiving and a woman may be responsible for supporting herself, a spouse, aging parents and her own children. Women also have longer life spans to plan for because the difference between life expectancy in men and women in 2020 is 5.7 years. Women are caring for more people, living longer and earning less.

Planning ahead for a future as part of a couple or even as a widow is crucial for giving you peace of mind that you’ve done everything possible to cover your financial bases. With so many different questions to answer in the process of deciding your next steps, it can be helpful to work with an outside professional to determine what is most appropriate for you and your needs.

Appropriate risk mitigation strategies and estate planning tools are necessary to help cover some of these challenges. Set aside a time to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer if you are concerned about planning for your own financial future and providing for your heirs.



It’s Time to Stop Stalling and Create Your Estate Plan

If you want to protect your heirs from going through the difficult situation of trying to sort through all of your papers, belongings and debts, you can do them a big favor by undertaking estate planning. Estate planning is not necessarily a comfortable topic, but it is one that can save your heirs a lot of frustration in the future when you take the time to get organized now. Most people recognize the overwhelm and confusion of estate planning because they have been through it with a friend or family member.

Depending on how organized the deceased person was, it can take months or even years to collect all of their assets, much less move them through the probate process to transfer the ownership to intended beneficiaries or those who are entitled through intestate succession.

By spending a little bit of time working with an estate planning lawyer, you can create a basic estate plan that helps you to know what will happen to your assets and any dependents if you pass away suddenly. Working with a lawyer is strongly recommended because you can help to avoid many mistakes and customize your estate plan based on your personal goals.

Are you ready to take your next step? Do not hesitate to consult with an attorney now as your estate plan can become the cornerstone of your future planning both for potential future disability and end of life care. We work with clients in New Hampshire and Maine to help you plan ahead for your best future.


Three Different Approaches to Value Unique Assets

When someone passes away, items in their estate might need to be valued for the purposes of estate taxes or so that an executor can determine fair market value for liquidating them.

If you have a unique collection or other assets inside your estate that may be difficult to value at the time you pass away, it’s important to do some advanced planning and potentially work with an experienced lawyer to come up with a process that will assist with this.

Recent news stories have highlighted some of the challenges of assets inside the estates of Prince and Michael Jackson. There are three different kinds of approaches that can be used to value unique assets. These are known as market, income and cost approaches. The market approach looks at an asset by comparing it to the prices at which other related or similar assets have changed hands close in time to the date of death of the deceased.

The income approach values the asset by calculating how much potential revenue it could produce in the future and then discounting that revenue back to current value. Finally, the cost approach values an asset by computing the cost of what it would be to recreate it. These different valuation approaches can all have significant impacts on end values for assets.

This value calculation means that it is very important to engage the services of an experienced appraiser and to include as many documentation details as possible when leaving these assets behind to your loved ones. For more information about advanced estate planning techniques, schedule a consultation with an attorney in NH today.


What Are Your Odds of Needing Long Term Care in The Future?

Most people hope to live a long and healthy life remaining in their own home until they pass away, but the need for possible long-term care or health care assistance cannot be ignored. Anyone might require assistance as they age due to frailty, loss of eyesight, illness, dementia, or slip and fall injuries like a broken hip. How long this assistance will last and its cost can vary tremendously. You may need total care for many years, or just short-term recovery after a surgery or a fall.

The difficulty of planning is much more complicated than most people anticipate. Assuming that Medicare will pick up the tab for these expenses can be a big mistake, particularly because a stay in a long-term care facility may not be fully covered by Medicare after a certain point in time.

This makes it all the more important to engage the services of an estate planning attorney to discuss elder law issues like these. Having a plan on your own in terms of qualifying for Medicaid can ensure that you use all legal methods at your disposal and greatly increase your chances of recovering compensation.

The support of an experienced attorney can help give you peace of mind that if and when the time comes for you to need long term care, you do not put this financial burden on your loved ones.

Contact a NH or ME estate planning lawyer to discuss next steps with long term care.


How To Gather Key Information Before Creating Your Financial and Estate Plan

Whether this is the first time you’re meeting with an estate planning attorney or you’re setting up your first consultation with a financial planner, there are several important planning steps you can take in advance to make this easier. Having documents and a clear understanding of your current financial picture makes it simpler to tell the story of where you’re at and where you hope to go.

Any questionnaires that have been provided to you by your estate planning lawyer or financial adviser in advance can give you a good overview of the kinds of things they will ask and the issues most important during this meeting. Some of the most important documents you can gather prior to attending your first meeting with a NH or Maine estate planning lawyer include:

  • Information on your employee benefits
  • Any existing estate planning documents
  • Any existing insurance policies
  • General details about your expenses and income
  • Statements for savings and investment accounts
  • Social Security benefits or pension if you are in retirement or near it
  • Debt statements, such as your mortgage

You can combine this with your personal goals to create a comprehensive estate plan in line with your individual needs. A consultation with a dedicated lawyer can give you a good overview of what you’ve completed already and can help you to craft remaining documents and strategies to align with your personal goals. There is so much to consider in the big picture of estate planning that it is recommended that you start well in advance and get the help of a lawyer.


Creating A Memorandum for NFTs And Cryptocurrencies in Your Will

When you are adding NFTs or cryptocurrencies to your estate planning, security is a very unique challenge. As your will gets admitted to probate, this means it becomes a part of the public record where you live.

You do not want to include significant details about crypto currency and other digital assets because this could create a security issue. A memorandum that goes with your will should be included along with your other estate planning documents.

This means that you do not need to list anything sensitive in the will directly because a memorandum is a separate document that is referenced within your will but is not filed with the official paperwork. Your memorandum should provide important details to your chosen beneficiaries, including:

  • The current type of digital wallets you own
  • Any devices like smartphones or computers on which you’ve stored your cryptocurrency
  • Website links required for anyone to access those details
  • Password and login information for every account, website and digital wallet

Your memorandum can be stored on a safe location with other estate planning tools, such as your power of attorney. It is very important that the executor of your estate be able to find this information quickly after you have passed away because it will be essential to protect these assets. To learn more about including crypto currency and other digital assets inside your estate plan, set aside a time to speak with an experienced lawyer.

Although cryptocurrency estate planning is fairly new, it’s helpful to have a lawyer on your side to guide you through the process.



Should I Put Real Estate into A Living Trust?

Many people have questions about both the creation of a living trust and the kinds of assets that should be placed inside it. One key question you might wish to ask your estate planning lawyer is, should I put real estate inside my living trust.

There is a good chance that your primary home is one of your biggest assets, which can be beneficial from the perspective of creating a living trust since you can transfer real estate quickly. This is in fact a leading reason to create a living trust in the first place because you are concerned about the time consuming and expensive process of probate and want to allow your loved ones to avoid it.

Putting real estate into a living trust avoids the problems associated with separating probate proceedings for commercial properties, homes and land that are held in different counties or out of state. Remember that in the event that there is a mortgage on the piece of property, this would require refinancing into the name of the trust and not all lenders are open to doing this.

Living trusts are great estate planning tools for plenty of people, but they are not always the right fit. Discuss your options with an attorney to ensure you select the right planning tool for your needs.

Schedule a consultation with your estate planning lawyer to discuss the different kinds of real estate you own and whether or not it makes sense to place it inside a trust. Call a NH estate planning lawyer for further help.



Should I Name a Trust as a Retirement Account Beneficiary?

When designating retirement account beneficiaries, it is important to think about your individual estate planning goals. There are disadvantages and advantages to naming a trust as a beneficiary of a retirement account. You can avoid probate, expenses and frustration when naming beneficiaries for qualified retirement plans as these assets pass outside of your probate estate.

Naming a trust as a beneficiary of your retirement plan is most helpful if your beneficiaries cannot be trusted with a significant amount of money, currently have a disability for which they receive government benefits or if those beneficiaries are minors. However, the major disadvantage of naming a trust as a beneficiary is that the assets inside the retirement plan are subject to required minimum distribution payouts based entirely on the oldest beneficiary’s life expectancy. This is not as important if you only have one beneficiary on the trust but if there are multiple heirs with various ages, this can cause significant problems.

Naming individual beneficiaries, however, will allow each of those beneficiaries to take a required minimum distribution based on their individual life expectancy. For more information about estate planning for your IRA and other retirement accounts, set aside a time to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer in NH.

Learn more about how to create and use trusts within your estate plan by setting up an initial consultation with our law office. We’ll learn more about you, your family, and any other special interests like a business. We’ll use that information to create a comprehensive estate plan for you.