Using Both a Will and a Trust in Your Estate: When it Makes Sense

It is a common misconception that you only need a will or a trust for estate planning purposes. Only by working with an estate planning attorney can you understand how both of these tools can help you accomplish estate planning goals and when it is most appropriate to have

If you already have a trust, it’s a common myth that you don’t also need a will. In a perfect world having your trust may be sufficient if you don’t have any minor children, but without a will you have no ability to name a guardian for your minor children. Furthermore, a trust is only effective when it is created and funded properly.

Simply establishing the trust itself does not fund it. You must transfer assets from your individual ownership name into the ownership of the trust so that it can be accurately said that the trust controls those assets’ dispositions. Sometimes the timing may lapse or you forget to transfer assets, which means that your trust is not accomplishing individual goals.

This means that if you fail to retitle the property into the trust, the trust cannot dictate the distribution of that asset. This means your asset may instead go through probate, and if you don’t have a will, the state determines what happens to that asset based on intestate succession rules.

This may not be in line with what you intended for your own estate planning purposes. It’s far better to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss many of your concerns around the estate planning process and to decide on your next steps.


Which Of My Expenses Are Associated With My Estate?

Settling an estate can be a complex process, which is why it is so important to discuss who will serve as your executor well in advance. This person should be prepared to handle these different tasks and be aware of the fiduciary responsibility they hold to your estate and your beneficiaries.

Expenses of an estate must be identified and properly paid out along with any other probate related debts before distributions can be made to beneficiaries. Multiple different costs apply when someone passes away and the estate must be settled. The primary expenses of most estates include;

Fees, such as hiring an accountant or estate planning attorney, as well as fees for the personal representative or executor which may be set by the state. Certain NH rules determine the order in which your expenses are paid out. With insolvent estates, this means that those at the bottom of the priority list may not be paid at all. Here are some examples of common items paid out with priority:

  • Taxes, such as income tax, inheritance tax or estate tax.
  • Outstanding debts.
  • Property distribution and maintenance.
  • Final expenses, such as cremation or funeral costs.

The estate may also pay for things, such as appraisals necessary to determine the estate asset value, closing costs connected to the value of a home, credit cards, liens, medical or medical bills or incidental costs, such as mileage reimbursements and recording fees. Make sure that you have considered all potential expenses that could limit the value of your overall estate if you are intending for certain loved ones to receive assets from your estate. Speak with a qualified estate planning attorney in NH to learn more.




Two Important Questions to Consider When Creating a Trust

A trust is one of the most valuable and increasingly popular estate planning tools to use a trust appropriately. It is recommended that you work with a qualified estate planning lawyer to ensure that the trust is legal, properly funded and aligned with your estate planning goals. Two primary questions will guide much of your conversation with your estate planning attorney. The first of these is who will serve as the trustee as the creator of the

You will choose the corporate entity or individual who manages the trust assets and is responsible for carrying out the purpose of the trust. Most people default to choosing a loved one, but this person may not have the experience or knowledge to manage trustee responsibilities. You could also elect a professional fiduciary such as a trust company or a bank. Remember that they will often have account minimums and charge for the services they render.

The second important question to consider as you create a trust with your estate planning lawyer is when are distributions made As the grantor, you have significant control over how assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries you name. Many people turn to common messes such as allowing distributions at particular ages or when someone has achieved a particular milestone.

Remember that it will again fall to the responsibility of the appointed trustee to make these distributions. This should be someone that you are familiar with and someone who you are comfortable with. Handle these responsibilities fairly. Make sure that you contact a qualified and dedicated attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. A knowledgeable attorney in NH can make a big difference in helping you to choose the right type of trust.




Do I Need a Power of Attorney If My Spouse Is Showing Signs of Mental Decline?

Showing early signs of dementia or other cognitive issues might prompt you to schedule a consultation with an estate planning lawyer. Many people get advised at this stage in time to create a financial power of

If these medical issues are happening to your spouse, however, you may be wondering if this is necessary. One of the most important things to remember is if a loved one is showing signs of mental decline, is that you should not hesitate to create these documents. This is because the person executing them, such as your spouse, needs to be able to understand what a power of attorney document is and what it does.

You might also need an additional tool known as a power of attorney for health care. Even if you were using your joint accounts to pay the bills needed during the time that your spouse becomes incapacitated, a power of attorney document is invaluable if you needed to take action on property that is jointly held.

This can include making decisions like refinancing your mortgage. It can be very expensive to have to go to court to try to get guardianship or to be approved to make these decisions otherwise, so it is strongly recommended that you have a power of attorney established well in advance.

Get a NH power of attorney created early on so that you have peace of mind that you can care for this person’s needs if and when the time comes.

Reach out to our NH estate planning office today to get more support with your planning.



Recognizing Your Residuary Estate

What happens if you don’t plan for everything in your estate?estate

A will is the most popular estate planning tool because it allows you to determine what happens to your assets and also to name any guardians for your minor children. However, there are some reasons why certain assets may not make it into your will. These become part of what is known as your residuary estate. You may create a residuary estate intentionally or unintentionally in New Hampshire.

For example, you might decide in drafting your will that you wish to name specific items for certain people in your family or friends circle. You may also choose with the help of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney to use a residuary clause determining what happens to any other assets that were not already outlined in the will.

Residual estates can also be created accidentally, such as if you acquired new assets after drafting your will, but did not add any provisions for distributing those assets, forgot to include certain assets in your will, or someone you named in your will passes away before you or is not able to receive their inheritance for any other reason.

Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney in your area is the best way to consider all aspects of your estate plan and what you wish to include intentionally in your documents. Contact our law firm today to set up an initial consultation to talk through what estate planning looks like.



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Have You Planned for The Rising Costs of Health Care?

As you look to the future of your estate plan and retired years, have you considered whether you have room in your budget for a healthcare crisis? While most people hope to live long and healthy lives without a major illness or accident-related problem, it’s smart to think about your possible sources of funding should the worst care

Most people underestimate the possibility of needing long-term care in the future, which is why so many people don’t take out a long-term care insurance policy and can be caught by surprise with a sudden incapacitating event.

Planning for the rising costs of health care is extremely important for your overall financial strategy, and also as part of your potential estate. Health care costs have been rising significantly for decades and typically outgrow inflation, but new research shows that most people struggle to plan in advance when it comes to health care costs. On average, people in America spend 145% more than they anticipated on annual out-of-pocket health care spending.

These costs could be even higher, depending on whether or not you sustain a severe injury or condition that requires months or even years of additional support. It is critical to establish a strategy for planning for your own financial future, and anyone of all ages should also contemplate how long term care planning fits into their estate planning strategy. Working with a talented estate planning or long term care elder law attorney in New Hampshire is recommended.



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What Millennials And Gen Z Need To Know About Estate Planning

Everyone needs estate planning, but plenty of people skip over the importance of creating basic estate planning documents. estate planning

You might think that estate planning doesn’t apply to you because you’re relatively young, but any number of celebrity and news stories can show you just how dangerous it can be to skip an estate plan. It is always shocking to find out when a celebrity who had significant assets didn’t take any proactive steps for creating a good plan for those assets after their death.

A bigger surprise for many young adults is that they may need to do estate planning too, even if they do not yet own substantial wealth or do not have children to pass things on to. Everyone over age 18 needs some basic estate planning documents including financial and health care powers of attorney. These name someone else to step in and make decisions and take actions on your behalf if you are unable to do so because of a disability, illness, or injury.

Many people don’t realize until it’s too late the legal quandary and problems that can emerge when you do not take these positive and proactive steps. The right support of an attorney is instrumental in guiding you through this process of helping you name your financial and health care power of attorney agent. While you hope to never have to activate these individuals to step in to manage your affairs, it is good to know that you have already taken the steps to do so.

If you haven’t yet created a power of attorney, consider this a great starting point for your estate plan. Reach out to a lawyer today to learn more.


How To Avoid Arguments With Siblings When a Parent Passes Away

The loss of a parent has many implications for surviving family members, but it is all too often the case that siblings can end up in the midst of disputes with other siblings. Dividing up the assets of an estate is not always easy, and when people do not agree on the best way to do this or the interpretation of the will, this can lead to extensive and expensive legal actions.parent

As a parent, you can do some proactive planning with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer to avoid these disputes, making sure that your intentions are very clear and providing a streamlined process for passing on these assets. Planning before you pass away can help to address the possibility of these challenges and can also reduce the time and money spent resolving them if there is confusion.

You can give directions for what you intend to happen by spelling things out in your will. If you intend to disinherit someone from your will, for example, or give someone a disproportionate amount, it may be beneficial to have these conversations in advance so that they are not caught off guard and frustrated enough to file a will dispute or other conflict. You can also use a trust to ensure that your property disposition plans are clearly spelled out.

A revocable trust, for example, can be used to make any changes up until the point of your death. Putting property in the joint name of a parent and a child so that the asset passes automatically is another option, but may not be the best one depending on whether or not you are able to use a trust. Set aside a time to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer to discuss the specifics of your situation.



Your Stage Of Life Connects To Your Estate Planning Goals

What’s most important to you in this stage of life? That may change over time, and your estate and financial goals should change with it. What you need when you go off to or graduate from college is probably different from when you buy your first home or prepare for retirement, and it’s important to remember to update your estate plan as you go.

At each stage of your life and age you reach, it is important to think about the choices you make that give you greater security and control. Your estate plan is a strategy that aligns with you as needed.

As your life moves forward, you can work with a qualified and knowledgeable estate planning attorney to help you adapt your plan. When you are young before you have children, it is important to establish a power of attorney to make sure someone else is available to make decisions on your behalf and take actions for you.

Once you have children, establishing a life insurance policy and protection for your income and assets is important as well as naming a guardian for that minor child. At the next stage of life, you may find yourself caring for both children and aging parents at the same time. And as you get closer to retirement, you want to ensure that your beneficiaries and other estate planning documents are all in line with what you hoped to achieve.

Along the way, a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in NH can help you to draft and update these documents to ensure they align with your individual needs. Set aside a time to talk about how your current estate plan accomplishes your goals or needs to be adapted.



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When To Impose Conditions On Your Estate Plan?

No matter how you approach the process of estate planning, you may have natural concerns about someone’s ability or willingness to properly manage an asset. Being overly burdensome with the conditions placed on your estate plan, however, can be problematic for those who inherit from you. estate plan

Striking a balance can help give you some level of control and peace of mind during your life, but also enable your beneficiaries to receive these assets in a meaningful and usable way. One of the most important ways to impose conditions and control is to establish a trustee or an executor.

Nominating the individuals who serve in these crucial roles is important. If you do appoint a child, you may place certain conditions on doing so, such as ensuring that they reach a certain age before they are able to assume the role. Many people establishing a will and other estate planning documents want to create rules around what purposes a beneficiary can use an asset for. However, it is usually better to set up a trust in this situation to ensure that the beneficiary receives the assets when you intend for them to have it, such as reaching a minimum age such as 25.

You can always determine what is best suited to your loved ones and beneficiaries well in advance, especially when you use a trust in NH.

You may also earmark specific funds for certain purposes, such as paying for a college or graduate education. For more information about imposing conditions on your estate plan and how to do so effectively, consult with the experienced and qualified estate planning attorneys in your area. At our NH and Maine estate planning law offices, we can help you with all aspects of setting up a trust.