Five Documents Possibly Needed For Your Estate Plan

An estate plan can be as simple as just a will, but it can also include many other documents and strategies designed to help you reach your individual goals. Working with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is extremely important for identifying what does and doesn’t belong in your estate

Furthermore, having an established relationship with an estate planning lawyer makes it easier to reach out, should you decide that additional documents are needed. Leaving out even one tool could significantly impact your transfer plans and your beneficiaries in the future, not to mention even your future plans for yourself in the event that you were to become incapacitated.

Here are five documents you should research, contemplate and discuss with your estate planning lawyer to identify whether or not they belong as part of your strategy. They are:

  • A living trust that reserves assets for your beneficiaries to avoid expenses and delays with court in probate.
  • A healthcare power of attorney to appoint an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.
  • A last will and testament to name a guardian for your minor children and determine what happens to your property.
  • A living will that names someone else to make your healthcare wishes known if you can’t communicate them.
  • A financial power of attorney to handle financial decisions and actions if you’re unable to do so.

Estate planning is for everyone regardless of the perceived size of your estate. Communicating with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer in your area is the first step towards identifying the tools, documents and strategies in line with your personal goals and future intentions.



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.


estate planning

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.


Major Events in Your Life That Can Influence Your Estate Planning Strategy

Your estate may have been created when your life was relatively simple, such as if you created power of attorney documents when you headed off to college. However, you may need to update your estate plan at multiple points throughout your life based on changes in your life, and outside

Estate planning is valuable on a regular basis, even without a specific prompt. That’s because you never know when something can happen and the best time to plan is in advance of any issues.

Estate planning deals with the management, preservation and distribution of your assets due to incapacitation or after you pass away. As your life changes, you may need to update these estate planning strategies because your goals may shift as well. Here are some of the most important life events that call for an update in your estate plan:

  • Getting married
  • Separating or getting a divorce
  • Having children
  • Buying a piece of property since you may wish to invest in life insurance to help pay for the mortgage if something happens to you
  • Substantial changes in your personal wealth
  • An update in your medical condition or a diagnosis of a serious illness or ongoing disability
  • The death of someone who has been named as a decision maker in your own estate planning documents such as a trustee, or a power of attorney agent

All of these circumstances should prompt you to revisit your estate planning lawyer’s office to discuss options. Don’t wait, however, for something big to happen in your life to get you into the office to discuss your personal plan. Even creating a simple plan now makes things easier for your loved ones after you pass away and certainly for you if you become incapacitated.





Have You Planned For The Possibility Of Disability?

If you need to stay in a nursing home, who will pick up the bill? This important and stressful question is not one you want to consider in the wake of a serious medical condition. disability

When you’re scrambling to get your medical care in order and need urgent help, you don’t want to be limited by the financial aspect of getting proper care. But so many Americans overlook the possibility that they might end up in a care facility while they’re still young or otherwise healthy prior to an unexpected disability.

Most people don’t plan to get sick and especially those who are young and in relatively good health now, do not anticipate that a disability or serious illness could derail their overall health. However, it can be a big mistake to overlook the possibilities associated with a disability. If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that illnesses and accidents can happen at any time. Research backs this up as well. One in four 20 year olds will have some type of disability that lasts more than 90 days before they retire.

Planning ahead for the possibility of disability means thinking carefully about how you will support yourself financially during these times, the medical care available to you during your current plans or through a disability insurance policy, and the documents you’ve created to appoint other people to make decisions on your behalf, such as a power of attorney. If you find yourself in the situation of not having any power of attorney created, now is the perfect opportunity to meet with a qualified attorney to help you accomplish this.

A New Hampshire elder law attorney can help you plan ahead to answer some of these difficult questions now.



new hampshire

How Does a Power of Attorney Work in New Hampshire?

Do you have a plan for what happens if you’re incapacitated and not able to speak to your own decisions? If not, you should do this in a power of attorney hampshire

A power of attorney allows the appointed agent to act on behalf of the principal or the creator. The creator of the document determines whether or not the power of attorney is specific or more general in nature. When the agent can show this document to other organizations, they are able to make decisions including choices about the principal’s real property and finances.

The laws in New Hampshire limit the ability of the agent to give gifts including the gifts that the agent might make themselves unless the power of attorney document crafted by the creator specifically awards that power. Furthermore, a durable power of attorney document also allows the agent to make financial decisions even after the principal becomes incapacitated, but the power of attorney document ends when the principal passes away.

If you are interested in creating a power of attorney document, it only becomes effective when signed by the principal or by another person in the principal’s presence and at the principal’s direction, and acknowledged by a notary public.  The agent is also required to sign the POA to acknowledge that they have been appointed as agent and understand their role.

Powers of attorney can grant significant and sweeping powers. The agent typically has access to the principal’s property and finances, meaning that you should select a person you trust to serve in this role. Schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney in New Hampshire today to learn more about your options.


Should I Make My Power of Attorney Agent Joint Owner of My Bank Account?

One of the most common tasks handled by a power of attorney agent is the paying of bills and the writing of checks from a bank account. To do this, you’ll need to have your agent’s name added to your account, which is when you might mistakenly put this person on your account as a joint owner. Adding a name to an account and giving someone joint owner responsibilities with full authority to use the account as their own are two different things and you can find yourself in a financial mess if you’re not careful which one you do.

Adding a name to an account could just mean that the person is authorized under your power of attorney form to manage the account for you. However, if they are a full joint owner, this means they can to use the account on their own. This happens far too often, meaning that that account will immediately become the property of that person when you pass away regardless of what’s stated inside your will. This means:

  • Your agent might get property that might have intended to pass on to him or her.
  • Your property could be vulnerable to the liabilities and creditors belonging to that agent.
  • Your estate administration can be greatly complicated even if the agent eventually understands the mistake and voluntarily distributes the account to beneficiaries.

After you complete your financial power of attorney, you’ll need to take this form to your bank. You want to make it clear when submitting this paperwork that you do not want to add your agent as a joint owner but rather under your power of attorney document. You should have a consultation with a New Hampshire and Maine estate planning attorney to understand all of the complex issues involved in the management of your financial affairs.



What You Need to Know About Adult Children Taking Over Your Finances

Whether you’re caring for an aging parent and have questions about what it means to be their power of attorney or you’re looking to sign a power of attorney to name one of your children as your agent, it’s important to be clear about how a power of attorney works in New Hampshire.

A durable power of attorney makes it possible for someone else, known as your agent, to take on the role of managing your finances. Without this, it might require a trip to court. It’s a good idea to make a power of attorney document now while you don’t need it. Getting guardianship of a loved one because they didn’t make a power of attorney can be very complicated and overwhelming when you’re already nervous about your family member’s medical conditions, so make sure to create this in advance.

Here are some things to think about as you brainstorm who in your family you’d like to take over your finances in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself or are planning an operation or out of country trip that would make it difficult or impossible for you to handle your own affairs:

  • Where do you keep your financial records? Is this in a place where your agent knows to look?
  • Do you have records about your annual income and the sources it comes from?
  • What are the monthly expenses that an agent should be prepared to pay?
  • What are the names of your financial institutions?

If you’re ready to create your first power of attorney, set up a time to work with our NH elder law attorneys today.





When Should I Update My Power of Attorney?

Many of the same events that would prompt you to update your estate planning documents like a will should cause you to reconsider whether or not your power of attorney still makes sense.

This can include recently having gotten married and wanting to designate your spouse as your agent, getting separated or divorced from your current spouse, a child or other family member who is grown in maturity and has shown they want the responsibility of serving in this role or there are updates in your state laws that impact your current POA document.

Another common reason to consider making changes to your power of attorney are problems with your agent. A person you appointed months or years ago might not be the most appropriate choice going forward. For example, if your appointed agent is deceased or otherwise incapable of handling the responsibility, is under investigation for a crime or is in jail, if you’ve had a falling out with your agent or if you no longer trust in your power of attorney agent’s abilities to handle your medical decisions or financial decisions, you will want to discuss with your estate planning lawyer who should instead be appointed in a power of attorney document.

These questions are not always easy to answer and require careful consideration from a thoughtful lawyer who has been there before and has helped many other clients navigate this situation. Set up a consultation today to discuss whether your existing power of attorney document accomplishes your goals.

If you need support with any aspect of Maine or NH estate planning, we’re here to guide you.


Four Important Terms Related to Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney can be specially crafted to align with your individual needs and expectations. It is very important to familiarize yourself with some of the different aspects of different power of attorney forms to ensure that you have selected the right type of power of attorney based on your individual circumstances and the person you intend to appoint.

A power of attorney allows you to name an individual referred to as an agent or an attorney in fact who will act in your place in the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to act on your own. There are four primary types of powers of attorney:

  • A general power of attorney gives your agent all of the powers and rights that you have yourself, such as signing documents or making financial transactions and more. This is often used by people who are not incapacitated but need additional support with their financial management.
  • A limited power of attorney names explicit rights to a power of attorney agent has when it comes to acting in your stead.
  • A springing power of attorney enables your attorney in fact to step in and make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated but it’s not effective till you do become incapacitated. When using a springing power of attorney, it is very important that the standards for determining that you are incapacitated and triggering the action in the power of attorney are clearly laid out.
  • A durable power of attorney can be limited or general in scope but stays in effect after you have become incapacitated. No one can represent you if you have become incapacitated without a power of attorney unless a court appoints a guardian or a conservator. Your durable power of attorney is a key document and a component of your estate plan that will remain in effect until you pass away unless you rescind it while you are not currently incapacitated.

For further information about creating your own power of attorney document, set up a time to speak with an estate planning law firm today.