transferring property

Why Is a Trust So Valuable for Transferring Property?

transferring property

You may have the best of intentions with passing on property to other people directly, but it can create unexpected consequences if you’re not careful, Instead, you may turn to a range of tools to help ensure your wishes are followed, and one common strategy is to use a trust either during your life or in plans after you pass away to provide more control and clarity.

The most substantial transfer of wealth in our nation’s history is upon us, and you have many opportunities to leave property to your heirs and a will. However, when you put things in your will, that inheritance then goes through a legal process known as probate. You can avoid the public and time-consuming process of probate by creating a trust instead. Any real property currently owned by you may be transferred into an irrevocable trust or a revocable living trust.

You can customize a trust to the needs of your family or individuals, but getting out of probate is only one primary benefit of using a trust rather than a will or in addition to a will. When it comes to trust based real estate, upon the death of the owner, beneficiaries may also be eligible to tap into a step up in basis that they would not achieve with another method known as the lifetime gift of real estate. A step up in basis accounts for the adjustment of the value of inherited assets to their current fair market value, which therefore reduces the capital gains tax burden that the recipient owns on the asset.

Depending on your circumstances, this could have substantial financial repercussions for the loved ones you named to receive the asset. Communicate with an estate planning attorney in New Hampshire or Maine to determine whether or not this is most appropriate for you.


You Must Understand How Divorce Impacts Your Estate


Getting a divorce may be one of the biggest life changes you undertake. It can feel overwhelming, confusing, and emotionally taxing. Those are big reasons why making estate plan updates post-divorce get overlooked, putting your intentions for asset transfer at risk if something happens to you.

Depending on where you live, your soon to be ex-spouse may be entitled to assets under your estate. This is because if your divorce is not yet finalized or if you are only separated from your spouse, state laws may enable this person to receive assets from your estate if something happens to you.

Although you may not wish for this person to receive benefits from your estate, failing to take proactive planning steps such as updating your plans could put your loved ones in a difficult position. If a divorce is not yet finalized, your spouse may still be eligible to collect. The same goes for making updates to beneficiary designations in your retirement accounts and your life insurance policies.

These are easily forgotten in the hectic chaos of trying to close out your divorce, but it is extremely important to think about how you protect your current loved ones, such as your adult children or any new spouses by removing your previous spouse from your estate plan if you wish to do so.

Keeping your estate plan up to date doesn’t have to be difficult, but does require checking in after any major life changes and at least once a year. It’s a place where the details really matter.

Communicate with a New Hampshire attorney who can help walk you through a checklist of the various aspects to reconsider and documents to update after going through a separation or divorce. This will also help you understand any applicable state laws.

Should We Use Joint Ownership of Property with Adult Children?

Exploring strategies to make your estate plan as optimal and strategic as possible is highly recommended. Finding an experienced and qualified estate planning lawyer is very valuable to help you decide the best ways to own property or even share property with children in NH.

Gifting a piece of property outright may not be the right choice for you, which could lead you down the path of deciding how best to approach ensuring that they receive this property and have access. You may be exploring whether or not making them a joint owner is the best solution for estate planning purposes.

You may be curious about the benefits and the potential downsides of joint ownership. This may be referred to as joint tenancy. This is an arrangement in which beneficiaries are able to access your account without having to go through court. This often takes place with business partners and couples who may need access to one another’s real estate, personal property, brokerage accounts and bank accounts.

The biggest benefits of using joint tenancy ownership include sharing responsibility, maintaining continuity in the event that the other person is unable or unwilling to manage the account and avoiding probate courts.

However, depending on who you name and a joint tenancy agreement, you need to be aware of potential pitfalls, such as the possibility for the assets to be frozen, the need for parties to agree on what to do with the asset and potential loss of control over the distribution of assets after death. Communicating with a qualified estate planning attorney is one of the only ways to verify what is truly in your best interest. Scheduling a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer should be done immediately.


How Long After My Death Will My Heirs Need to File for Probate?


Once you pass away, the court must be notified about the death in order to open probate. While not all assets pass through probate, many do, and this requires an official procedure to open and close probate proceedings in NH.


How long your estate representative has to open probate depends on the individual jurisdiction. When you pass away, the court process of probate is required in order for the court to officially distribute your assets after debts have been paid. Even if there are no assets, someone in New Hampshire must file your will and a death certificate with the probate court within 30 days of the date of death.


It can be a big mistake to include all of the instructions associated with your estate plan in a place where your loved ones may not find them. This time limitation can add additional stress and confusion for your loved ones while they search through your belongings. Including a letter of instructions or providing details to your chosen personal representative about where to find these important materials, including those that may need to be found sooner rather than later, such as instructions for your funeral memorial service or burial is a wise idea. This ensures that your estate administrator has the opportunity to open probate quickly.


Your estate representative is typically the person who initiates the process. You need to discuss with your chosen personal representative their willingness and ability to serve in this role. It can be overwhelming for some people to take on the responsibilities of personal representative if they do not understand the extent and nature of your estate. Working with a New Hampshire estate planning law firm can help you clarify these important questions and more.

revocable, revocable trust

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.revocable, revocable trust

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.



How to Keep Your Estate Plan Up to Date

Have you already done the work of sitting down with an estate planning attorney in your area and pulling together these important documents? Congratulations, because you’ve done more than most people when it comes to their estate plan.

But the truth is that your work doesn’t stop here. Establishing the initial estate plan is only half of the process. Your estate plan should evolve over the course of your life much like other areas of financial planning.

Your wishes, beneficiaries and assets can all change over time so a regular review of your estate plan and updates around certain life events can be very beneficial. Life events in which it is worth looking at your existing strategy include:

  • The adoption or birth of a grandchild or child.
  • A change in circumstance for the named guardian of your minor children or the death of this person.
  • Divorce or marriage.
  • When a grandchild or child reaches the age of maturity.
  • State or federal tax law updates that impact your investments and taxation rate.
  • The passing away or sudden disability of a beneficiary.
  • If you experience a career change or start or close a business.
  • The purchase of a major asset, such as a home.

For more information about how estate planning can be used to help accomplish your goals, set aside time to meet with an estate planning law firm in your area. Our NH law office is here to guide you through the establishment of your estate plan, no matter what that looks like for you.