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.


estate plan

How Many People Have Estate Plans That Pass Without a Will?

Having a will is one of the most important ways for you to outline what is key for you in your estate plan. You can use a will for multiple purposes in estate planning, such as naming a guardian for a minor child and distributing your plan

Skipping a will could be a big mistake especially if your state’s intestate succession laws do not align with how you would have transferred your own property. Check out your state’s rules to determine which pieces of your probated estate may be passed on to loved ones. Two thirds of people do not have a will, which means that if they were to pass away, their estate would pass specifically through various state laws with intestate succession. This can generate many different questions for your loved ones and there is no changing it after the fact.

Creating a will doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Working with the right estate planning lawyer near you gives you the opportunity to discuss your assets and liabilities and which of these are associated with your probate estate. From there, an attorney can help you name specific assets or more general portions of your estate that should be given to particular people.

When you have a valid will in place, it makes it much easier to transfer your assets to your loved ones in accordance with your individual wishes. Work with a NH estate planner to help begin this process and address all the most important needs in your plan.




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.


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A Will Versus Trust: What To Know

Most people understand that a will is one of the most important types of estate planning documents. will, trust

At a simple level, it can accomplish several goals within your estate planning, such as naming a guardian for any minor children and determining what happens to your property. However, it may depend on whether or not you also need a trust in connection with your will. If your estate is under a certain amount, you might not need a trust, but you should always work directly with an estate planning attorney to discuss these options. You may choose to opt out of a trust if your assets could be passed on to your chosen beneficiaries through beneficiary designation or payable transfer on death designations.

A trust could be beneficial, however, if you own property in multiple different states. You may not be sure whether or not your situation arises to the level of needing both a trust and a will.

The truth is that estate planning is highly personalized and contextualized to your underlying needs and goals. This means you need to work with an outside professional, such as an estate planning attorney who has extensive experience in this field. An estate planning lawyer can help you list out all of your assets and liabilities and then drill down into what you hope to accomplish with your estate plan.

From this point forward, you can understand whether or not a will is sufficient to accomplish your baseline goals or whether you need to consider additional tools, such as a trust. You will leave your estate planning lawyer’s office with a greater perspective on what your estate plan should look like and the opportunities to adapt and revise that plan as needed over the course of your life.

Talk to our NH estate planning office for more help in outlining your comprehensive estate plan.

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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. person, people, citizens

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.




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. NFTs

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.




When Is a Will Not Enough?

Most people recognize that estate planning requires a will for the vast majority of people, but when does a will not go far enough and potentially even leave you exposed to unnecessary problems for your loved ones?enough

Recognizing when a will doesn’t go far enough should prompt you to meet with your knowledgeable estate planning lawyer. A will doesn’t avoid probate, which is one of the biggest reasons many people choose to work with an estate planning attorney.

A common way to bypass probate instead is to generate a revocable living trust and then ensure that all of the assets you place in the trust have been retitled and have transferred ownership. With a revocable living trust, you still maintain control over the assets but you can name a successor trustee to take over after you pass away. The successor trustee can distribute your property without the involvement of a court.

A New Hampshire will is a starting point, but it might not be where you stop with your planning process.

There are other ways to pass on property, but you should always discuss this directly with your estate planning attorney to determine that you have used the appropriate strategies and tools available to you with consideration for both state and federal level impacts that could potentially change your estate planning goals or the outcomes you achieve. You need someone who will be there to guide you through the process and can help you make adjustments to your plan as needed.


Common Will and Trust Provisions for Fiduciaries

When you create your will or a trust, you’ll be able to appoint who you choose in the most important role of fiduciary. For a will, this would be your executor or personal representative. For a trust, it would be your trustee.

You can also discuss with your attorney the possibility of using specific terms within the respective document to give your agents additional authority.

One of the great things about creating your own will or drafting a trust with the help of an attorney or is that you decide what belongs in it. So long as the plan is compliant with state laws you are eligible to craft individual provisions. That being said, there are several provisions that appear in the most common trusts and wills, including the power to:

  • Sell or exchange property
  • Retain assets
  • Continue business ventures
  • Satisfy and settle claims
  • Pay assessments or taxes
  • Prosecute, negotiate or defend claims
  • Allocate items of income
  • Borrow funds with or without security
  • Sub divide, repair, lease, improve or manage real estate
  • Make distributions to beneficiaries in cash or in kind

The laws that govern trust and estate administration are designed to ensure that the responsibility of trust provided through fiduciary rules are not violated. Furthermore, your trust or will documents might limit or broaden the authority given to a fiduciary. You’ll want to speak to a knowledgeable estate planning attorney if you intend to enhance or diminish their potential authority levels.

Working with a lawyer to create your trust or will is strongly recommended; there are many things to think about in that process and having a lawyer’s help is vital for supporting you as you answer those key questions. Our NH estate planning law firm is here to help you.



What You Need to Know About Creating Your Will in New Hampshire

All states have specific laws about what counts as a legally valid will and it is important to be aware of the specifications before crafting your own will. A consultation with an experienced and dedicated New Hampshire estate planning lawyer can help you avoid many of the most common missteps that could lead to will contests and will challenges in the future.

In order to finalize a will in New Hampshire, you must sign the will in front of two witnesses and the witnesses must sign your will in front of you, per New Hampshire RSA 511:2. It’s a good idea to have a lawyer in your corner from the time you decide to draft a will so that you feel confident all your concerns are covered.

You do not have to have your will notarized in New Hampshire in order for it to be legal. New Hampshire does enable you to use a self-proving will but if you intend to go this route you will need to go to a notary to do that.

A self-proving will is often recommended to speed up the process of probate because the court is able to accept the will as legally valid without contacting the witnesses who were present at the time you signed it.

You will need to visit your notary and sign an affidavit stating who each of you are and that each of you knew you were signing a will. If you have questions about creating or revoking a will in New Hampshire, it’s advisable to speak first with an experienced estate planning lawyer.


Can Anyone Serve as the Executor of a New Hampshire Estate?

One of the most important reasons to create a will, regardless of your age or perception of your personal wealth, is to name an executor. This is because this important role is a person who will carry out the administration of your estate after you pass away.

Their primary job is to protect any of the property that you owned until any taxes and debts have been paid and then transfer any remaining property to your heirs who are entitled to it per your wishes.

Every state has rules about who can and cannot serve as an executor of an estate. Bear in mind that just because someone does meet the statutory grounds to serve as an executor doesn’t mean they want to serve in this role or that they’ll be successful in doing so.

The basic requirements for serving as an executor in New Hampshire are that this person must be of sound mind, meaning that they have not been judged incapacitated by any court, per New Hampshire RSA 21:44,533:4. There is no statute prohibiting a person from naming an executor who has been convicted of a felony in New Hampshire.

The other requirement for an executor in New Hampshire is that the party be at least 18 years old. Potential executors can be rejected by the courts in New Hampshire when they have a conflict of interest or for any reason found to be unsuitable for serving in this role or lack the ability to make sound judgements.

Need help writing your own will or changing who is named as an executor in your current will? Our NH estate planning law firm can help.