In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding family law, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
A Beginner’s Guide to New Hampshire Wills
Creating a last will and testament is an important component in devising the distribution of your property and estate upon your passing. A New Hampshire will enables your children, surviving spouse, other members of your family, and even pets to be cared for after your death. Although the services of a New Hampshire estate planning lawyer are not required to create a will, you are highly encouraged to hire one. He or she can assist you in creating a valid last will and testament and in selecting an executor of your estate, who will ensure that your final wishes are carried out.
The Basic Requirements For a Valid New Hampshire Will
The creator of a New Hampshire will must either be married or at least 18 years of age. He or she must possess sufficient mental faculties to reason and make rational decisions.
An NH last will and testament must be signed by the individual who created it, and in order to be valid, it must also be signed by two or more credible witnesses who do not receive property in the will. These witnesses must, at the request of the will’s creator and within their presence, attest to the creator’s signature.
To be valid, the will must be placed in writing. Wills in New Hampshire can dispose property to any individual to whom the creator wishes. New Hampshire does, under certain circumstances, recognize nuncupative wills, which is an oral will. For example, a soldier who is currently serving in the military can create an oral will to dispose of personal property that will be legally recognized in a court of law. However, the requirements to create a legally valid oral will are quite strict and must be closely followed in order to be deemed valid.
The Purpose Of a New Hampshire Will
A will is a legal document that is created for the explicit purpose of determining how your estate and personal property will be distributed after you pass away. A person’s estate consists of monetary assets and physical property, including bank accounts, your residential home, land, automobiles, furniture, and stocks and bonds. Your estate can also be passed on to a charity or property, like a church. New Hampshire laws place few restrictions on how and to whom you can distribute your property.
Wills are also used to establish who will assume guardianship for any minor children or dependent family members who are unable to care for themselves.
However, there are several exceptions to how your property can be distributed:
§ Property that is jointly owned between you and another individual, where right to survivorship exists, is automatically passed on to the surviving owner.
§ You cannot change the beneficiary of a life insurance policy through your will.
§ If a surviving spouse is excluded from your will, then he or she is entitled to assume a portion of your estate within a specific of time as established by New Hampshire’s current laws.
Revoking and Changing a New Hampshire Will
Under New Hampshire’s current laws, a last will and testament can be changed whenever you decide you would like too. Last wills and testaments are altered through the creation of a codicil. This legal document makes changes and additions to an existing will. In order to be considered valid, a codicil must be created in compliance with New Hampshire’s probate laws.
Should you choose too, your current New Hampshire last will and testament can be revoked through a codicil or by the creation of a new will. Alternately, you can choose to destroy your current will by obliterating, tearing, or canceling it.
New Hampshire Estate Taxes and Probate
New Hampshire’s current estate taxes include Federal credit for estate taxes. Within 9 months of your passing, estate taxes that must be paid as a result of the probate process must be paid to the NH Department of Revenue Administration.
Once you have passed on, probate procedures are utilized to prove that an NH last will and testament is valid, pay off estate taxes and any existing debts, appoint a legal executor of the will, and ensure property is distributed according to your wishes and desires.
New Hampshire’s Intestacy Laws
It is imperative to ensure that you create a valid New Hampshire last will and testament if you wish to exercise control over how your estate is distributed. Should you pass away without a valid will in place, and you are determined to have died “intestate”, then your estate and your personal property will be distributed in accordance with New Hampshire’s strict laws.
For example, should you leave behind a surviving spouse, but no living children or parents, then your spouse will automatically receive the entirety of your estate. Similarly, if you leave behind children, but no surviving spouse, then each of your children (whether biological or adopted) will receive an equal share in your estate.
However, if you create a New Hampshire last will and testament, then your will prevents New Hampshire’s intestacy laws from determining how your estate is distributed.
New Hampshire Estate Planning Lawyer
New Hampshire’s probate and inheritance laws are intricate and complex. You can benefit greatly from the expertise of an experienced NH estate planning lawyer, particularly if you have considerable assets and property. To receive assistance with planning your estate today, please contact our law firm.
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