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.
Estate Planning For Women – What You Need to Know
On average, women outlive men. Due to this fact, women often control the majority of a couple’s property and assets. Consequently, women develop a plan for their estate that carries out their desires and wishes with regards to how their estate should be distributed amongst their heirs.
One of the first questions that must be answered is whether or not you should go with a trust or a simple will. If state or federal estate taxes are of concern, then you should consider establishing a trust. If you are not concerned with estate taxes, you might still wish to consider creating a trust as a method of avoiding probate. There are time delays and monetary costs associated with the New Hampshire probate process, and creating a trust does cost more than simply having a will prepared. Women are encouraged to evaluate the benefits and costs of each option and decide which option will best suit their needs.
It is equally imperative for women to decide if they would like to employ the estate planning technique of lifetime giving. Traditionally, lifetime giving is used during estate planning as a method of removing assets from one’s taxable estate. However, with current estate tax exemptions being so high, women should take into consideration whether or not it is preferable for assets to remain within their taxable estate to provide their heirs the benefits the assets have to offer upon their death.
Another consideration that must be taken into account is the portability of a dead spouse’s unused estate tax exemption. This could potentially remove some of the importance of complicated trust planning. Many New Hampshire estate planning attorneys encourage their clients to explore portability when developing an estate plan.
Estate Planning For Women – Powers of Attorney
It is a common misconception that estate planning for women is the same as estate planning for men. As aforementioned, on average, women live longer than men – generally by an average of 5-6 years. By the time an adult in the United States reaches the age of 85 years, there are approximately 6 women for every 4 men. Moreover, when it comes to second marriages, women frequently marry men who are an average of eight years older than they are. Because of this discrepancy in lifespans, a woman should create an estate plan that includes provisions for incapacity. For this sole reason, a critical component of each woman’s estate plan is powers of attorney.
Women should ensure that health care and financial powers of attorney are firmly in place. The majority of New Hampshire women name their husbands as the chosen agent under her power of attorney. Since women tend to live longer, the choice of who will serve as executor of her estate is quite important. Their successor agent should be a trustworthy individual and a person whom the woman is comfortable sharing her wishes and expectations wish.
A woman should also take into consideration whether or not it is prudent to name a co-agent as her successor agent. Although this course of action is feasible when it comes to financial powers of attorney, it is rarely advisable to name co-agents when it comes to powers of attorney involving healthcare. Powers of attorney regarding healthcare are generally activated only in the case of an emergency, and it is impractical and imprudent for healthcare providers to have to contact multiple agents when a medical decision must be made quickly.
It is equally important for women to regularly update their powers of attorney. An experienced NH estate planning attorney will usually recommend that their clients update their powers of attorney every 3-5 years or sooner if New Hampshire’s laws change or the woman experiences a significant life change.
Estate Planning For Women: Hiring An NH Estate Planning Lawyer
There are a wide variety of factors that go into creating an estate plan. In most instances, a simple will, in conjunction with a variety of documents pertaining to childcare, management of finances, and healthcare, will be all that is required. In other cases, a pour over will, along with a revocable living trust, will be sufficient. Other estate plans will be more complicated, requiring irrevocable living trusts, sub-trusts, special needs trusts, and dynasty trusts. The point is that one size does not fit all.
This is where the professional services of a New Hampshire estate planning lawyer can be invaluable. Employing the services of an experienced attorney will save a woman a considerable amount of money, time, and undue grief in the long run. The “post husband” era of a woman’s life can present a myriad of legal and economic challenges, but having a plan in place can be of great help. Most importantly, when a woman proactively manages her estate, she will spare her loved ones the ordeal of having to deal with expensive attorney fees, expensive probate court proceedings, and avoidable estate taxes.
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