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 in New Hampshire
Everyone needs to ensure that their assets are properly taken care of in the event of death. The best way to do this is through proper estate planning. It is important to build a will or trust that serves your family’s needs. It is also essential to keep your will or trust updated whenever changes are necessary. People of all ages are encouraged to plan their estate. Once the initial planning is completed it will be easy to make any changes, additions, and updates to it as your life and your estate evolves.
Estate planning is needed for everyone, not just the wealthy. No matter what the size of your estate, you must create a detailed financial plan to ensure that your estate is protected. Your estate includes all your assets including money as well as property. Everything that you have accumulated is part of your estate and will be subject to specific laws and taxes. An attorney experienced in estate planning will be able to review your assets and recommend the best way to handle your estate to take advantage of the latest tax laws.
Elements of an Estate Plan
No matter what your financial situation, it is essential to put an estate plan in place. A good estate plan should encompass several important areas. The most basic goal of an estate plan is to address distribution of assets but it can do so much more than that. Some of the elements of an estate plan include assignment of power of attorney, a health care proxy, a living will, and sometimes a trust. An estate plan is more than a simple will. While a will provides information as to how assets are to be distributed, an estate plan goes beyond this basic function to address many potential situations that could occur.
For example, an estate plan may include a health care proxy – a choice as to how important health care decisions should be addressed if you are unable to do so. Another part of an estate plan is a living will. A living will, like a health care proxy, determines how issues regarding such things as your finances, health care, and living arrangements will be legally taken care of should you become unable to make the decisions on your own.
Trusts and Estate Plans
Trusts may be part of an estate plan. A trust is a specific method of distribution of assets – it outlines exactly how assets will be provided for after death. The trust may be a living trust, meaning that it is already in effect, to an extent, while you are alive. The living trust is likely the most popular kind of trust currently available. There are many reasons for utilizing a trust. Some of the most important reasons include tax and probate issues that can sometimes be circumvented through the use of a trust. An experienced attorney will be able to assist in the initial estate plan as well as in the subsequent review and revisions as they are needed.
Inventory of Assets for Your Estate Plan
It is important to maintain an up to date inventory of all your important assets. This inventory is to be addressed as part of your estate plan. For example, you own a family bible that has been handed down through the generations and is always kept by the oldest son of the family. When you die, you need to specify who gets the bible, even though it may seem to be common knowledge. It is important to specifically address each and every item you own if you are concerned about making sure who received it. Asset distribution can become very complex, especially when there is a blended family and multiple children. You must specify who should receive which items or assets after your death. Another important consideration is what the best way to distribute your assets will be in regards to taxes. In some cases, it may be beneficial to begin distribution of some of your assets as gifts prior to your death.
Why You Need an Estate Plan
An estate plan is something that everyone needs. The estate plan is a way to review your assets and determine how to best take care of them after you are gone. Having an estate plan is good but alone, it isn’t enough. You need to keep your estate plan up to date in order for it to be of any value. Laws change, tax rules are modified, and your assets may increase as well. To accommodate these changes you must keep your estate plan current. Any time you have a significant change to your assets or your status (you get married, divorced, or your spouse dies) your estate plan as well as your will should be reviewed. This can be easily accomplished once you have established an initial estate plan.
Help in Creating an Estate Plan
Because estate plans can become very complicated and have important repercussions, an estate plan is best completed by a knowledgeable attorney. Your lawyer will work with you to review your list of assets and determine the best way to take care of them after your death. If you have specific wishes about how to distribute your assets you need to have an estate plan. Additionally, the estate plan will help your family receive the assets with the least possible penalties such as estate taxes. This highly focused area of expertise requires an attorney who focuses on this type of law.
A good estate plan will account for all the possible situations that could occur regarding distribution and taxes. Those with substantial estates should be particularly careful to make sure that the result will be as intended. Tax concerns are the major consideration and must be reviewed periodically. When an estate plan is not properly reviewed it could result in your loved ones receiving much less than you had intended. The goal of your estate plan is to make certain that your estate is divided properly and your loved ones are cared for. Consult with an attorney to have a good estate plan created.
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