Frequently Asked Questions

Our Estate Planning Frequently Asked Questions

Is a will enough or do I need a trust?
Do I have to come into the office to modify something in my plan?
What needs to change in my plan when my children turn 18?
We answer questions like these and many more in our collection of FAQs.

My loved one passed away and I’m named as the executor of the will, what do I have to do next?

When a loved one passes away, you may discover that you were named the executor of his or her will. In both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, the executor is now referred to as a personal representative. Acting as personal representative means that you are responsible for administering the estate. Unless you have served in this role in the past, you may feel confused and overwhelmed as to how to get started.

Five First Steps for a New Hampshire Executor During Probate Administration

What should you do next after your loved one has passed away? The following

are five suggested initial steps:

  • Contact an experienced Hampton probate administration attorney. The guidance of a knowledgeable professional can help ensure that you are fulfilling all of your responsibilities as a personal representative. It can also help lighten your load by sharing many of the necessary estate administration tasks.
  • Carefully review the last will and testament. This document will not only list your name as personal representative of the estate, it will also state who should receive the assets of the estate and who should be appointed guardian of any minor children.
  • File the will. In New Hampshire, wills must be filed with the probate court within 30 days of date of death.
  • Prepare and file the necessary paperwork to obtain your appointment as personal representative of the estate. Until the court grants its approval, you will not have authority to take action in your capacity as executor.
  • Locate the assets of the estate. Once you have your appointment as personal representative, you are responsible for safeguarding and managing these assets.

These five items are just a small sampling of the many tasks you will need to accomplish as part of the full estate administration process. It is important that you act quickly and efficiently when serving in this role. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate the process alone. A knowledgeable New Hampshire probate administration lawyer can help you fulfill your responsibilities in the best possible manner.

Contact us today for a consultation by calling (603) 434-1770.

Is Creating a New Hampshire Revocable Trust Expensive?

Today more than ever, costs are an important factor in making any major decision. This is true even for a New Hampshire estate plan, something needed by every individual over the age of 18. Using a revocable trust as part of your plan may increase the initial, upfront cost; however, it often saves money over the long term. Revocable trusts are a cost effective estate planning tool that can dramatically reduce the time, expense, and complication involved in administering your estate after you are gone.

5 Ways Your New Hampshire Revocable Trust May Reduce Estate Administration Costs

How does a revocable trust help to reduce costs during an estate administration? The following are a few examples:

  • Avoids probate court costs and filing fees. Every state has a series of fees associated with the various stages of the probate process, from the initial filing to the closing of the estate. This is especially true if you own property in more than one state. Without a trust in place, your loved ones would need to open a probate in both states, increasing the overall administration costs substantially.
  • Potentially less legal time needed by the attorney helping to administer the estate. In most cases, administering a trust is far easier and more efficient than a probate administration. This can translate into less time needed on the part of the attorney who is assisting with the trust administration. The less legal time incurred, the lower the bill that ultimately needs to be paid.
  • Avoids the need to obtain a bond. In some states, and especially New Hampshire, the personal representative of your estate will be ordered to obtain a bond in order to proceed with the probate proceeding. This expense is often avoided during a trust administration, as the trust can be written to specifically remove the need for this cost.
  • Minimizes costs associated with delays in the administration process. Some of the costs associated with probating an estate are associated with the waiting period between the various stages of the court process. For example, until someone is appointed personal representative of the estate, no one has authority to manage and protect estate assets. These delays can become especially costly if you are the owner of a small business or real estate. With a trust administration, the successor trustee has this authority almost immediately.
  • Potentially less money spent on trustee or executor fees.  Whether your estate requires a probate administration a trust administration, the person in charge, either the personal representative (of a probate estate) or the trustee (of a trust) are typically entitled to reasonable compensation for their time. Since many probate administrations are more time consuming than trust administrations, the overall cost of the trustee fee may be less than the cost of the personal representative fee for services.

In addition to the cost savings, revocable trusts provide numerous other benefits, making them a cost effective and valuable estate planning tool. Contact us today to learn more by calling (603) 434-1770.

What is the process for forming a New Hampshire LLC?

For many New Hampshire residents, a newly created limited liability company can provide peace of mind when it comes to protecting assets. Some individuals form an LLC to hold title to a rental property in an effort to shield personal assets from the possibility of a lawsuit brought by a tenant. Other individuals form an LLC when creating a new business or when their existing business grows to the extent that liability protection becomes a real concern. Regardless of the reason, the process can be easy and efficient when overseen by a knowledgeable New Hampshire LLC attorney.

What is the process for creating an LLC in New Hampshire?

To form a limited liability company, your first step should be to contact an experienced attorney. Next, your lawyer will assist with the following parts of the process:

  • Draft a Certificate of Formation for the new LLC. This requires making certain decisions including a name for the new company, choosing a principal address, and deciding whether you want to be a member-managed or a manager-managed LLC.
  • File the Certificate of Formation with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office. There are several means for filing; however, the quickest is typically to create an account and file online. After carefully reviewing your draft Certificate of Formation, the final version is submitted for approval.
  • Obtain the approved Certificate of Formation. If you filed electronically, you will receive notice that the filing was accepted via email. The Certificate of Formation should be kept with the records of the company.
  • Obtain a tax ID number. The employer identification number can be obtained online and typically takes just a few minutes. It is important to discuss the application with your attorney or accountant before attempting this yourself, as mistakes can be cumbersome to correct.
  • Open a bank account for the LLC. This step is critical because co-mingling personal and LLC funds can create an opening for creditors to attack the liability protection of the LLC.
  • Draft an Operating Agreement. Unfortunately, many people who file their LLC without the assistance of an attorney neglect this step. The operating agreement is important for many reasons, including the ability to dictate what should happen with the LLC if you become incapacitated or pass away.

While there is no requirement to use an attorney when filing an LLC, there are many benefits to obtaining the assistance of a knowledgeable lawyer as you move forward with the process. We are here to help.

Contact us today for a consultation by calling (603) 434-1770.

Does my child need an estate plan as he heads off to college this fall?

In the blink of an eye, your child suddenly goes from a toddler in diapers to a young adult heading away to college for the first time. While this bittersweet moment in time is a right of passage for parents everywhere, few realize the importance of making sure their son or daughter has proper estate planning documents in place before leaving. These essential tools make it possible for parents to act quickly and efficiently on behalf of their child in the event of an emergency.

Basic Estate Planning Documents Every Child Over Age 18 Needs

Estate planning documents are critical for every person, no matter what age. This includes young adults after they turn 18. At a minimum, every individual should have:

  • Durable General Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Patient Authorization
  • New Hampshire Advance Directives with Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and Living Will
  • Massachusetts Health Care Proxy with Medical Directive

These documents, in combination, allow a parent to immediately step in during an emergency to manage a child’s medical care, speak directly with medical providers, and manage a child’s personal information and financial assets. Unfortunately, many parents assume that because it is their child, they will automatically have these rights in place. If your child is over age 18, however, he or she is a legal adult. As such, you may be denied access to bank accounts, be unable to access important personal information, and struggle to oversee your child’s health care absent intervention from the courts.

Before your child leaves home this fall, whether it be to attend college or to set out on his or her own for the first time, take the necessary steps to know that you can act quickly in the event of an emergency. We are here to help you obtain that peace of mind so that you can focus on enjoying your child’s first big life steps into adulthood. We make this process quick, easy, and painless, by offering a Back to School Package for all children over age 18 at a very affordable cost.

Contact us today for more information by calling (603) 434-1770.

How do I know if I need a revocable trust as part of my estate plan?

Creating an estate plan that meets all of your needs and goals takes careful thought and consideration. During this process, you will be faced with choices about which documents you really need. Everyone, regardless of their age, health, or financial status, needs certain basic documents. These instruments include health care proxies, durable powers of attorney, and HIPAA releases. It is also strongly recommended to have a will to dictate who should inherit your assets. Do you also need to add a New Hampshire revocable living trust to your plan? The answer may surprise you.Whether or not you should add a trust often has less to do with how much money you have and more to do with your personal circumstances and priorities. A millionaire who has all of his wealth in an IRA may find that simply naming his wife as the beneficiary of the IRA accomplishes his main goals. On the other hand, a young couple with minor children who own their home may realize that a revocable trust can help them avoid probate and have greater control over how their children receive their inheritance.6 Reasons to Consider Adding a Revocable Trust to Your Estate PlanThe following are six reasons you might need a trust in New Hampshire:

  • You have minor children. Holding assets in trust for their benefit avoids the needs for probate court involvement in managing the inheritance and helps to ensure your assets are put to their best use while the kids are young.
  • You own real estate. If you do not want your loved ones to have to probate your estate after you pass away, owning real estate in trust allows for a quick and easy change of ownership without court involvement.
  • You want to make things easy on your loved ones if you become incapacitated or pass away. Administering a trust is a lot easier, faster, and typically less expensive than going through a full probate administration.
  • You own property in more than one state. If you own probate in more than one state, a trust can help avoid the need to open up multiple probate administrations in the various states.
  • You have concerns about your beneficiary inheriting assets outright. Worried about a potential divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit involving any of your beneficiaries in the future? Holding the assets in trust can help protect their inheritance.
  • You want to have a say in what happens to your assets after you die. Leaving assets to a loved one through a will is effective. Unfortunately, wills must still pass through the probate process, and the assets are simply distributed to the beneficiaries. Trusts not only avoid probate, they also allow you to exert control over the assets for many years into the future.

The first step in deciding whether or not you need a trust is to contact an experienced Exeter estate planning attorney. We are here to help educate you about trusts and guide you through the process of deciding whether you would benefit from this estate planning tool. Contact us today for a consultation by calling (603) 434-1770.

What is estate planning?

Estate planning involves making important decisions and taking action now, so that the administration of your estate and handling of your affairs is as easy as possible for your loved ones when something happens to you in the future.

What happens when someone dies without a will?

Unfortunately, dying without a will means the person’s estate will likely need to be probated, and once that lengthy process is complete, the assets will pass to family members in accordance with the state’s law.

What is probate?

Probate is the judicial process whereby a court “proves” and accepts a will as a valid public document and helps organize the estate to the proper beneficiaries. Unfortunately, this process is often lengthy and complicated.

Should I hire a lawyer to help me draft a will, or can I do it myself?

We recommend hiring a lawyer who focuses her practice specifically on estate planning, ensuring they are up to speed with the frequently changing laws and complex issues in this field.  Creating an effective estate plan requires a detailed analysis of your specific needs and goals to develop the right strategy for your family.

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

While both documents direct who should receive your assets after you pass, a will must go through the lengthy and often expensive probate process in order to have any binding effect.  This is unlike a trust, which passes assets to your loved ones without the need for court involvement.

When should I make updates to my estate plan?

We recommend reviewing your plan annually, as well as whenever there is a change in life circumstances, your wishes, the laws, or the tax code.  Common reasons for an update include a marriage, divorce, purchase or sale of a home, retirement, and birth of a child or grandchildren.

I’m worried my family will contest my will. What can I do to prevent this from happening?

The best thing you can do to prevent a successful will contest is to meet with a knowledgeable attorney who will include specific provisions within your documents and take certain steps when creating your plan to address this concern.

I was listed in the will as a beneficiary of certain assets. Why didn’t I inherit the assets?

There are several possible explanations. Your loved one may have sold or no longer owned the asset listed in the will at the time of his or her passing and never updated the estate plan accordingly.  It is also possible that the debts of the estate exceeded the assets, necessitating that some or all of the assets be sold.

Are my estate planning documents from another state still valid?

In most cases, the answer is yes, but we always recommend having your documents reviewed by a local estate planning attorney in your new state, as each state may have unique requirements.

How much does estate planning cost?

Costs will vary depending on your needs and goals.  We offer flat fee billing so that there are never any surprises, and various levels of plans to fit your budget.

What are trusts and what benefits do they offer?

A trust is a wonderful estate planning tool with many benefits.  They are often used to ensure an easy, efficient administration of your estate after you have passed, without the need for court involvement, to  hold assets for your loved ones after you are gone, giving you more control over how and when they are ultimately distributed, and to minimize taxes or protect assets.

What estate planning plans can I make for my pets?

Pets are an important part of the family!  We can incorporate special provisions within your will or trust to provide for their care after you are gone.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a document used to appoint an agent to make important decisions and take action on your behalf, avoiding the need for a guardianship if you are incapacitated.

Can I leave money to a charity after I die?

Leaving money to a charity is a wonderful gesture that can be accomplished through a will or trust, depending on your needs or goals.