Lawson Persson Weldon-Francke Law Firm Laconia NH

ESTATE PLANNING

There are three different routes to take with regard to estate planning.  The first is to do nothing.  If you do not do any estate planning, the State of New Hampshire has a default system in place which will dictate where your assets will be distributed when you die.  If you die without a Last Will and Testament, that is called “intestacy”.  If you die without a Will and you have assets in your name alone (that do not have a beneficiary designated), probate administration will have to occur in order to make sure your assets are distributed pursuant to the New Hampshire statutes.

The second is to have a Last Will and Testament drawn up for you in which you state who you want to serve as your Executor (the person who is in charge of your assets when you die) and who you want to receive your assets after you die.  If you have a Last Will and Testament, it acts as a blueprint for the Executor to follow in administering your estate.  If you have a Last Will and Testament and you die, your Executor will have to file your Will with the Probate Court with a Petition for Probate Administration.  This triggers certain requirements in terms of forms to be filed with the court and approval that must be sought from the court if certain actions are to be taken (such as selling real estate if all the heirs do not consent to the sale).  The probate estate must remain open at least six months.  Once the probate administration is concluded, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Last Will and Testament.

The third is to establish a living/grantor/inter vivos/revocable trust.  By signing a trust document during your lifetime and re-titling your assets in the name of your trust, upon your death, those assets will not need to go through a probate administration in order to be distributed to the beneficiaries you have named in your trust.  Your trustee (rather than your executor) is responsible for gathering up your trust assets and making distribution to your beneficiaries without probate court supervision.

In addition to a Last Will and Testament or a Trust, estate planning documents usually include a Durable Power of Attorney (financial) and a New Hampshire Advance Directive (health care document).

Attorney Susanne Chisholm has over 20 years of experience working with individuals and family- owned businesses in the Lakes Region.  She has drafted more than 1,000 estate plans for individuals and also advises businesses with regard to succession planning.  Susanne works with clients with modest estates and those with larger estates to make sure their intent is carried out in their estate planning documents.  Susanne has a 24 hour return telephone call policy which means that you will not have to wait to speak with her to get your questions answered.  You will also not have to wait for weeks for documents to be produced for you to review.  She understands that it is important to respond to her clients in a timely manner.
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