In 2012, the New Hampshire population was slightly more than 1.3 million and assuming the the national averages are applicable for New Hampshire residents, half of all adults who comprise that population have no will in place. While Americans are living longer, there’s no denying a will can certainly lessen the burdens of loved ones as they go about the business of saying goodbye. For those in New Hampshire, wills and estate planning has never been more important.
A will, simply stated, is the process that allows someone to determine where his assets should go after death. The purpose is simple: it’s the one way you can be sure you’re leaving your material possessions or other assets to those you select.
Did you know…
The first reference to New Hampshire including a basis for a will dates back to 1641?
New Hampshire Wills
In New Hampshire, a will is accepted by the courts in one format: writing with the applicable witnesses, along with a notary’s seal. In very rare instances, the law will make an exception to the written memorialization. Usually, those exceptions are limited only to those in the military. Your estate planning attorney in New Hampshire can provide assistance in the proper format.
The validity of a will is made when witnesses attest to the fact that the testator (person whose estate is being addressed in the will) indeed created his own will under no duress. Any codicils, or changes, are also required to the meet those conditions before becoming part of your one’s last wishes.
New Hampshire Intestacy
If you die without a will, known as “intestate”, your assets that would have defined your will are passed to your immediate family members, usually your children. If, however, you have no children, your assets are then passed on to your spouse – provided there are no living parents. If you are married and have other descendents, your spouse inherits your first $250,000 and one-half of the remaining estate (the other half is passed down to those descendents). The same holds true if you leave a spouse and parents, with one exception: your spouse inherits the first $250,000 and then three-quarters of the remaining value of the estate. Your parents received the other twenty-five percent.
For those who die without a will and with no family, their estate is then placed in the state’s coffers. While that does happen from time to time, the laws in New Hampshire are designed to avoid that scenario – even if it means an estate passes to a fourth cousin you’ve never met.
There are always remarkable situations that can become a bit dicey. For instance, there exists a survivorship period. In short, it simply means anyone who receives part or all of your estate must live for at least 120 hours after your death. If he dies 119 hours after you do, his estate does not benefit from your estate’s coffers.
Also, did you know that in New Hampshire, “half’ relatives are treated as whole relatives for the sake of estate planning? For instance, if you were born from a first marriage and your parents divorce and remarry and have other children, they become your half-siblings. The playing field is leveled by dropping the “half” title.
If the worst happens and a spouse dies and leaves a pregnant wife, the child who is born later is entitled to the same rights as children who were living before your death. That child must survive 120 hours, though.
Of course, your best move is to consult with an estate planning lawyer who can help you navigate those waters. There is a peace of mind that comes with knowing those bases are covered – even if you live to be 100.
Before you meet with a New Hampshire lawyer, take a few minutes and jot down any questions you want to be sure are answered. And remember how important it is to have a good rapport with the legal team.