A loved one’s death is a traumatic event, regardless of the death being expected or sudden. We all need a period to grieve and adjust to the loss. It’s difficult to consider the legal, financial and business elements, which is why estate planning is so important.
One role of estate planning is deciding who receives your property and assets after you are no longer here. This is known as the transfer of property after death. It can also involve designating a guardian for young children as well as naming a representative to make financial and medical decisions for you should you become unable to do so.
If, at the time of your death, your wife is pregnant, the child who is born later is entitled to the same rights as children who were living before your death. There is one stipulation: the child must survive 120 hours after birth.
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 to those in the military. 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.
Also, rights of survivorship play a big role as well. If both spouses own an asset, the death of one spouse means a transfer to the surviving spouse in most instances.
If the decedent left a will, it usually names a person to be the personal representative of the estate, known as an executor. The executor is responsible for conducting an inventory and accounting; distribution of the estate’s assets; and paying the estate’s debts and taxes.
You may have heard of dying intestate. This means there was no will at the time of death. It often also means a lengthy probate process. This is both time consuming and often, expensive. It doesn’t need to be that way, though.
It’s just one more reason why estate planning is so important. If there is no will, the probate court will appoint an administrator. Like the executor, the administrator is responsible for completing all the requirements to distribute the assets of the estate. There may sometimes be exceptions or limitations, each state law varies.
The reality is estate planning is more important in our modern society than ever before. Because of its expansion, your estate planning team can help ensure your will is solid, your trusts are in place and every tax advantage has been incorporated. The time to do this, however, is today. We don’t know what tomorrow holds.
To learn more about all of these estate planning elements, along with the other important considerations, contact our offices New Hampshire estate planning lawyers today.
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