Asset and estate planning includes managing and protecting assets during your life and arranging for passing assets to later generations through your estate. Such planning requires knowledge of estate and income tax consequences of holding and transferring assets, familiarity with the probate process and use of trusts, wills, powers of attorney and medical directives. More importantly, it also requires an understanding of your individual situation, needs and wishes, including your family and business.
Estate planning is the preservation and the distribution of your assets, both during your life and upon your death. It is accomplishing your personal and family goals and easing the management of your financial and legal affairs, as well as minimizing taxes if your estate is large enough for taxes to be of concern.
THE POWER OF PLANNING
When we talk about an estate, we mean all assets of any value that you own, including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, personal property and even your personal effects.
An “estate plan,” generally, refers to the means by which your estate is passed on to your loved ones on your death. Estate planning can be accomplished through a variety of methods, including:
REVOCABLE LIVING TRUSTS
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
WHEN PROBLEMS ARISE
Problems often arise when people don’t coordinate all of these methods of passing on their estate. If you have a well-drafted estate plan in place, you will ensure that your estate passes to whom you want, when you want, and is carried out in the manner you’ve chosen. You can rest assured that your family won’t have to endure the public process and costly matter of probate. The government won’t be able to take what you’ve spent a lifetime building. But you need to be aware of the many options that exist in estate planning – and you must choose your estate planning attorney wisely.
Why do I need estate planning?
Estate planning deals with one’s affairs after death, while at the same time helping to organize one’s affairs during life (see “Powers of Attorney” under the “What documents do I need?” question below).
Without a will, a person’s assets are transferred according to the state’s intestacy laws; these laws may not reflect the way a given individual wants to distribute their assets. But an estate plan can be tailored to distribute your assets according to your wants and needs. With an estate plan, you can make specific bequests to leave given sums of money or items of value.
When do I need to update my current estate planning?
There is no set time period when one should regularly update estate planning; rather, it is prudent to do so when either one’s life circumstances change or the law changes. It is a good idea to check in when your situation changes, and at that time we can see whether the law has also changed.
If you have moved to New Hampshire from out of state, it is probably a good idea to have your current estate plan reviewed to see if any local changes are needed.
What documents do I need?
Financial Power of Attorney: The most useful documents are those intended for use during your life. You can use a power of attorney for financial matters to appoint an agent to assist you in conducting business.
Advance Directive for Health Care: An advance directive for health care appoints an agent to make medical decisions if you are unable to do so. This document also gives your agent the ability to make end-of-life decisions for you.
Will: The basic document that someone needs to direct their affairs after their death is a will. A will appoints an executor, who gathers the individual’s assets and distributes them according to the wishes expressed in the will. A will can also appoint a guardian for minor children.
Trust: A trust is a tool that can be used for many different purposes. The purposes for which our clients find trusts most useful are to appoint a trustee to care for assets for minor children, to care for assets for someone who needs long-term care due to a physical or mental illness, and to most economically manage taxes. Because tax laws are currently fluctuating, we also can create documents that give a surviving spouse the option of using a trust or not, depending on the tax landscape at time the estate is probated.
What is asset protection?
Asset protection is a means of ensuring that your assets are preserved for your benefit during your lifetime, and ultimately transferred to your family members and others you care about. We help you to achieve this goal through setting up simple and more complex trust arrangements, avoiding probate, and minimizing inheritance taxes.
What is Medicaid Planning?
Medicaid planning is a form of asset protection planning focused specifically on ensuring the maximum possible preservation of your assets in the event you or your spouse needs nursing home care.
What is family business succession?
Family owned businesses face unique problems due to the complexities of family relationships. Frequently, a family owned business is an estate’s most valuable asset. Our business and estate planning attorneys work together with families to ensure that a business can continue after the first generation through careful planning.
Does everyone need a will?
If you want to insure that the people you care about inherit your assets, then you should have a will. Otherwise, the government creates an estate plan, called intestacy, for you. People you care about may not inherit your assets under the government created estate plan.
What is a durable power of attorney?
A durable power of attorney allows you to choose someone to manage your assets and pay your bills in the event of your disability or incapacity. Otherwise, if you become disabled or incapacitated, someone will have to petition a court to obtain the power to provide these services for you, known as a guardianship.
What are durable powers of attorney for health care and living wills?
A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to retain control over your own medical care during periods of incapacity through the prior designation of an individual to make health care decisions. A living will allows you to direct what measures will or will not be used to prolong your life in circumstances where there is no hope for recovery.
Do you offer free consultations?
Yes, we offer a complimentary, thirty minute telephone consultation, so that prospective clients can discuss the specifics of their case with an attorney. To schedule a phone consultation, call Burleigh Law Office, P.C at (603) 702-0440 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much will it cost to hire a lawyer?
At Burleigh Law Office, we offer flat-fee and hourly billing. Typically, a case that involves litigation will be billed by the hour, as these cases are unpredictable and their complexity cannot be predetermined. Please call Burleigh Law Office to inquire about your specific legal needs and the corresponding flat fee or hourly rate.
Where can I go for additional information?
Contact Melissa Burleigh
MELISSA J. BURLEIGH ESQ.
Melissa graduated from Norwich University in 2002 with her Bachelors of Arts in Criminal Justice. She received her Master in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 2004 and finished her Juris Doctorate degree in 2011 from Massachusetts School of Law.
Melissa was admitted to practice law in Massachusetts in 2011, and in New Hampshire in 2014. She has built her practice to give each of her clients individual attention in an effort to get to know them and to learn about their personal needs.
The materials appearing on this website are provided for informational use only, and are no way intended legal advice or opinion of this law office.