When Should You Begin Estate Planning? Now.
A Will, also referred to as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document that states your intentions for the distribution of your property and assets after you die. If you have children and/or pets, a Will may identify who you wish to care for them. A Will also may state your wishes as to burial and ceremony.
Although Wills serve their own purpose, a Trust is different than a Will where a Trust is private document and the public will not be able to see the Trust or know who the Beneficiaries are under a Trust.
Trusts are created for a variety of reasons and are commonly used to avoid the delay and costs of probate, financially protect minor children, elderly, disabled or incompetent persons, keep a family business going and divide property ownership among persons and provide flexibility in use of that property.
A Trust can hold virtually any kind of property, whether it is real estate, financial accounts, personal property and/or life insurance policies. A Trust can be as flexible as you need it to be. The Trust can be designed so that it can be changed whenever the Settlor believes necessary, or the Trust can be set up so it may not be changed or revoked.
In general, a Trust is a relationship where a person or persons create a Trust (the Settlor or Settlors) and designate a person or persons (the Trustee or Trustees) who will hold legal title to property for the benefit of another person or persons (the Beneficiary or Beneficiaries), subject to the Trustee or Trustees’ obligation to keep, manage or use the property for the benefit of the Beneficiary or Beneficiaries. The person who creates a Trust is sometimes called a Donor or Grantor. A properly drawn Trust does not terminate when the Settlor dies or lapse when the Settlor becomes unable to handle his or her own affairs by reason of physical or mental illness. A Trust may hold real estate, financial assets and personal property.
A Trust, when properly drafted, can be extremely useful throughout your life and can continue without interruption in the event of your incapacity or death. A Trustee can continue to manage the Trust estate and pay bills and taxes, and promptly distribute the Trust assets to the beneficiaries, without court supervision and exercise powers that the Trust agreement may give the Trustee. If the Settlor of a Trust becomes incapacitated, a Trustee (or a successor Trustee when the Settlor of the Trust is the Trustee) can step in and take over the management of property or a family business without the delay and expense of petitioning the court to appoint a conservator or guardian for the Settlor of the Trust.
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney document allows you to select a trusted person (your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent”) to act on your behalf in certain matters. You may give your attorney-in-fact broad powers to include all personal or business matters or you may limit your attorney-in-fact’s powers to a single or certain transactions.
Health Care Proxies
A health care proxy (also called a health care agent or Power of Attorney for Health Care) is the person you choose to make health care decisions for you if you’re too sick to make them for yourself.
A Living Will, also called a Personal Directive or Advance Directive, is a legal document which formally sets forth your wishes concerning medical treatment in the event you become incapacitated or terminally ill. A Living Will is not considered legally binding in Massachusetts, but the document does give your care providers clear evidence of what you want and do not want for care. The State of New Hampshire recognizes a written Advance Directive as a legal document with two parts: a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care and a Living Will.
You Can Trust An Experienced Lawyer With Your Future
Jenny Proulx ensures that her work on estate plans gives her clients, their assets and their family the protection they need. Call 617-335-8145 or 603-731-3965, or contact the firm online to set up a free consultation. The firm serves clients in New Hampshire counties such as Merrimack, Hillsborough, Cheshire and Rockingham, as well as Worcester County and Boston, Massachusetts.