Although there are many nuances and complexities that are case-specific, for most people, estate planning is the process of thinking through and preparing for end-of-life issues. More specifically, estate planning is the process of evaluating your assets, obligations, and responsibilities in order to proactively put into place a plan for the eventual division, distribution, and management of your estate. An estate plan typically includes a Last Will and Testament, a Power of Attorney, an Advance Directive (sometimes referred to as a Healthcare Directive), and other ancillary documents. A revocable trust is an optional additional tool that is becoming more and more common in New Hampshire as one of the only avenues for most New Hampshire residents to enable their heirs to avoid the time-consuming and costly probate court process.
Ultimately, an estate plan is articulated in a set of documents that provide a process to ensure that your belongings are dealt with in an effective and efficient manner and in accordance with your wishes—one that hopefully eliminates or mitigates the possibility of contention or strife between your surviving loved ones.
Estate planning is not just for the elderly. One of the most important times to setup an estate plan is when an individual or a couple has minor children. As difficult as it is to contemplate, it is important to make arrangements for the guardianship and financial provision for minor children should both parents die and leave minor children behind. Once setup, an estate plan needs to be updated periodically based on time and certain life events and changes.