Most people do not want to think about their death.  However, getting your affairs in order is a priceless gift that you can give to your loved ones.  Many clients tell me that they have a sense of relief once we have completed the process.

If you do not have a Will or a Trust to determine what happens to your property after your death, the State will decide for you.  Likewise, if you do not have certain lifetime estate planning documents in place and you become unable to handle your own affairs, your family may have to go to Court to get a guardian appointed.  Then, a Judge will decide who will make those decisions for you.

It is much better for you to decide these things yourself: how you want your property to be distributed, who will make medical decisions for you if you are unable, who will take care of your financial matters during your lifetime.  That is why it is so important to get your affairs in order.     

Estate planning documents are not all related to your death. There are several estate planning documents that you may need during your lifetime. For example, there may come a time during your lifetime when you are unable to handle your own financial matters or make decisions regarding your medical treatment. If that happens, and you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters or an Advance Directive (a durable power of attorney for health care and living will), then someone will have to go to Court to get a guardian appointed for you.

You can avoid this by completing these simple, but important, documents. When you complete these documents, you are leaving instructions to those people you trust to handle your finances and medical treatment according to your wishes.

For some people, estate planning also includes other documents that may be utilized during their lifetime as well. The Law Office of Hope M. Flynn, PLLC, also prepares prenuptial agreements and post nuptial agreements. In addition, we assist clients with business planning and succession issues, which are directly related to their estate plan.

A will specifies how a person wants his or her property to be distributed upon his or her death. A will can also designate a guardian or guardians for your minor child(ren). There are specific legal requirements that must be followed in executing a will. The benefit to having a will is that you decide what happens to your property and who you would like to be guardian of your minor child(ren). A simple estate plan may involve wills, durable powers of attorney for financial matters and health care, living wills and a designation of an authorized person under HIPPA.

For some people, privacy in these matters is of the utmost concern. Revocable trusts are often a great way to combine estate planning goals and avoid the probate process, thus keeping your matters private. In many cases, trust planning can also minimize, or even eliminate, the likelihood of paying estate taxes.

There are also more complex trust arrangements which may be warranted depending on a client’s particular situation. For example, if a client wants to preserve assets for future generations, reduce or postpone estate, gift or generation skipping transfer tax liability, address the distribution of assets located outside of the State of New Hampshire, or to accomplish philanthropic goals.

We will help you decide, based on your unique situation, what the approach is for you. No matter what type of trust we prepare for a client, we assist and guide you through the process of transferring your assets to the trust or trusts that we have created (also known as funding your trust). We also assist you in the proper titling of all of your assets and the proper completion of any life insurance and retirement plan beneficiary designation forms.

We also assist with the administration, interpretation and termination of trusts. All trustees have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust to manage the trust assets according to the terms of the trust document. We provide advice to both trustees and trust beneficiaries.

The loss of a loved one is often a difficult and stressful time. Probate is a foreign process to most people. That is why we assist clients in navigating through Probate Court to settle or administer an estate.

When a person dies, if he or she owned any property in his or her own name individually, their estate must be administered. We can assist you with this. Administering an estate involves gathering the deceased person’s assets, paying debts and taxes, settling claims against the estate and transferring property to the named beneficiaries or heirs at law.

The Probate Court supervises the transfer of probate assets, whether someone dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). Probate assets are those assets that the deceased owned individually without a designated beneficiary or owned individually with the estate named as a beneficiary.

Non probate assets are not subject to the supervision of Probate Court. Non probate assets include jointly owned property, trust assets, life insurance, annuities and retirement plans (provided that the estate is not the designated beneficiary).

If a person had a Trust, we can assist with the administration, interpretation and termination of trusts. All trustees have a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the trust to manage the trust assets according to the terms of the trust document. We provide advice to both trustees and trust beneficiaries.