Do It Yourself Estate Planning
October 2018: With the proliferation of on-line document production systems and do-it-yourself estate planning books, you may be wondering whether you should create your own documents, instead of paying an attorney to prepare your Will, Trust and/or Power of Attorney. We understand the temptation. Unfortunately, our experience has shown that self-prepared estate planning documents are all too often either ill conceived or poorly drafted.
New Hampshire non-charitable private foundations
August 2018: Surprisingly, New Hampshire has some of the most cutting edge trust law in the nation. It was the first state in the United States to authorize non-charitable private foundations, in 2017, with the passage of the New Hampshire Foundation Act, RSA 564-E. Non-charitable private foundations have some characteristics in common with trusts. Attached is an article recently published by a colleague, Alexander A. Bove, Jr., about New Hampshire non-charitable private foundations that we thought you might find interesting.
New Hampshire ABLE Accounts and 2018 Changes
Attorney Alyssa Graham Garrigan - July 2018: New Hampshire's ABLE Account Program is now open for enrollment. ABLE accounts are savings accounts that allow disabled individuals to have savings that will not disqualify the beneficiary from eligibility for government benefits, provided that certain requirements are met. 2018 has also brought several changes to ABLE account programs generally, which are discussed in this post.
Should you name your Attorney as the Executor of your Estate?
June 2018 - Many clients ask if they should name their attorney as the Executor of their Estates. Although this practice has been commonly accepted in New Hampshire for many years, it is not required or even recommended for most clients.
Tax Reform and Charitable Giving
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - May 2018: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act left many representatives of non-profits wringing their hands about the anticipated effect on charitable giving. The estate, gift and generation skipping transfer tax exemption doubled from $5,490,000 per person for individuals dying in 2017 to $11,180,000 per person for 2018 decedents. Reduction in individual income tax rates and increases in the standard deductions are also perceived to result in decreased charitable giving.
How Often Should I Update My Estate Planning Documents?
Attorney Alyssa Graham - April 2018: Individuals often ask us, whether they created their estate planning documents with Ansell & Anderson or another attorney in the past, how often they should update their estate plan. The answer to this question depends on several factors.
Teaching Philanthropy through Estate Planning
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - March 2018: The variety that comes with a successful estate planning practice is what keeps the practice interesting. Some of our clients consider charitable giving to be an important part of their estate plans and want to pass that value on to their loved ones. Crafting an estate plan that helps clients to achieve this goal is a part of my job that I love.
New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services
November 2017: We were recently visited by the New Hampshire Campaign for Legal Services, who stopped by with their friends at Stonyfield to thank Ansell & Anderson for our annual support as a Pacesetter firm. Pacesetter firms are firms who annually contribute at least $500 per attorney on staff at the firm.
Making Your Own Final Arrangements
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - October 2017: Surely, I cannot expect you to spend an hour or two of your time planning your own cremation or burial, can I? You might not consider it the most pleasant way to spend an afternoon, but imagine how relieved your family members would be if they knew that you had made your own final arrangements. It is an incredibly thoughtful gift to have made these arrangements and spared your spouse, son, daughter or other loved one from this task.
Estate Planning for Pet Lovers
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - August 2017: Pets enrich our lives. For many, they are members of the family. Unlike children, pets never grow up and become self-sufficient. They are always dependent on us for food and shelter. It is natural for a person who considers his or her pets to be members of the family to be concerned about the care of the pets after his or her death.
Late Filing Portability Election
Attorney Alyssa Graham - July 2017: In part due to the number of requests, the IRS issued Revenue Procedure 2017-34, which now allows a longer period of time for the estate of a deceased spouse to file an estate tax return to elect for portability.
Love is in the air. Have you considered a prenuptial agreement? Prenuptial Agreements
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - May 2017: Each year in the spring, existing and prospective clients considering a summer wedding will contact the office to schedule a time to discuss a prenuptial agreement either for themselves of for their young adult children. More and more common these days, prenuptial agreements are part of a typical estate plan for moderately wealthy individuals who want to avoid a potential dispute with a prospective spouse.
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - April 2017: As the academic year winds down and high school students shop for prom dresses and rent tuxes, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles often think about planning for the college education of their beloved little (and not so little) ones. We are often asked to advise clients about the various techniques for making gifts to help with the staggering costs of higher education.
Spring Cleaning: Is Now A Good Time to Tidy Up Your Estate Plan?
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - March 2017: As the weather turns warmer, I feel the urge to wash my car and clean out my closets. Spring may also be a good time to consider whether your estate plan should be tidied up.
Estate Planning for Young Adults
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - December 2016: Young adults return home this time of year to visit for a few days or a few weeks. Consider taking this opportunity to discuss appropriate estate planning with them.
Potential Tax Overhaul
Attorney Alyssa Graham - November 2016: Every time there is a significant shift in power in Washington it brings with it the prospect of changes to the tax code. This election cycle is no different.
The Importance of Beneficiary Designations
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - September 2016: The care and attention given to completing and submitting beneficiary designation forms is an essential aspect of your estate plan.
Charitable Planning Options
Attorney Alyssa Graham - August 2016: There are many options for including charitable planning into your life and into your estate plan. Charitable planning is first about philanthropy; however, with the right technique, it is possible for you and your chosen charitable organization to get more out of your gift.
Change in Real Estate Transfer Tax
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - July 2016: For as long as I can remember, clients have paid the $40 minimum real estate transfer tax to transfer real estate into a revocable trust. Effective June 21, 2016, transfers into a revocable trust for estate planning purposes will be exempt from real estate transfer tax, under RSA 78-B:2, XXI.
ABLE Accounts Now Available
Attorney Alyssa Graham - June 2016: In continuation of our series of posts regarding the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (the ABLE Act), we are excited to inform you that the first ABLE account programs are now up and running.
Durable General Powers of Attorney
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - May 2016: Durable general powers of attorney are part of virtually every estate plan that we create for clients. The purpose is for a principal to designate an agent to act on the principalâ€™s behalf in the future.
New Hampshire ABLE Accounts Take the Next Step
Attorney Alyssa Graham - April 2016: New Hampshire has now taken the next step in the process. Effective March 16, 2016, New Hampshire Senate Bill 265, authorizes the establishment of an ABLE savings account program in New Hampshire.
An Explanation of the Differing Roles of Fiduciaries
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - March 2016: In the estate planning context, there are varying fiduciary roles for individuals to play. It can be difficult to keep them all straight. In this article, an explanation of the tasks undertaken by particular agents will be explained.
The Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act)
Attorney Alyssa Graham - February 2016: On December 18, 2015, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015 (the PATH Act) was signed into law by President Obama. The PATH Act extends or makes permanent over 50 separate temporary tax provisions for both individuals and businesses that were set to expire or had already expired.
Portability of the Estate Tax Exemption: How it Happens
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - December 2015: When Congress passed The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 (the â€œ2010 Tax Actâ€) the use it or lose it rule with respect to the gift and estate tax exemption changed dramatically. The concept of portability of a personâ€™s unused gift and estate tax exemption became law.
Funding Your Revocable Trust
Attorney Alyssa Graham - October 2015: You have elected to create a trust, perhaps motivated by a desire for management of assets after your death, or by the cost and time savings for your beneficiaries. In order to enjoy the full benefits of your trust, you need to fund it.
Going the Extra Mile
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - September 2015: With any task, if you make the extra effort to do a really superb job, it will be worth it. One way in which you can go the extra mile with respect to your estate planning is to provide your loved ones with a detailed road map of your intentions with respect to topics that are not covered by the basic estate planning documents. Many of us have powers of attorney, wills and trusts in place.
What is probate and why try to avoid it?
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - July 2015: Probate is a term that strikes fear and dread in the hearts of many, but probate is just a court process designed to facilitate the transfer of assets from a decedent's name to the beneficiaries (under the will) or heirs (if there is no will), while giving creditors the opportunity to make a claim against those assets.
Tax Planning with the Increased Estate Tax Exemption
Attorney Alyssa Graham - June 2015: After a decade of uncertainty regarding the estate and gift tax exemption, we can feel more comfortable planning based on the $5,000,000 estate and gift tax exemption that Congress made permanent* in January of 2013. (The exemption, which is indexed for inflation, is $5,430,000 for 2015).
Estate Tax Planning Designed to Take Advantage of Low Interest Rates
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - April 2015: Several years ago, when interest rates were at what seemed like all-time lows, we assisted clients with a couple of estate tax planning vehicles designed to leverage lifetime gifting opportunities, grantor retained annuity trust and qualified personal residence trusts. Currently, rates are still surprisingly low, leading us to recommend again that our clients consider taking advantage of these same techniques that have proven to be highly beneficial to many of our clients.
New ABLE Accounts Allow Savings for Special Needs Individuals
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - March 2015: A new option will soon be available to allow individuals with disabilities to hold assets without disqualifying the individual from receiving benefits and without establishing a Trust. Last December, the Achieving a Better Life Experience Act (the ABLE Act) became federal law.
Bedford Land Trust donates bench at Pulpit Rock in Honor of Ruth Tolf Ansell
The Bedford Land Trust has donated a bench at Pulpit Rock in honor of Ruth.
Surrogate Health Care Decision Making and New Hampshire Advance Directive for Health Care
Attorney Alyssa Graham - February 2015: By February, most New Yearâ€™s resolutions have been long discarded. Many start the year with notions of exercising more or eating better. While such ambitions are laudable, there is another aspect to healthy living that should not be overlooked: ensuring that someone can make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
Modifying Irrevocable Trusts: Part Three, Trustee Modification
Attorney Alyssa Graham - December 2014: This monthâ€™s article is the final installment in our series about modifying irrevocable trusts. As we previously mentioned, changes in New Hampshire law have simplified the process of making changes to irrevocable trusts in certain circumstances. Our first article discussed Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements and last month we discussed decanting. This article will focus on trustee modification.
Modifying Irrevocable Trusts: Part Two, Decanting
Attorney Alyssa Graham - November 2014: This monthâ€™s article is the second part of our series about modifying irrevocable trusts. As we indicated in our last post, irrevocable trusts are just that, irrevocable. It is still important that the terms and consequences of creating and funding an irrevocable trust are carefully considered before an irrevocable trust is created. Changes in New Hampshire law have, however, simplified the process for the beneficiaries or the trustee to modify an irrevocable trust in certain circumstances.
Modifying Irrevocable Trusts: Part One, Nonjudicial Settlement Agreements
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - September 2014: Irrevocable trusts are just that, irrevocable. They cannot be revoked with the assets being returned to the grantor or settlor who created and funded the irrevocable trust. Most irrevocable trusts also do not provide for the amendment of the irrevocable trust, except to keep the irrevocable trust in compliance with the tax law or certain other laws. There are at least two instances in which it is possible to change the otherwise unchangeable, or modify an irrevocable trust.
Asset Protection Trusts
Attorney Alyssa Graham - July 2014: Many clients, not just those in high-risk professions, are concerned about protecting assets from potential future creditors. In New Hampshire, one method of protecting assets is through a â€œself-settled spendthrift trust,â€ commonly referred to as an â€œasset protection trust.â€
Proving Your Will and Trust During Your Lifetime
Attorney Alyssa Graham - August 2014: On July 11, 2014, Governor Maggie Hassan signed into law a bill which amends the laws in New Hampshire relating to Wills and Trusts. The new law, Senate Bill 289, includes among its provisions a process for you to prove your Will and to determine the validity of your Revocable Trust during your lifetime.
The Walk Against Hunger
Christine S. Anderson and Erik Tolf - June 2014
A Time of Giving
Attorney Ruth Tolf Ansell - December 2013: Every year at this time, many of our clients are thinking of making gifts to their family and friends. Most of these gifts are motivated by love and affection. Some, however, are also motivated by estate tax or Medicaid planning.
Estate Planning for Non-Citizen Spouses
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - November 2013: There is no limit to how much can be moved into a U.S. citizen spouse's name, during life or at death, for gift and estate tax purposes. Transfers from spouse to spouse qualify for the unlimited marital deduction. This is not true, however, if the spouse who is to receive the assets is not a U.S. citizen.
Attorney Alyssa Graham - October 2013: Today most people have some familiarity with prenuptial agreements, which are increasingly common and certainly not just for Hollywood celebrities anymore. Postnuptial agreements, however, are a newer concept, although also increasing in popularity.
New Law Imposes Liability for Nursing Home Costs
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - September 2013: Effective July 2, 2013, Senate Bill 138 became law. This new law imposes liability for nursing home costs on persons who receive a nursing home residentâ€™s assets when the transfer of those assets is made within five years of the Medicaid application and results in Medicaid disqualification.
Planning for Access to Your life On-Line Part II
Attorney Alyssa B. Graham - August 2013: The ubiquitous tech giant, Google, has come up with its own solution for planning access to your Google account. In April of 2013, Google introduced a program called Inactive Account Manager.
How Estate Planning in New Hampshire is Affected by the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s Determination that DOMA is Unconstitutional
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - July 2013: In United States v. Windsor, 570 U.S. 12 (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which states that marriages are only valid between one man and one woman unconstitutionally violates the equal liberty protection afforded to all citizens by the Fifth Amendment. The U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™s ruling means that the estate tax planning that we do for our clients in same-sex marriages will now be aligned with the estate tax planning that we do for heterosexual married couples.
Planning for Collections
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - June 2013: Handling the disposition of a decedentâ€™s collection can be challenging. Whether the collection is bequeathed, donated or sold, careful planning during life will pay off after death.
Estate Planning and Sibling Rivalry
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - May 2013: Equal distribution of assets among children is the most common choice for our estate planning clients with children. On occasion, we work with clients who may have a child who is estranged from the family, and the clients choose to exclude the estranged child.
NFA Firearm Trusts
Attorney Alyssa Graham - November 2012: Particular attention must be paid to the disposition of firearms in estate planning documents, especially Title II firearms, commonly referred to as NFA firearms, because they have strict federal registration and transfer requirements, as well as transfer taxes imposed by the federal government.
Planning for the Inheritance of an Adult Child Subject to Child Support Orders
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - October 2012: The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently issued an opinion indicating that life insurance proceeds could be considered income of an individual for purposes of calculating the child support obligation of that individual.
Planning for Access to Your Life On-Line
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - September 2012: We all spend time and energy making sure on-line access to financial accounts is not easy for third-parties. What if the third-party is your spouse and you are unconscious in a hospital bed, having recently been in a serious accident?
Taxation of New Hampshire Trusts - New Opportunities in 2013
Attorney Ruth Tolf Ansell - August 2012: Income taxation of trusts can either be very simple or extraordinarily complicated. The difference depends on the type of trust which earns the income.
Special Needs Trusts
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - July 2012: On occasion, we have an estate planning client suggest that the client needs to exclude a child or grandchild from benefitting under the clientâ€™s estate plan because that child or grandchild receives Medicaid or is on disability. The client believes that if the child or grandchild benefits under the estate plan in any way, the Medicaid or disability benefits will be lost. While it is certainly possible to exclude a special needs child or grandchild as a beneficiary, the special needs individual will not necessarily lose benefits if that individual is a beneficiary of a well-crafted estate plan.
Estate Planning Considerations for Parents of Minor Children
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - June 2012: One of the most selfless acts of parenting that I get to witness on a fairly regular basis is when a couple with very young children comes in to discuss how to protect those children in the event of the parentsâ€™ untimely deaths. These brave souls face their most horrific fears and spend their resources to create a plan that will provide direction and support for their children and those who will care for them in the event that both of them die prematurely.
Guardianship of an Incapacitated Adult
Attorney Christine S. Anderson - May 2012: In the course of assisting our clients with estate planning, we routinely have them sign durable general powers of attorney and durable powers of attorney for health care. The purpose of these documents is to designate an agent who can act on behalf of the client in the event that the client becomes incapacitated. Despite the prevalence of powers of attorney, guardianships are a surprisingly common occurrence.
Taking Advantage of Tax Loopholes
Attorney Ruth Tolf Ansell - April 2012: Over the past few months, I have noted an abundance of television, radio and newspaper articles covering the issue of tax fairness. Undoubtedly, some of these articles have been prompted by the Republican presidential primary. Ignoring the political side of the story, however, they have been interesting from a tax perspective.
Attorney Ruth Tolf Ansell - January 2012: Whether a family resembles "Ozzie and Harriet," "The Brady Bunch" or the current "Modern Family" sitcom, most people look forward to getting together with their extended family over the holidays. Nevertheless, it is probably not coincidental that the holiday season often causes people to re-consider their estate plans.