Estate Planning: Trusts, Wills, and Power Of Attorney

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Attorney Bickford does estate and long-term-care planning for clients of all ages and circumstances.

Estate planning encompasses wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney for finances and health care, and living wills. The time to draw up these documents is now, before you need them. Many people find it hard to think about these matters, but are greatly relieved at knowing that their wishes will be carried out.

A will provides for the disposition of your estate when you die providing instructions for what happens to your assets and the payment of debts. If you die without a will (intestate) the state's "laws of descent and distribution" will govern who receives your property after all your bills are paid.

A revocable trust is an instrument used to manage your property without probate court court approval or supervision. This trust avoids having to petition the probate court for a guardianship during your lifetime and for the administration of your estate upon your death. It provides direction to your trustee on how to manage your assets during your lifetime and how to manage and distribute your assets upon your death. A revocable trust can also be used to maximize federal estate tax exemptions.

A durable power of attorney gives your agent or attorney-in-fact all the authority needed to conduct business for you.

A durable power of attorney for health care allows your agent to speak with your doctor and make decisions for you when you are unable to make your own informed medical decisions. You can also express your wishes on continuing or discontinuing life sustaining treatment and authorize your agent to act on your wishes.

The living will is a companion document to the durable power of attorney for health care and instructs your doctor as to what circumstances you want him or her to stop life sustaining treatment.

For a FREE booklet on "Wills, Trusts & Advance Directives" click the "Quick Link" on our "Consumer Resources" page for the New Hampshire Bar Association's website.