Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Welcome Associate Attorney Tom Harlan!

We are happy to announce that Thomas R. Harlan has joined the firm as an Associate Attorney.

A lifelong resident of Manchester, Tom was Valedictorian of Central High School’s Class of 1988.  He went on to The University of New Hampshire, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in History.  

During his undergraduate career, Tom was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society during his junior year, and subsequently obtained his Juris Doctor degree from U.N.H. Law (formerly Franklin Pierce Law Center) in 1997.

Tom has been a member of the New Hampshire Bar since 1997, and focuses his practice on estate planning.

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Case of Asset Protection

A recent client was still working at age seventy-five, but not necessarily by choice. His wife was suffering with Alzheimer’s disease, and had been living at a long-term care facility for seven years. 

During our conversation it became clear that the only reason he continued to work was to pay for his wife's care. He was exhausted, yet unsure about alternatives… 

He felt trapped... 

Like many people, he was confused about asset protection in a case where only one spouse was in need of long-term care. He had also been told about a five-year “look-back,” didn’t know whether his home and other assets were protected, and was worried about the fact that he had not done any planning. 

In fact, he confessed he wasn’t quite sure about how the look-back worked or how he could possibly maintain his wife's care if he were to stop working or, even worse, suddenly be unable to do so. 

The Good News... read the case study.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Is Your Trust "Bucket" Funded?

To avoid probate many families have their estate planning attorney create a trust, which is like a bucket a person or family carries through life. 

While carrying the “trust bucket” they can decide what they’d like to place into it, thus “funding” the trust. They can also decide who should carry the bucket for them should they become unable to do so, and also how the assets within the bucket should be distributed when they die.

If a trust is not funded when someone dies, then the probate court must decide how to distribute any assets involved and the family will incur the costs associated.

Read case study...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Helpful Legal Resource

One of the most highly trafficked legal web sites, FindLaw provides the most comprehensive set of legal resources on the Internet for:

  • Lawyers
  • Businesses
  • Students
  • Individuals
The website, findlaw.com, also contains news and legal updates, and can help people find a lawyer should they need to do so.

You can find links to additional resources like this on the "helpful links" page on our website

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Summer Reading...

We recently read On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s by Greg O’Brien and recommend the reading of this book to anyone who knows someone who is facing Alzheimer’s or any other cognitive disease.

The author, an investigative reporter, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and speaks personally about living with the disease on a day-to-day basis. Although some of the legal aspects stated in the book seemed to be a bit inaccurate, I found that the author’s frank and insightful observations into what it is like to experience early onset Alzheimer’s to be invaluable to caretakers as well as to the medical profession.

While this book isn’t a “light” summer read, the narrative is very informal and can definitely be read on the beach.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New in NH Law

Real estate transfer taxes are no longer imposed for transfers into or out of revocable trusts where the ownership interests of the transferor and transferee are identical. (RSA 78-B:2 (XXII))

Apparently, however, the NH Department of Revenue Administration and the county registries have not been updated regarding this change. We will keep you informed and are hopeful that all applicable parties will soon be on the same page.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Do You Have a Child in College?

We know that the summer is a great time to spend at the beach, but did you know that it is also a great time for your college kids to execute powers of attorney while they are home.

Many parents are surprised to learn that when their children attain the age of 18, they can no longer gain access to their children’s health care information, or schedule doctor’s appointments on their behalf. 

In NH, an 18 year old is considered to be an adult and for that reason, in order to act on behalf of your now adult child, either medically or financially, your child needs to execute a financial power of attorney and health care power of attorney.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Reflections on Freedom from an Estate Planning Perspective

As we approach the 4th of July and are thinking about the celebration of the Declaration of Independence, we would also like to reflect briefly on freedom from an estate planning perspective.
  • Freedom to choose who you want to act on your behalf when you no longer can, instead of the Court deciding who this person(s) will be.
  • Freedom to allocate assets to whomever you want, instead of the State of New Hampshire deciding for you.
  • Freedom to minimize taxes, instead of burdening beneficiaries who then face adverse tax implications.
  • Freedom to protect loved ones and to make their lives easier and less costly in the event of a disability or of a death, rather than having them involved with the Court and other bureaucracies.

Be proactive and celebrate the freedom to plan for yourself and for those dearest to you. Wishing you a happy and safe 4th of July and a wonderful summer!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Common Misconceptions When Only One Spouse Needs Long-term Care

People are frequently unsure about asset protection issues, especially  in cases where only one spouse is in need of long-term care. 

In one case, our client had been told about a five-year “look-back,” and didn’t know whether his home and other assets were protected. He and his wife were also worried about the fact that he had not done any planning. 

Fortunately, and despite common misconceptions, there are times when it is possible to transfer assets between spouses, even though one of them is in a nursing home...

Read case study...

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Elder Exploitation

Continuing with the topic of a new law relating to elder abuse that criminalizes elderly financial exploitation, which is not limited to an incapacitated person, here are some of the most common ways in which people exploit the elderly:

  • Using a financial attorney as a license to steal.
  • Treating joint accounts as your own even though you are only on the account for estate planning purposes.
  • Using another person’s ATM card and/or checks for one’s own benefit.
  • Threatening victim to get money.
  • Refusing to obtain needed medical care for the elderly person so that assets will continue to be available for abuser.
  • With respect to caregiver, keeping the change from errands, falsifying time sheets, spending time on the phone instead of doing what they are paid to do, etc.

Friday, May 13, 2016

New Elder Abuse Law

There is a new law relating to elder abuse that criminalizes elderly financial exploitation…this law is not limited to an incapacitated person.
  • Makes it a crime for fiduciaries who knowingly, or recklessly for their own profit or advantage, deprive or take real or personal property of an elderly, disabled or impaired adult for the benefit of someone other than the adult.
  • Makes it a crime for a person through the use of undue harassment, duress, force, compulsion or coercion acquires possession or control of an interest in real or personal property of an elderly, disabled or impaired adult, or establishes a relationship with a fiduciary obligation to an elderly, disabled or impaired adult that gives the person control or interest in real or personal property or other financial resources.
  • Prior to this statutory change, unless the incident involved an obvious crime, like a forged check, the police often considered reports of financial exploitation to be family or civil matters allowing the perpetrators to continue the exploitation without fear of criminal liability, which as you can imagine was very frustrating.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Things You Should Know About Elder Abuse Law in NH

Did you know that you have a duty to report elder abuse?

Any person who suspects or believes that an incapacitated person may be the subject of exploitation is required under NH law to file a report with NH Bureau of Elderly and Adult Service (BEAS).  

However, the requirement to report extends to incapacitated adults only. Phone number for BEAS is 1-800-949-0470. The report to BEAS is confidential.

Additional facts:
  • According to a 2011 MetLife study of elder financial abuse, as much as $2.9 billion per year is stolen from seniors.
  • NH is the 4th oldest state in the U.S.
  • Population of NH residents age 65+ is expected to double by 2025

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Rest of the Story... To Fund or Not To Fund - Are You "All Set?"

As a follow-up to our "tongue-in-cheek" April Fool's Day post, here's an example of an estate planning attorney who drafted a trust, but didn’t assist with any of the funding. The client thought he and his family were "all set" because they had a trust. 

Unfortunately, an unexpected heart attack claimed the client's life, and as it turned out, everything was not "all set." There was nothing in his trust and all of his assets went through probate. His probate estate incurred $20,000.00+ in legal fees to go through the probate process. 

Without funding your trust with assets, your trust will not accomplish your goal of avoiding probate and of making it easier and less expensive for your loved ones and beneficiaries down the road.

Friday, April 1, 2016

To Fund or Not to Fund? (April Fools!)

Instead of telling you how to avoid probate, in honor of April Fools Day, we decided to provide you with a list of how to guarantee that your assets will go through the probate process when you pass away. 

  • Own everything in your name only
  • Fail to name beneficiaries on all of your accounts, no transfer on death designations either
  • Don’t own anything jointly, and if you do own real estate jointly, have it owned as tenants in common (note that only sometimes does owning real estate as tenants in common make sense)
  • Create a trust, but don’t put anything in it. We lawyers call it “the funding of your trust.” If you don’t put anything in your trust, there is nothing for your successor Trustee to distribute and then the assets go through probate. Your estate planning attorney should assist you with the funding of your trust.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Don't Believe Everything You Read

We recently read some excellent books that, while works of fiction, contained what might be construed as legal advice.

Unfortunately, the "advice" was not accurate!

In one instance, a father and husband was diagnosed with a debilitating disease. While the book depicted the ensuing family challenges in a touching and compassionate way, it did not portray accurately how the healthy spouse could protect assets for herself. 

Whether conveyed by a book, by the internet, or by someone who heard something from someone else, it is important to remember, don’t believe everything you read or hear.  

For example, in another instance a character within a story was a divorce attorney, but he provided advice to a couple facing long term care planning issues.  However, an attorney who handles divorces may not offer the best advice to a client who needs long term care planning advice, and vice versa. 

We strongly recommend that if you have an issue relating to elder law and/or long term care planning, and want to obtain the best result for your situation, consulting with an elder law attorney is crucial.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Special Needs Planning?

Many among us are unaware that an estate plan can include provisions for family members with special needs.

When families have concerns about the particular needs of disabled individuals, estate planning documents can be tailored to meet those needs, while still preserving an individual’s eligibility for government benefits, if that is an issue.

This includes the preparation of special needs trusts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Family Caregivers - The Backbone of Long Term Care

It is a myth that most of the elderly are cared for by nursing homes or health care institutions, In fact, over the past several years it has been determined that over 80% of those who need long term care receive that care from unpaid caregivers.    That being the case, what can you do to make caregiving easier down the road?  

As a caregiver, the key word is plan:

  1. Determine a starting point with respect to financial matters and care options
  2. Learn about estate planning with respect to necessary documents and guardianship issues
  3. Have a plan to take care of your self!

Read the full article...