Probating Your Will Before You Die

A new state law, in effect as of July 1, 2014, allows a will to be probated before the person passes away.  Under this new law, an individual who has written a will that is likely to be contested may obtain approval of the will from the Probate Court in advance.  It proactively prevents disputes among heirs, avoiding costly litigation.

New Hampshire is one of the few states to have this type of law.

Read more about it in an article written by Paul Briand for the Seacoast Online.

If you would like to speak with an attorney about estate planning, the Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association can refer you to competent and insured attorneys who handle estate planning matters.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Last Will & Testament Documents

Who Inherits Your Digital Library?

Photo by Amit Agarwal

Quentin Fottrell reports in The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, on what happens to your digital library of books and music when you die.

Many of us will accumulate vast libraries of digital books and music over the course of our lifetimes. But when we die, our collections of words and music may expire with us.

Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.

And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”

Read the entire article.

The Lawyer Referral Service of the NH Bar Association can refer you to attorneys who can advise you on matters pertaining to wills and estates.  Call 603-229-0002 or request a referral online.

Administering an Estate in New Hampshire

As an executor or administrator of an estate, it is your responsibility, under the Probate Court’s supervision, to ensure that the debts and assets of the estate are managed and distributed in accordance with New Hampshire law and the decedent’s wishes if expressed in a will.

An executor is a person named by a decedent in a will to administer an estate (called a testate estate). An administrator is a person eligible under New Hampshire law, and who is approved by the Probate Court, to administer an estate when the decedent leaves no will (called an intestate estate) or when the executor(s) named in the will cannot serve. Whether you are an executor or an administrator (also referred to as a fiduciary), you must exercise the highest duty of good faith and candor in carrying out the administration of the decedent’s estate.

Your responsibility as executor or administrator is to perform certain tasks to see that the estate is properly probated. The assets of the decedent’s estate must be collected and its debts paid, if sufficient funds exist in the estate. The assets must be managed while awaiting approval to distribute them and estate funds must be kept separate from any other funds by opening an account in the name of the estate and depositing all estate funds and paying all estate bills from that account. The value of the estate’s assets must be determined by an appraiser named by you and appointed by the Probate Court. This valuation is extremely important because it establishes the tax basis for federal and state death taxes and for heirs or legatees who inherit the property. You must inform all persons with any legal interest in the estate, including creditors and potential heirs, of any matters that might affect their interests.

 While you do not need to be an attorney to serve as an executor or administrator, you should always consult an attorney when issues arise which you are not comfortable handling. If consulted for a proper purpose, attorneys’ fees are payable out of the estate. The Probate Court Register’s office, (similar to a Court Clerk’s office), may be of some assistance in giving general advice and providing necessary forms, but it is not allowed to give legal advice.

To download a complete copy of “Administering an Estate”, prepared by the Public Information committee of the NH Bar Association and the Probate Court Administrative Office, go to http://www.nhbar.org/uploads/pdf/admin_an_estate.pdf.

If you do not feel comfortable administering an estate on your own, the NH Lawyer Referral Service can refer you to an experienced attorney who handles estate administration.   Call the Lawyer Referral Service at 603-229-0002 or request an online referral at https://www.newhampshirelawyerreferral.com/contact-us.