Estate Planning: Take the Time and Effort to Do it Right

Planning to fail
Estate planning can have far-reaching consequences regardless of whether it is complex or quite simple.

WMUR.com's recent post, "Money Matters: Common estate planning mistakes," says that regardless of how easy or difficult you think estate planning may be, it's important to review your wishes and have the proper documents prepared to ensure they are followed at your death. In this post WMUR.com shares a few of the most common and potentially costly mistakes, along with suggestions on how to avoid them.

Failing to plan. Many of us don't have a will—but like it or not you do have an estate plan. The plan is called the law of your state and the probate judge. If you die without a will, your estate will be divided according to intestacy laws. In that case, there's no guarantee this will be what you wanted. A one-page will or a more complex plan with other strategies like a trust can help reduce estate taxes, save on administrative costs, and put you in the driver's seat when deciding how your assets are to be distributed to your heirs, charities, or to help a family member with special needs. Another important point: in many states a will is the only way that you can name a guardian for your minor children. So, if you move from one state to another, be sure to check local laws.

Failing to maximize your marital estate exemption. The new portability law provisions ease some of the estate tax planning burden by allowing each individual a $5.43 million federal estate tax exemption in 2015. If one spouse dies without using up his or her $5.43 million, the unused portion may be transferred to the other spouse for use at the survivor's death (hence the term "portable."). You should also remember to investigate any state estate taxes when reviewing your strategy and make certain to discuss how portability is elected with your attorney.

Naming a relative as executor or trustee. Your executor is the individual or company responsible for administering your estate after you die. It's a big responsibility, so this person needs to take the job seriously. A loved one may be too emotional to focus on this task, and there can be conflicts if the executor is also a beneficiary. You might consider using a professional along with the family member. This can save you both time and money. Talk to your estate planning attorney.

Relying on advice from family or friends. Your brother's kid may be a first year law student with all kinds of enthusiasm, but you need to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Estate planning is a "must do." You need to be prepared and have your legal documents in place to give your loved ones peace of mind, knowing that things will occur as you wished upon your passing. Everyone's situation is unique. Talk with an estate planning attorney to help you review your needs. And remember that estate planning is not done once—you must review your plan periodically for changes in your life.

Reference: WMUR.com (December 10, 2015) "Money Matters: Common estate planning mistakes"


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
  • We launched the rollout of our on-demand webinar early so that new clients and our allied professionals can view the important component parts of ‘an estate plan that works’ at their convenience.  That is available on our website.
  • Live video workshops will be produced as quickly as possible and certainly ahead of our previous schedule; we will keep you posted as these events become available. Given the ‘boutique’ nature of the firm, we rarely have more than ten people in our office including team members at any one time. During this period of ‘social distancing,’ we promise to have no more than 8 people at any time.   This allows us to comply with the Governor’s directive to limit in-person gatherings.
  • The best way to communicate with us is still by phone during regular office hours of 8:30 to 5:00, Monday through Friday, or, you can email any of our team members (that is, their first name followed by @zarembalaw.com).  We will respond to these emails as quickly as possible.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.