New Hampshire Magazine Ask the Expert: Wills & Estate Planning

Christina L. Krakoff
Associate, Trusts & Estates Department
Published: New Hampshire Magazine
March 15, 2023

Should people create a Living Will and grant healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney in case they are incapacitated?

Appointing an agent to make health care and financial decisions for you if you are ever incapacitated is critically important. Naming an agent (and successor if the agent is unable to serve!) under a Health Care Power of Attorney or a Durable General Power of Attorney (for financial matters)  ensures someone is there to make important decisions on your behalf and avoids the need to obtain a court-appointed  guardian.  Further, a Living Will informs your health care agent and your health care providers of your wishes regarding end-of-life care. Without a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will, the providers may defer to all life saving measures even if you do not want them. Putting those wishes in writing ensures your wishes are known, and appointing the appropriate Agents, helps make sure your wishes are respected.

For estate planning, what are some of the best ways people can improve their chances of meeting their long-term commitments to beneficiaries or non-profit groups will be met?

Do not assume that your family knows or will follow through on your commitments to certain beneficiaries or charities. The families of NH decedents who pass away without a Last Will are often surprised (and disappointed) in the statutory disposition of the decedent’s assets.  Provide for them in writing in your legal testamentary documents: Last Will, Revocable Living Trust or other testamentary designations, such as life insurance or retirement plan assets.  These documents and beneficiary designations direct how your assets are distributed upon your death. Including provisions for charitable and other bequests in your testamentary documents will help ensure that your wishes are met.