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Alkalay & Smillie, PLLC

in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire

Office: (603) 447-8994
Fax: (603) 297-2866

Articles of Interest

Attorney Edward Alkalay writes a regular column for the Conway Daily Sun newspaper entitled "The Legal Corner." His articles address a wide variety of timely legal issues. Click on the titles below to review his past articles.

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The Legal Corner: The Legal Corner: Don\'t wait! Make a will today.

April 9, 2012

The first article that I wrote for this column involved the importance of making a will and other estate planning documents. All things being equal, I continue to believe that this is the single most important legal step that every person should take. The documents required for estate planning have changed somewhat over the years, so I have decided to update the article to include the latest estate planning documents and to re-emphasize the importance of drafting a will and other necessary documents. It is relatively inexpensive for an attorney to draft the documents, and will literally last a lifetime. Even if you cannot afford an attorney, drafting the documents yourself is better than having no estate planning documents.
Drafting a will is not a pleasant thought. After all, who wants to plan for a time when you will not be around? But so many unpleasant results can happen to a spouse, children or extended family when a person dies intestate (without a will), that it is imperative to plan for that eventuality. If you do not make a will, state law may determine who gets your money and your property. Relatives may have disputes over what your intentions were. It is especially important for parents with young children to engage in estate planning. Without a will, a court may decide who will raise your children.
Most people will need fairly standard documents -- a will, a power of attorney, a living will, and a health care power of attorney. (Of course, if you have a large estate, more involved planning may be necessary.) A simple will functions to give your property, including money, land, and personal items, to those that you wish to have them. A power of attorney generally will grant the authority to another to make financial decisions for you in the event that you are incapacitated and unable to make them for yourself or if you simply want someone to be able to act for you with respect to any financial matters. A health care power of attorney enables you to appoint another to make health care decisions for you if you are incapacitated and unable to do so. Finally, a living will allows you to determine in advance how you will be treated by your health care providers under specific circumstances. The critical issue with all of these documents is that they allow you to have control now over how certain future decisions are made or who makes certain decisions for you.
The safest route to estate planning is to talk to an attorney. However, even if you cannot afford an attorney, you should still engage in estate planning. There are many viable (and free) options available to pursue estate planning. A research trip to the library or a book store may help you get started. There are many good books involving the drafting of wills and estate planning documents. Additionally, these days there are many valuable resources online to help individuals who cannot otherwise afford to pay for legal services. One word of caution – different states have different laws. Consequently, if you use a book or online resource, be sure that it takes into consideration New Hampshire laws.
Estate planning is not something that anyone looks forward to. However, some simple planning at present may help you and your loved ones avoid stress, anxiety and painful disputes in the future. Remember, the best time to make estate planning decisions is when you are healthy and able.

Edward D. Alkalay is a partner at Alkalay & Smillie PLLC and can be reached at (603)447-8994 or ed@northconwaylawyers.com. (This article conveys general information and should not be relied on for legal advice without further research and/or consultation with an attorney.)

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By: Edward D. Alkalay