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June 2015 Archives

Divorce

Divorce in New Hampshire - The Basics:A divorce in New Hampshire is initiated by the filing of a Petition for Divorce in the appropriate Family Division for the town in which you live. Most of the time, the reason for divorce is "irreconcilable differences." This is a "no-fault" grounds for divorce that does not place blame on either spouse. It simply means that the spouses have grown apart, and their "differences" cannot be resolved to save the marriage. New Hampshire also has a list of "fault" grounds for divorce, including "adultery" and "extreme cruelty." If you allege that it is the other party's "fault" that you are filing for divorce, the divorce process will be more complicated and will take longer.A divorce decree will result in a division of all of the marital assets and debts. The assets include all of the real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and retirement interests acquired during the marriage. The debts include things like loans, credit cards, and outstanding bills. Both the assets and the debts are required to be divided "equitably." Most of the time, an "equitable" division is an "equal" division, but there are exceptions to this general rule.For example, if Jane and John Doe own a $250,000 house with an outstanding mortgage of $150,000, there is $100,000 in "equity" to be shared. In the divorce decree, if John is awarded the house, John may also be ordered by the Court to pay Jane $50,000 for her interest in the home. This is an "equal" division of the asset (50% of the equity), and it is presumed to be fair. If Jane had made a $10,000 down payment on the home from money she had in her personal bank account before the marriage, John might have to pay her $60,000 ($50,000 for her interest, and $10,000 for her additional contribution). This is an "equitable" distribution. It is not even, but it is fair, because Jane paid more than John toward the real estate. The details of the divorce decree can either be worked out by negotiation between the two spouses or decided by the Court after hearing(s). An attorney can help you decide whether to begin the process by filing a Petition for Divorce, writing a proposal to negotiate a divorce decree with your spouse, or contacting a mediator.

Your Power of Attorney May Need Updating

We all know how important it is to have a Power of Attorney so that management of your finances can be turned over to a member of your family or friend in the event you become incapacitated. If, however, you have not reviewed this document recently, it might not be as effective as you think. Increasingly, banks, who are concerned about their liability in dealing with such documents, have been refusing to honor them. The question for individuals who have executed a Power of Attorney is how to make the document work when it is most needed, and how to prevent someone from abusing the power. Generally, the Power of Attorney is needed when the person granting the power is unable to take care of their own financial matters. This can be for any number of reasons and may not be a permanent disability. In New Hampshire, once you sign a Power of Attorney it takes effect immediately. In some other states the powers may only "spring" into effect after you become incapacitated, however, a "springing power" is not available in New Hampshire. Therefore, when you grant the Power of Attorney, you must be very careful in naming an agent you trust since the power can be used at any time. In addition to choosing your agent wisely, with the assistance of your estate planning attorney, you may tailor the Power of Attorney to grant powers that are very broad or very narrow. To avoid problems with banks, portfolio managers and other institutions that manage your assets, the best advice is to review and update your documents at least annually, and more frequently if there is a family member developing dementia. Call the institutions who manage your assets and see if they have their own forms that they would like you to use along with your Power of Attorney. The best way to safeguard the Power of Attorney from abuse is to allow your attorney to keep the original with instructions as to its release. Keep a copy in your file at home. This way the person seeking to use the power must contact your attorney prior to releasing the document. The added protection could save you from losses that come with an abuse of such power.

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The Busiel Mill
One Mill Plaza
Laconia, NH 03246

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40 Canal Street
Lancaster, NH 03584

Phone: 603-788-2410
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59 North Park Street
Lebanon, NH 03766

Phone: 603-448-3080
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18 Union Street
Wolfeboro, NH 03894

Phone: 603-569-2977
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