Category Archives: What’s New

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorneys Receive Accolades From Super Lawyers

November 14, 2016

NORTH CONWAY, NH – Cooper Cargill Chant, PA is proud to announce that its Partner Paul  Chant has been selected by Super Lawyers New England Magazine for recognition in its 2016 publication.  Super Lawyers, a Thompson-Reuters business, is a prestigious honor awarded to attorneys who exemplify the highest standards and abilities in areas of law.

Cooper Cargill Chant, PA’s Super Lawyer for 2016 is Attorney Paul Chant.  Attorney Chant was named for personal injury practice, on the Plaintiff side.  He has 30 years of experience representing Plaintiff’s in personal injury and workers’ compensation litigation.   Attorney Chant was selected by Business New Hampshire Magazine as its “Top personal injury lawyer” for 2015 for the entire state of New Hampshire.  Paul is President of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council and a Member of the New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors.

In addition to Attorney Chant’s selection as a Super Lawyer, Cooper Cargill Chant, PA Associate Leslie Leonard was named a Rising Star.  Attorney Leonard is an Associate whose practice is in family law, estate planning, personal injury  and employment law.  She is the Past-President of the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum Board of Directors, Vice President of the Rotary Club of North Conway, a member of the Board of Directors of the White Mountain Health Center. and a Graduate of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.

Attorneys chosen to the list of Super Lawyers must pass a rigorous, research driven selection process that consists of peer nominations and ratings and in depth evaluations by a highly credentialed panel of attorneys.  Lawyers who make the final list have attained the highest degree of professional achievement and recognition from their legal peers.

Super Lawyers Magazine was created to honor exceptional attorneys and to provide consumers in need of legal services in their region with access to an objective list of top lawyers in their area, because no more than 5% of attorneys in this state are named to the Super Lawyers Magazine list – and no more than 2.5% of attorneys are selected to the list of Rising Stars.™   (Honoring lawyers age 40 or younger or in practice 10 years or less). Consumers can feel confidence in choosing lawyers who have been recognized by the trusted publication.  For more information, visit the Super Lawyer web site.

Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern NH and western Maine.

For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.

Gray Divorce – How Boomers are changing the face of divorce

November 7, 2016

If you are over 50 and getting divorced, you’re not alone. A recent study from Bowling Green State University called, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” reports that in the past two decades, the divorce rate has doubled for people over 50, while declining for younger couples.

In 2009, 25 percent of divorces included a spouse over 50. Researchers point to several factors including: older people are more likely to be in second marriages, which have a higher rate of divorce, decline in the stigma surrounding divorce, and increasing lifespans have changed the view of marriage as a lifetime commitment. Middle aged clients see this phase of their life as an opportunity to make changes that would have been more difficult when they were raising children and building careers.

Challenges of the Gray Divorce
Divorce brings the realization that a middle aged couple will have to divide their carefully nurtured nest egg between them. This can be difficult, since most people over 50 have their assets contained in real estate and restricted retirement plans or pensions. Expenses will increase, when, for example, each has to pay for their own health insurance and housing. Even common expenses like utilities, auto insurance or a vacation become more daunting.
At middle age, most people have reached their highest earning capacity and are looking towards retirement, when their incomes will decrease and become fixed. Divorce may lead to a change of retirement plans, or reentering the workforce and putting off retirement entirely for a time.

Easing Troubled Times
All this is happening while the primary relationship of each spouse’s life is dissolving and they have to face an uncertain future. Many over 50 are worried about the impact of divorce on their spouse and their families. Many  want to be fair and insure each will leave the marriage in as good a shape as possible. In most cases, each spouse wants to avoid an expensive and lengthy court battle.

Given these challenges, those over 50 should seriously consider the most flexible and creative solutions to divorce. Using mediation or collaborative law promotes a problem solving approach to divorce. Avoiding court battles will significantly reduce the cost and length of a divorce. In some cases, it may not make sense to get divorced at all. New Hampshire now allows married couples to create “post-nuptial” agreements. Using a “post-nup” can allow parties to separate assets and create support obligations, while still taking advantage of the benefits of remaining married, such as favored tax status, the right to inherit and continued health coverage on family plans.
Published November 2016 – Business NH Magazine

Leslie Leonard is an attorney at Cooper Cargill Chant focusing on family law and estate planning.

Cooper Cargill Chant and Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce present Free Lunch & Learn Series

October 25, 2016

Cooper Cargill Chant and the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce present a Lunch & Learn series.  Each session in this series will focus on an area of expertise from a Cooper Cargill Chant attorney. These Lunch & Learn sessions will give you the opportunity to learn and network with Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys in an informal environment on legal topics important to you.  All sessions are free and a new Lunch & Learn is presented each month!  Sessions will be brown bag lunches (bring your own lunch).  All sessions are interactive, so please bring your questions.  Here is more information about each of the sessions in the upcoming Lunch & Learn series:

April 13, 2017 – Mediation in the Workplace, presented by Randall F. Cooper, Esq.
With over 40 years of practicing law in the Mount Washington Valley and recent mediator certifications, Randy believes in the power of mediation to resolve disputes in the workplace. This session will cover the process of mediation, how mediation works and can help your business resolve disputes in a timely cost effective manner while empowering your employees. Also to be discussed will be the types of disputes where workplace mediation can be most effective and more! BRING YOUR OWN LUNCH | RSVP: Lisa 356-5701 ext. 300
Facebook Event Details

 

May 11, 2017 – Commercial and Residential Landlord/Tenant Law – What You Need to Know, presented by Dennis L. Morgan, Esq.

Disclaimer
All presentations are general and non-specific overviews of topics involving law.  The information offered by these presentations, both written and oral, should not be considered legal advice, and does not give rise to an attorney-client privilege.  You should consult with a lawyer to discuss your individual situation if you believe that the topics discussed herein apply to you or your business.

Online Renting: Traps for the Unaware

June 30, 2016

NORTH CONWAY, NH –  Use of online rental services like Airbnb, VRBO and Home Away has exploded in the last few years.  While use of these services may provide a relatively easy way to earn extra money from your in-law apartment or the unused time at your camp or condo, there are many traps and pitfalls of which a homeowner should be aware before listing your home.

Generally, when you transition from hosting friends in your home or guest room to strangers paying for it, you’ve changed from private property owner to business person. The law governing the use of your property changes accordingly.
 
First – Taxes:  the money you earn is income and you have to claim it on your federal and state income tax return. In addition, in New Hampshire, you may have to pay rooms and meals tax for each rental. Some services, like Airbnb actually collect the rent and pay it out to you, and then send you a form 1099 at the end of the year. This means the IRS is getting notice of the rent you’ve been paid. Other services like VRBO actually allow you to collect the rent directly from the renters and you have to keep track of your income.
 
Second – State law protects renters: In New Hampshire, short term vacation rentals are governed by RSA 540-C. Most importantly, this statute requires a property owner to obtain written rental agreements with specific provisions to evict a renter if they overstay their welcome – lest they become long term tenants. There are penalties for wrongful eviction.
 
Third – Insurance:  Property owners should check their homeowners insurance, as most standard  residential homeowners’ policies do not cover tenants or renters; and you may be violating your policy by renting.  In any case, damage caused by renters is not likely covered; and worse, if someone is hurt on your property, you may face a lawsuit with no insurance coverage. To be  covered, you will likely need to purchase additional insurance to cover your commercial use.
 
Fourth – Liability:  Most people hold the properties they rent in their own names, and therefore if a renter brings suit, your other assets might be exposed.  Property owners should consider additional liability protection, whether through corporate structuring, or additional umbrella insurance. 
 
Fifth – Condominium rules, zoning ordinances and safety regulations: Renting your property may be prohibited or limited by your condominium documents, homeowners’ association documents, deed restrictions, local zoning regulations, or safety codes.  Again, once you rent your property, you have changed the use of your property to a commercial use; and separate laws apply.  Short term rentals are prohibited by many Association documents; and the safety and fire codes may require substantial upgrades to the property for rental uses, including extra means of egress and automatic fire suppression.    
 
The most important thing to understand is that when you rent property to someone, your relationship with that person becomes a business relationship the law governing the relationship changes, and your exposure to financial risk is higher.  Before you list online, it is always a good idea to consult with your attorney and tax professionals to ensure that you and your assets are protected, and your new business is accomplished in a legal fashion. 
For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.

 

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorney and Firm Receive Best in the Valley Award

May 13, 2016

NORTH CONWAY, NH – Cooper Cargill Chant, PA is proud to announce that its Partner Kenneth Cargill has been selected as Best Lawyer in Best of Mount Washington Valley Awards sponsored by the Conway Daily Sun. In addition, to Attorney Cargill’s selection as Best Lawyer, Cooper Cargill Chant was named Best Law Firm in the Mount Washington Valley. 

More than 4,000 people cast about 110,000 votes in 107 categories of businesses and people during The Conway Daily Sun’s online survey to acknowledge and promote the best of Mount Washington Valley. All voting was done online, and promoted via digital and print media.

KRC Best Lawyer

COOPER CARGILL CHANT DIRECTOR CHARLES GREENHALGH NOMINATED TO CIRCUIT COURT JUDGESHIP

April 5, 2016

NORTH CONWAY and BERLIN – Cooper Cargill Chant P.A. extends it heartfelt congratulations to its Shareholder and Director Charles L. Greenhalgh on his nomination by the Governor as a Judge to the New Hampshire Circuit Court.  The Governor could not have made a better choice, particularly given Charles’s long time practice of law in Carroll and Coos Counties, and his record of service to our community, our counties, and the State of New Hampshire.

During his years at Cooper Cargill Chant, Charles was recognized by numerous organizations for his commitment to the local community and the legal community.  Among other accolades, Charles received the 2014 L. Jonathan Ross Award for Outstanding Commitment to Legal Services for the Poor, the 2011 NH Bar Association President’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the 2010 Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award for Rural Justice, and the 2009 Lynda A. Ruel Award for Representation of Victims of Domestic Violence.  He has served for many years as a Director of the NH Pro Bono Program, as a Director of the New Hampshire Bar Association, as President-Elect of the North Conway Rotary Club, and a Director of the White Mountain Waldorf School.

Cooper Cargill Chant will continue the firm’s practice in all areas in which we presently service clients.  The Litigation Department, including Partners Paul Chant, Christopher Meier, and Dennis Morgan, Senior Associate Leslie Leonard, and our paralegals and support staff, will continue the Firm’s litigation practice in all areas, including the family law, employment law, and landlord tenant practice areas which Charles helped grow during his tenure.  Cooper Cargill Chant is a full service law firm that practices in Carroll County, Coos County, and Western Maine.

For more information, contact:
Christopher T. Meier
COOPER CARGILL CHANT, P.A.
Attorneys at Law
2935 White Mountain Highway
North Conway, NH 03860
Voice:   (603) 356-5439
Fax:      (603) 356-7975
Web:     www.coopercargillchant.com

The Second Time Around — The opioid epidemic is making grandparents parents again

March 17, 2016

NORTH CONWAY — If you’ve been reading the news, you’ve no doubt heard of the devastating effects that the opioid or heroin epidemic has had on New Hampshire. Unfortunately, New Hampshire is the state with the highest teen substance abuse per capita, and deaths from opioids jumped 76 percent in 2014. The effect of this epidemic is not confined only to the drug users, but also has a profound effect on the families of the users, often long before an overdose or legal involvement.

Recently Cooper Cargill Chant’s family law practice has seen a steep increase in grandparents seeking advice on caring for their grandchildren after their adult child has died or become incapacitated by addiction. While the state has directed substantial resources into treatment and law enforcement, it has done little to assist families of the addicts. Grandparents, who may have already retired, are finding they are the only ones who can now raise their young grandchildren. Many of these children who have lived through their parent’s addictions, may come with medical and behavioral challenges of their own.

In New Hampshire, parents have sole authority over their children and can exclude even grandparents from contact. Without court intervention, grandparents may not be able to help neglected grandchildren. In other instances, parents may live with or rely on grandparents to care for their children, knowing they, themselves, are unable to do so.

Even when parents are cooperative, grandparents will still face legal challenges. Without court orders, grandparents have no legal right to make parenting decisions such as schooling or medical treatment. Even a routine trip to the dentist can be challenging, as grandparents have no legal ability to authorize treatment.

The most common legal option for grandparents is guardianship. As a guardian, the grandparent is given the legal authority to act as a parent for their grandchild (also known as the ward). If the parent is cooperative, then obtaining a guardianship can be relatively routine; however, if not, it can involve a complicated and expensive legal proceeding. Of course once appointed as guardian, the grandparent becomes legally obligated to provide for the welfare of the child, and will be required to make periodic reports to the court regarding the child’s welfare and assets if any. The guardian will be expected to insure the child is cared for, receives medical treatment and schooling.

In more extreme cases, the grandparent may seek a termination of parental rights and/or adoption. These proceedings are significantly more complicated than a guardianship.

If you’re a grandparent, you were a parent and you know that raising children is a young person’s game. Add this to having to deal with the impact of having an adult child with a serious addiction as well as a grandchild who has lost their parent to addiction, either physically or emotionally. Finally, becoming a guardian while living on a fixed income can add financial difficulties.

Any person who is or may be in this situation will have to rely on a network of medical and legal professionals to navigate this challenge. Cooper Cargill Chant’s Charles L. Greenhalgh and Leslie M. Leonard are attorneys who have been successful in assisting families through guardianship proceedings. They have successfully dealt with the various state agencies involved, and can help families facing this challenge.

Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the N.H. Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the N.H. Bar Association, the N.H. Association for Justice, and the N.H. Bar Foundation. Their lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern New Hampshire and western Maine.

For more information, call (603) 356-5439

Gray Divorce: How People Over 50 are Changing the Face of Divorce

February 26, 2016

By Attorney Charles Greenhalgh, Partner, Cooper Cargill Chant

NORTH CONWAY, NH — If you are over 50 and getting divorced, you’re not alone. A recent study from Bowling Green State University called  ” The Gray Divorce Revolution”, reports that in the past two decades, the divorce rate has doubled for people over 50, while declining for younger couples.

In 2009, 25% of divorces included a spouse over 50. Researchers point to several factors including: older people are more likely to be in second marriages, which have a higher rate of divorce, decline in the stigma surrounding divorce and, increasing lifespans have changed the view of marriage as a lifetime commitment. As a divorce attorney, my experience has been that middle aged clients see this phase of their life as an opportunity to make changes which would have been more difficult when they were raising children and building careers.

Divorce brings the realization that a middle aged couple will have to divide their carefully nurtured nest egg between them. This can be difficult, since most people over 50 have their assets contained in real estate and restricted retirement plans or pensions. Expenses will increase, when, for example each has to pay for their own health insurance and housing. Even common expenses like utilities, auto insurance or a vacation, become more daunting.

At middle age, most people have reached their highest earning capacity and are looking towards retirement, when their incomes will decrease and become fixed.  Divorce may lead to a change of retirement plans, or reentering the workforce.  The impact can be substantially harder on women of this generation, who have generally earned less than their husbands. Even more so for women who have been homemakers and don’t have a history of work outside the home.  A woman’s  lower lifetime earnings will result in lower Social Security benefits and less put away in retirement plans.  Add to all of this such costs as legal fees, even the negative impacts on mental and physical health can deplete limited financial resources.

All this is happening while the primary relationship of each spouse’s life is dissolving and they have to face an uncertain future. I’ve found that many over 50 are worried about the impact of divorce on their spouse and their families. Many  want to be fair and insure each will leave the marriage in as good a shape as possible. In most cases, each spouse wants to avoid an expensive and lengthy court battle.

Given these challenges, those over 50 should seriously consider the most flexible and creative solutions to divorce. Using mediation or collaborative law promotes a problem solving approach to divorce.  Avoiding court battles will significantly reduce the cost and length of a divorce. In some cases, it may not make sense to get divorced at all. New Hampshire now allows married couples to create “post-nuptial” agreements. Using a “post-nup” can allow parties to separate assets and create support obligations, while still taking advantage of the benefits of remaining married, such as favored tax status, the right to inherit and continued health coverage on family plans.

For more information about family law matters, including “gray divorce,” contact Attorney Charles Greenhalgh or Attorney Leslie Leonard at 603-356-5439.

About Attorney Charles Greenhalgh:

Charles L. Greenhalgh, Partner, joined Cooper Cargill Chant in 2000 after building a very successful practice in a prominent Southern New Hampshire law firm. Bringing a calm yet unrelenting voice to his practice areas of domestic relations law, landlord tenant and employment law, Charles is equally tenacious settling disputes and litigating when warranted.

Charles focuses his Domestic Relations practice on advising families and individuals in transition, including divorce, custody, child support, guardianship and adoption matters.

Charles regularly represents client in complex divorce matters which require comprehensive knowledge of division of closely held businesses, financing property division and valuation of large assets such as businesses and extensive real estate holdings. Charles has assisted clients in hidden or misrepresented assets and income and evaluating various options for child support and alimony in high asset cases.

Top Mistakes to Avoid When Considering Divorce or Separation

January 8, 2016

North Conway, NH – Happy New Year! Or is it? With the dawn of the New Year and the passing of the holiday season, January often brings thoughts of divorce or separation. The family law attorneys at Cooper Cargill Chant share the top mistakes to avoid if you’re in this situation:

  1. Taking less than you are entitled to in an effort to “get out” quickly. Often, one or both parties have decided they simply “want out” and will take anything- even much less than they are entitled to – in order to finalize a divorce quickly. Then, months or even years later, that person will realize they compromised too much, and agreed to far less than they were entitled to.
  2. Using the kids as leverage for financial advantages. Divorcing spouses often fall into the trap of utilizing the children as bargaining chips when contemplating financial separation- “I’ll give you more time with the kids if you give me more of the equity in the house”; “I will fight for custody of the kids unless you agree to pay me alimony” or similar proposals. Using your kids in this way minimizes the relationship each parent has with their children and will only likely lead to resentment down the road.
  3. Bringing fault grounds as a way to “punish” the other spouse. Sometimes, very rarely, divorces brought on fault grounds may be advantageous. However, in the vast majority of cases, bringing a divorce on fault grounds only results in making an already acrimonious proceeding even more acrimonious, and does not result in any benefit to either party. Focusing on “punishing” the other spouse does not promote settlement but rather encourages litigation.
  4. Drafting final Parenting Plans and Decrees with confusing language. Often, if parties in a divorce opt not to have lawyers represent them, they draft their own final documents for submission to Court. Using unclear language (“as the parties agree”) or undefined terms (“upon the sale of the home”) often lead to more Court involvement down the road, which could be avoided with properly drafted settlement language the first time around.
  5. Not hiring a lawyer to, at the very least, review and draft agreements before they are submitted to the Court. Yes, lawyers can be expensive. And yes, you might not always like what they have to say. But lawyers know the intricacies of how the Court system works and how to draft and complete agreements which will accurately reflect the compromises made and withstand the test of time. Paying for an attorney at the beginning will likely save more in dollars and headaches down the road.
  6. Not considering alternatives to a full divorce hearing, including mediation or arbitration. Often, parties find that they can work collaboratively to reach an agreement on many issues if they hire a neutral third party to help keep them on task and focused on resolution. This is often far less acrimonious and expensive than traditional litigation.

Want to avoid these mistakes? Be sure to consult with an experienced Family Law attorney. Cooper Cargill Chant, the North Country’s largest law firm with offices in North Conway and Berlin, NH, can provide solid legal advice from award-winning attorneys. Two lawyers at the firm who accept Family Law cases are Charles Greenhalgh, Partner, and Leslie Leonard, Associate.

Charles has assisted clients in hidden or misrepresented assets and income and evaluating various options for child support and alimony in high asset cases. He has received awards for pro bono service, distinguished public service and representing victims of domestic violence.

Charles regularly represents client in complex divorce matters which required comprehensive knowledge of division of closely held businesses, financing property division and valuation of large assets such as business and extensive real estate holdings.

New Hampshire native Leslie Leonard began her career as a paralegal in Boulder, Colorado after graduating cum laude from the University of New Hampshire.  During her years as a paralegal, she gained significant experience in the areas of personal injury and family law matters. Upon graduation from UNH School of Law, Leslie commenced a two-year Superior Court Clerkship, in the Southern Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua.

Leslie’s practice focuses on family law, employment law, personal injury, social security disability and worker’s compensation. Leslie is also often appointed by the Court to take on Abuse & Neglect cases and frequently represents both victims and accused abusers in domestic violence proceedings. She was named a 2015 Super Lawyers New England Rising Star and a Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyer.

Charles L. Greenhalgh focuses his Domestic Relations practice on advising families and individuals in transition, including divorce, custody, child support, guardianship and adoption matters.

Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Their lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work.

For more information, call 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com.

Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern NH and western Maine.

Resolve Now to Get Your Will and Other Key Documents Updated Now For 2016

December 15, 2015

NORTH CONWAY, NH – How much money you have does not matter. Everyone needs an estate plan, for two reasons.

First, you need to choose who is going to take care of you and your assets during any time in which you cannot care for yourself.  Look around – how many people do you know in their 80s, 90s, even 100s ?  That could be you.  Plan for it.

Second, you need to organize your assets so that the people who inherit your property won’t be overwhelmed by the details. No matter the means, most people treasure their belongings to some extent and don’t necessarily think of their material culture as “stuff” or a mess. It will be easier for you to organize your things than it will be for them.  Just do it.

Start by making lists.  Who are the people you can count on to be helpful?  Look in your own generation, and in the next younger generation.  Come up with at least two names.  These two names are one of the most important parts of the estate plan.  Complete the plan to give these people the legal power they need to carry out the plan.

List your key advisors – doctors, dentist, accountant, financial planner, lawyer. Also make the kind of list you might make when you go on vacation:  plumber, electrician, pet sitter, whoever knows the details of your life.  Include contact information.

Then list your assets, carefully noting whether each is owned by you individually, jointly with another person, and whether or not there is a beneficiary designation in place.  Call insurance, annuity, and brokerage firms and find out who they think is your primary beneficiary, and your contingent beneficiary.  You may be surprised by the answers.

List which assets you would expect to sell first if you needed cash for a medical expense, or to hire a caregiver in your home.  Think about a time when you can’t physically or financially stay where you are now – where would you want to go?

With those lists, go see a lawyer.  You could get the key document forms online – even lawyers start with forms. A seamstress starts with a form, or pattern, too.  But like a seamstress, the lawyer’s skill involves getting the right information about you to know which form is best for you, and to then customize that form for your situation.

Every estate plan should include powers of attorney for financial matters and for health care.  These give your agents (those two people you are going to choose), the power to manage your life for you if you can’t do it.

A power of attorney for finances can be very narrow – only allowing your agent to perform a limited number of tasks, and only if your doctor finds you incompetent.  Typically, powers of attorney are much more broadly drafted, because we don’t know what problems your agent will face on your behalf, and we want that agent to have all the power that is needed.

Of course, this gives your agent the ability to do things you might not want done. So choose your agents carefully.

In New Hampshire, a power of attorney for health care is called an Advance Directive. Many people call it a health care proxy.  You can get a good form – free – at Memorial Hospital in North Conway (www.memorialhospitalnh.org).  Most lawyers include this form in the flat fee for an estate planning package.

No matter where you get the Advance Directive, the most important decision is who to name as the primary, and then alternate agent.  The basic form comes with instructions, and if you have just spent months at the hospital helping a relative or friend through the process of dying, you may be able to complete this form on your own.

If you don’t have that recent knowledge of the dying process, take advantage of one of the free local seminars on completing this form.  Or plan to talk it through with your lawyer.

Another key part of your estate plan is a Will.  After you die, the Will is taken to the probate court and the court supervises the person you have named as an executor in the process of collecting assets, paying bills, and distributing what is left.

All of our NH state courts are underfunded, understaffed, and unable to move your file as quickly as you would want it moved.  Right now, in Carroll County, NH, we only have a judge on Mondays – and not even every Monday.  The court personnel are wonderfully helpful, but there aren’t enough of them.

Minimizing the amount of assets that need to flow through that process is therefore a really good idea.  That means planning ahead.

Trusts are a more sophisticated way to manage some or all of your assets. Again, you need to carefully choose the list of people who could serve as the trustee, and you need to think carefully about how the trustee will manage your assets, and for whom.

Many people think that trusts are only for the rich – and trusts are certainly very helpful to people who have real estate in more than one state, complicated assets, or just plain lots of assets.

But a trust can minimize probate, and also, if you have a beneficiary with special needs, or substance abuse issues, or spending issues, a trust may be a necessary part of your estate plan. These trusts save the beneficiaries money in the long run.

Set aside time to make your lists, locate your important documents, and think about how your own disability and death might play out.  What a great task for the long winter nights ahead.

Deborah Fauver is an attorney at Cooper Cargill Chant PA.  She focuses her practice on estate planning, probate and trust administration, and related real estate transactions. For more information, go to www.coopercargillchant.com or call 603-356-5439.

Cooper Cargill Chant Attorneys Receive Accolades From Super Lawyers

November 6, 2015

Cooper Cargill Chant, PA is proud to announce that its Partner Paul Chant has been selected by Super Lawyers New England Magazine for recognition in its 2015 publication.  Super Lawyers, a Thompson-Reuters business, is a prestigious honor awarded to attorneys who exemplify the highest standards and abilities in areas of law.

Cooper Cargill Chant, PA’s Super Lawyer for 2015 is Attorney Paul Chant.  Attorney Chant was named for personal injury practice, on the Plaintiff side.  He has 30 years of experience representing Plaintiff’s in personal injury and workers’ compensation litigation.   Previously this year, Attorney Chant was selected by Business New Hampshire Magazine as its “Top personal injury lawyer” for 2015 for the entire state of New Hampshire.  Paul is President Elect of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council and a Member of the New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors.

In addition to Attorney Chant’s selection as a Super Lawyer, Cooper Cargill Chant, PA Associates Tyler Ray and Leslie Leonard were both named as Rising Stars.  Attorney Leonard is an Associate whose practice is in personal injury, family law and employment law.  She is the President of the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum Board of Directors, Vice President of the Rotary Club of North Conway and a member of the Board of Directors of the White Mountain Health Center. Attorney Ray is a business lawyer with emphasis in commercial, real estate and intellectual property law.  Attorney Ray is a member of the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust Board of Directors and a Graduate of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program.

 

Click here for more information.

He Knows, What They Know

May 26, 2015

Attorney Dennis Morgan has recently been re-qualified in DUI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.  This is the same course that law enforcement officers are instructed and trained on in every state. The qualification is provided by Tony Corroto.  Tony is an instructor for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and has taught DUI enforcement at the Atlanta Police Academy and the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Dennis is only one of two attorneys in Northern New Hampshire with this qualification allowing him to better protect clients’ rights.

NH Bar Pro Bono Honor Roll List – Dennis Morgan & Charles Greenhalgh

April 13, 2015

The NH Bar Association Pro Bono Honor Roll has released the list of NH attorneys who have accepted one or more cases referred by the Pro Bono Referral Program during the months of Jan. and Feb. 2015.   Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys Dennis Morgan and Charles Greenhalgh were among the attorneys listed. https://www.nhbar.org/publications/display-news-issue.asp?id=7850

 

NH’s Top Attorneys – Paul Chant

April 8, 2015

Business NH Magazine recently named Paul Chant its top personal injury attorney for 2015. The attorneys featured in this article were chosen by their peers for being the best in their field of practice. To identify these 17 attorneys in 15 specialty areas, Business NH Magazine sent surveys to attorneys across the state asking who they would want representing them or who they wouldn’t want to see across the table as opposing counsel. Attorneys who nominated colleagues at their own firm were required to nominate an equal number of lawyers outside their firm, with external nominations given more weight. Nominations were received from more than 250 attorneys. Cooper Cargill Chant congratulates Paul  for being recognized as top in his field.

NH's Top Attorneys - Paul Chant

Click image for Business NH Article