When it comes to estate planning, it’s important to learn what your options are so you can make an educated decision on what tools work best for your personal financial situation. Speaking with a South Carolina estate planning attorney can help ensure you have a comprehensive estate plan. Even if you already have an estate plan in place, it’s important to review and update it every few years as plans and wishes may change, or you might acquire or get rid of assets.
If you are just beginning to look at what options there are for planning your estate, start by learning more about the living trust and how it differs from a will.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is a standard tool used in nearly every estate plan. For those with limited assets, a will with advance directives might be all you need. Preparing a will can help protect your assets and family. With a will, you can choose to leave your property to other people or an organization. You can name a guardian for your minor children or appoint a trusted person to help manage any property you leave to your minor children. In addition, you can name a trusted individual to serve as your personal representative and ensure your wishes are carried out.
To finalize your will in the state, you must sign it in front of two witnesses who then need to sign the will as well. In some states, you need to have your Last Will and Testament notarized in order for it to be valid, however, South Carolina doesn’t require this. By using a notary, it makes the will “self-proving” so you the court may not even need to contact the witnesses.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
Someone who passes away without a will is said to die intestate, which means without a will. In South Carolina, if you die without a will, the law dictates your property will be distributed to your closest family members, starting with your spouse and children. If you do not have a spouse or children at the time of death, then your property would be distributed between your parents or next closest relatives.
Another option in South Carolina is a living trust. By creating a revocable living trust, you can control assets while you’re alive and still dictate how they are to be distributed upon your death. One of the reasons people prefer a living trust is the ability to prevent the estate from entering probate for a year or more in some cases. It’s best to place as many assets as possible in the trust, although you should be advised that some things like retirement accounts cannot be included. You can specify dates for disbursements to be made which means your assets remain protected in a trust, even after you die.
Retaining a South Carolina Estate Planning Attorney
If you need assistance with setting up your initial estate plan, or you want to make changes to your current estate plan, contact the Elliott Frazier Law Firm to schedule a consultation. Let our skilled estate planning attorneys ensure your current estate plan does everything you need it to.