16 May Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
A key part of estate planning is the last Will and Testament, otherwise known as a Will. A Will gives you the freedom to decide how your estate is distributed among loved ones, to select who will care for your children, and to make charitable donations.
1. Who Needs a Will?
If you answer yes to any of the questions below, you need a Will:
A. Do you care who gets your property when you die?
B. Do you care who gets your money when you die?
C. Do you care who is appointed the guardian of your minor children when you die?
Regardless of how much or how little money you have, you need a Will.
2. How Property is Transferred Without a Will in South Carolina.
Without a Will, your property will be distributed based on South Carolina’s intestate succession laws. Your spouse and children, if you have any, inherit first. Followed by your parents and siblings. If you are single and have no children, then your parents inherit, followed by siblings. In the rare case that you have no living relatives by blood or marriage, all of your property goes to the state of South Carolina.
Usually, this order of inheritance established under South Carolina law does not align with your wishes. That is why it is important to write down your wishes and make them known in a Will.
3. Benefits of a Will.
A Will does more than spell out who inherits how much of each item. It establishes a plan for your family after your death and allows you to select a personal representative who you trust to ensure the terms of the Will are followed and your estate is properly distributed. Specifically, a Will can name a guardian for minor children or instruct your family on whether you want to be buried, cremated, or donate your body for research and any other specific funeral plans. It can also allow you to make charitable contributions to organizations or causes you hold dear.
A carefully crafted estate plan and Will can even decrease the amount of taxes your heirs will be required to pay. Using tools like trusts, beneficiary designations, and property ownership planning, it can be possible for your heirs to avoid or significantly reduce the probate process.
4. Why You Should Hire a Professional Estate Planning Attorney?
The benefits retaining a professional estate planning attorney far outweigh the cost involved. There is more to estate planning than just writing a Will. Ensuring your beneficiary designations on insurance policies are properly listed, your bank accounts are properly titled, and your vehicles are properly registered allows you to avoid the probate process, saving your heirs time and money.
Our office typically prepares a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Durable Power of Attorney in conjunction with preparing a Will. A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to designate a trusted individual to make your end of life decisions. It also allows you to establish an end of life care plan. A Durable Power of Attorney establishes who will have the authority to pay bills and make decisions on your behalf in the event you have a stroke or become disabled. Both of these documents are important parts of the estate planning process.
There is no way to know what lies ahead. Begin planning for your family’s future today with a Will. Our Firm can make sure your Will meets your exact needs and expectations, as well as the requirements of South Carolina law.
Lauren Williams is an attorney with Russell P. Patterson, P.A. in Hilton Head, SC. She can be reached at (843) 341-9300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information or interaction on this page should not be construed as establishing a client-attorney relationship or as legal advice. For advice about your specific situation, please consult one of our attorneys.