Estate Planning Check Up

Major life events are a great time to talk with an experienced estate planning attorney regarding your estate plan. By speaking with our knowledgeable attorneys, you can have peace of mind that you have a plan that you and your loved ones will be protected through the difficulty of your incapacity or death.

Whether you get married, have children, move to a new state, or get divorced, major life events can change the goals and concerns you should have for your estate plan. Having a will, sometimes referred to as a last will and testament, to provide for your loved ones is very important. In South Carolina, without a will, the laws of intestacy apply. This can mean that a spouse shares your estate with your children, even if the children are minors. Having a will that contains a testamentary trust allows you to provide for minor children, or incapacitated adults, in a way that will care for them well past your death.

Many spouses own their home as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common. This way of holding title allows the survivor of the joint tenants to automatically own the real property at the death of the other owner. This form of ownership of real estate is not limited to spouses. Joint tenants with rights of survivorship, and not as tenants in common, can be a useful way to ensure your loved ones can have clear title to real property quickly after your death. Our attorneys can tell you how you hold title to your real property and suggest more beneficial ways to hold title.

A durable power of attorney is a useful document that allows a trusted person, such as a spouse, sibling or child, to manage your financial affairs during your lifetime. If you become unable to manage your own business transactions, the attorney in fact that you name in your durable power of attorney will have the authority to continue your transactions, whether they need to access bank accounts, collect and deposit money due, or sign deeds to manage your real estate. While an attorney in fact acting under a durable power of attorney does not have authority to transact your business after your death, the document can be a key part of your advance planning.

A revocable trust is a useful tool to maintain control over your property while planning for your successor to receive the portion you leave to them. This can combine the goals and features of a durable power of attorney with the division of your property in your will. A revocable trust does this by taking title to your assets today, including real estate, bank accounts, cars, life insurance, retirement accounts, and holding them in the name of a trustee. Often, the settlor, the person who creates the trust, is the initial trustee. A successor trustee may take title in the event the original trustee is unable to continue as trustee. This allows the successor trustee to transact business much life a durable power of attorney. The revocable trust can then provide who is to receive what property when you pass away. The beneficiaries of your revocable trust can be provided for until they have the maturity to accept the property you leave to them. The revocable trust can be a useful tool in providing for a spouse during their lifetime, while ultimately leaving property to your children.

Reading and understanding your estate planning documents is important. If you read your will, durable power of attorney, or revocable trust agreement, and have questions, contact our experienced attorneys to help you understand your plan and to give you the peace of mind that your plan fits your current needs.

Subject: York County SC Law. Estate Planning.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes, and it should not be relied upon as legal advice.