The New Year is a fresh start and a great opportunity to take stock and consider ways to make life a little better. Along with eating better and exercising more, consider some estate planning goals. According to Forbes as many as 67% of Americans do not have even a basic will, much less a more comprehensive estate plan. Without this, their loved ones are faced with the personal and financial difficulties of settling their affairs in addition to the stress and grief of losing someone they love. The provisions of South Carolina law rarely meet the needs and desires that we have for our families, making a difficult situation even more harrowing. So, in the coming year, make a resolution to protect those you love.
The laws around inheritance when no will or estate plan exists were written a very long time ago when families consisted of a dad, a mom, and 2.5 children living in a house with a white picket fence. Today many families have experienced divorce, re-marriage, and “his, hers, ours” children. Your family could pay the steep price of the way the laws are written. In addition, the expense of probate in terms of money, time, and hassle can be considerable.
New Year’s Estate Planning Resolutions
Resolve to make a will. One of the most important function of a will for parents of young children is to designate who will be guardian of your minor children and who will be financial trustee for them. This can be the same person or two different people. You know your family members, so be sure that this is designated in a way that is best for your children. Even if you don't have minor children, it is still incredibly important to make sure you take the opportunity to plan for your family and your own unique situation.
Designate decision makers for yourself in the event you are incapacitated. Powers of attorney (POAs) designate who can make decisions if you cannot for any reason. You need a financial POA and a healthcare POA. These can be the same person or different people. In South Carolina, you can also declare your desire for a natural death if you are faced with an illness or injury that you are unlikely to recover from. If you have more questions about medical decisionmaking in South Carolina, check out the recent interview one of our attorneys did here. Be sure you discuss all these issues and your desires with your family, so they know your wishes and are not left trying to guess what you would want done. Make a detailed list of assets and keep this where your loved ones can find it in the event you are incapacitated.
Create a trust to protect your assets. A revocable trust is just one of many kinds of trusts. A revocable trust or other type of trust can help your loved ones avoid probate in many cases and can limit estate taxes as well. Resolve to create a trust then fund it by doing the necessary paperwork to move your assets into the trust.
Review deeds, titles, and other legal documents to be sure everything is still appropriate. This is especially important if there has been a change in marital status through divorce, widowhood, remarriage, or if you have inherited property.
Look at your insurance. There are many types of insurance from life to long term care, to liability. Consider your needs for the stage of life you are currently at and consider deductibles to see if you can reasonably save money on premiums.
All these things should be done to give you the most control of your family members’ future. No one wants to depend on the state to allocate assets in the best interests of your family. Families are unique and no one knows your family like you.
Call our Attorneys at 803-358-7214 today to schedule your time to talk to us about crafting a unique estate plan to protect your family. Our team stays up to date on the latest in South Carolina inheritance laws and put our knowledge and experience to work for you and your family.