Considering Your Loved Ones When Estate Planning

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When considering estate planning, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Families are certainly complicated, and it is important to decide how you want your assets distributed. Not thinking about these things often means that assets are distributed in a way that you would not have wished or in ways that cause hardship for your loved ones.

First Things First

First think about those who are dependent on you. This includes minor children and special needs children. For minor children you will need to appoint a trustee and a guardian. Sometimes this is the same person, or you can name one person to be guardian to make day to day decisions about child rearing and a second person to be trustee and be sure your assets are used in the best way to provide for your child’s financial needs. If you have a special needs child, the planning becomes a little more complicated. You will need to go through the process of guardianship/conservatorship to be able to legally manage their affairs. In your estate planning, you will need to appoint someone to replace you after you have passed away. Again, this can be a single person, for example another adult child who is able to manage day-to-day care decisions as well as financial management, or these responsibilities can be shared.

Can I Skip a Generation?

Consider who you want to leave your assets to. You can leave some directly to grandchildren who may need money for education. You may also have a child who is just not good at managing money. In this case you can leave a portion of that child’s inheritance to them at different ages so that they can mature before receiving the assets you worked so hard to accumulate. This is a time when many people think about leaving something to charity. There are ways to set up trusts so that you can use those funds if you need to but after you pass away, any remainder goes to a charity of your choice.

What About Blended Families?

You may have divorced and remarried. If this is the case, you need to seek out an attorney who is experienced in South Carolina laws and go over any divorce settlements to be sure everything is clear in terms of who inherits. You may wish for your second spouse to have use of your home but not be able to leave it to his or her children instead of yours. In addition, some discussion may need to be had over what portion of assets each spouse brought into the marriage and whether different percentages should go to each of your families. These questions are unique to each family and are best put to an experienced attorney to be sure your assets are left as you wish them to be.

How Do I Leave Possessions and Pets?

If you have possessions that have sentimental or have significant monetary value, you can specify which of your heirs receive those. It is best to have a frank discussion with your loved ones about what has value to each of them, then specify who is to receive which of your possessions in your will.

Another important consideration is your pets. Whether you have long lived pets like parrots or tortoises, expensive pets like horses, or just want to be sure your dog or cat is cared for, this is worth considering as you plan your estate. With the cost of veterinary care going up you may want to consider leaving some money for pet care as well as thinking about who will care for your pets.

What About My Family Business?

If you own a business, you will have some special considerations related to how your family business will continue after you have passed away. Succession planning for a family business involves special considerations and you will want to consult with an experienced attorney to protect your business and your family.

Finally, you or your spouse may need to think about long term or skilled nursing care. This requires some thought beforehand to preserve assets. Our attorneys are experienced in SC Medicaid for skilled nursing care as well as Veteran’s Administration Aid and Attendance regulations.

Call 803-358-7214 or complete the contact form today to schedule your time to talk to one of our experienced South Carolina Attorneys about your estate planning concerns.

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