After the death of a loved one, families want to spend their time together sharing memories and recalling their most cherished moments together. No one wants to waste time or money wading through court proceedings, while an estate loses valuable resources. Hopefully, an estate plan is in place to ease the transition, but even if one is not, there are steps that can be taken to retain the most benefits. The legal team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, are experienced in probate and trusts. We can help families expedite the probate process or even avoid it altogether, as well as help plan trusts to protect assets and provide for families.
If you’re visiting our website today because you are worried about the future of your estate or you are faced with the daunting task of organizing the estate of a deceased loved one, we want to help. Call our Lexington office today at (803) 358-7214 for a free consultation.
Probate in South Carolina
Probate is the legal process that takes place after a person dies. Probate can occur both with or without a will, though the fees and time frame can increase if a person dies without a will, as the court must then appoint an executor. The process requires lawyers and involved parties to appear at court hearings, and the fees are paid from the estate. The longer this process goes on, fewer resources are left for your family. The tasks in probate can include:
- Proving a will is authentic
- Identifying all assets that will be distributed and to whom
- Paying any debts and taxes associated with the estate
- Allocating property as directed in the will
If your loved one has died without a will or the estate ends up in probate with a will, the legal team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC can offer immediate guidance to help make the process run more smoothly for your family. Our team is ready to explain the often confusing and complex probate process, set up the appropriate conditions to advance the process, and put families in contact with the proper agencies.
The probate process can become costly and can take many months once it has begun. The legal team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC, can help you avoid the costs and the stress of a long, drawn-out division of assets.
We Can Help Avoid Probate Entirely
Though we are happy to assist with estates already in probate, our legal team can also help families avoid South Carolina probate entirely. By putting a plan in place early, it is possible for estates to be transferred outside the probate process.
Probate situations rarely help beneficiaries. As the process wears on, the estate loses money and time goes by in which heirs cannot receive their inheritance. By working with you today, our experienced team can save valuable time and resources for your family later, allowing them to reap the most benefit after your lifetime of hard work and savings.
Trusts Protect Assets and Provide for Loved Ones
One key way in which we can help to avoid probate is to set up a trust. A trust exists to provide financial protection and to specify how and when to pass assets on to a beneficiary. The common belief that trust funds are suitable only for the very wealthy is simply untrue; trusts can benefit a great many people. There are a few types of trusts, including:
- Special Needs Trust – A special needs trust is critical when providing for a disabled loved one. Often, government programs are income or asset-based, and a beneficiary could be excluded from necessary programs when receiving a lump sum of money, like an inheritance. This type of trust excludes those funds from being included in the beneficiary’s financial assessment and allows them to retain eligibility for supplemental programs.
- Living Trust – A living trust is a trust created while you are alive that you control. Assets are placed in the trust for your control and are transferred to the person of your choice upon your death. Assets in a living trust typically do not have to go through probate.
- Testamentary Trust – A testamentary trust is a trust set up to be employed after your death. It is typically part of a will. Though it may not help to avoid probate, these can still be useful for planning purposes, such as when you want to make sure a child or grandchild doesn't get assets until a certain age or if you want them distributed over a number of years.
The experienced team at Stratton & Reynolds, LLC will sit down with you to discuss your needs and goals to help draft a trust that provides the greatest protection and provides the most secure future possible for your loved ones. Call our Lexington office today at (803) 358-7214 or fill out the brief contact form to learn more about how we can help you avoid probate and design a trust that is the perfect fit for your family.