Many people hear the words “estate planning” and are not really sure what to think, so first, it is important to understand just what is meant by the term. Estate planning refers to the preparation of a plan of administration and disposition of one’s property before or after death through wills, trusts, gifts and power of attorney. It can also include strategies used to direct property to the proper beneficiaries, to minimize tax liability and other costs and to arrange for property management in the event of physical or mental disability.
So why do people need to take estate planning seriously? Estate planning is necessary to avoid dying “intestate”. Dying intestate means dying without having created either a will or a trust, which provides instructions for passing your estate on to your heirs. Dying intestate means that your property may have a harder time passing to your rightful heirs because unintended heirs such as probate, creditors, con-artists, lawsuits, judgments and death taxes can greatly damages the value of your estate. It is important to take precautions and plan accordingly to ensure that the assets are distributed how you want them to be. After all, nobody can know your wishes as well as you can.
Even if there has been no formal estate planning, all property owners have done some planning for the distribution of their estate to their heirs whether they realize it or not. Without a will or a trust the applicable section of the SC Code will determine how your property will pass to your heirs. Oftentimes the state’s formula and rules for moving assets to your heirs will not be what you would have chosen if you had taken the time to come in and decide on your own estate plan.
The best way to overcome South Carolina’s laws of intestacy is by meeting with an experienced estate planning attorney who can guarantee that your property is taken care of how you want. Miller|Conway are Goose Creek lawyers who provide estate planning solutions for Goose Creek, Monck’s Corner, and the greater Charleston area. Please feel free to give us a call at 843.764.3334 for a free consultation.