Estate planning has several purposes. Primarily, an estate plan is your wishes for the distribution of your assets upon your death. Assets can include your home, car, furniture, family heirlooms, and money. While the distribution of assets is the primary focus of an estate plan, estate plans are intimately personal. For example, your estate plan can establish your wishes for who to care for your minor children upon you and/or your spouse’s deaths. Estate plans can also direct who would care for your pet if your pet was to outlive you. Estate planning is about peace of mind knowing that you have made a difficult time for your loved ones easier by providing them with clear directions for the distribution of your estate.
Simple estate planning includes several documents: a will, a durable power of attorney, a health care power of attorney, and advanced directives. Each of these documents, while acting independently, work together to make sure your wishes are fulfilled immediately before and after your death. A will is a document that directs the distribution of your assets after your death. A will must be executed by you, the testator, with a signature as well as other conditions required by the law of South Carolina. A durable power of attorney allows another person of your choosing, known as an agent, “step into your shoes” to manage your finances if you are incapacitated physically or mentally. By executing a durable power of attorney, you can give your agent as much or as little authority as you choose over your assets. A healthcare power of attorney allows someone of your choosing, known as your agent, to make decisions regarding your medical treatment if you are unable to make decisions for yourself due to a physical or mental infirmity. You can give your agent as much or as little authority as you choose. A healthcare power of attorney makes a difficult time for your loved ones much easier because you have picked an agent to make decisions for you and discussed what treatment you would or would not want to receive. This removes any doubt from loved ones as they know your wishes are being carried out. An advanced directive, sometimes referred to as a living will, makes your wishes about certain medical treatments such as the provision of nutrition known before you are physically or mentally unable to express your wishes.
Above all things, an estate plan must be tailored to every person because we are all different people with different goals and diverse backgrounds. My firm offers free consultations on estate planning. My firm often uses a flat fee structure for simple estate planning. Call me a Charleston, SC estate planning lawyer today for your free consultation on your estate plan.
The death of a loved one is a very difficult time. However, in the uncertainty and grief following the death of a loved one, often the financial and legal aspects of a person’s death are overlooked. After the death of the decedent, the decedent’s estate begins the complex and lengthy process of probate. Probating an estate is a legal procedure in which the final wishes of the decedent are fulfilled, identifying any assets of the decedent, settling any debts of the decedent, transferring assets to the beneficiaries of the estate, paying any taxes owed by the estate, defending any claims against the estate, and litigating any claims the estate may have against other entities. If you were appointed to be the Executor of the estate in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, your loved one has asked you to probate their estate. If the decedent left behind a trust as part of his or her estate, you might also find yourself appointed to be the trustee of that trust. Having an experienced estate planning attorney by your side throughout the probate and/or trust administration process will ensure that your rights are protected and that you fulfill your duties and responsibilities to the decedent and the estate properly.
If you have been appointed as an executor of a will, contact our Charleston office today for a free consultation on the administration of the probate process.