Charleston Estate PlanningOur Charleston estate planning attorneys are frequently asked, “What is estate planning?”  Estate planning in Charleston, South Carolina is more than just having a simple will or a last will & testament.  Broadly defined, “estate planning” is the process of planning for the accumulation, conservation, and ultimate distribution of a persons assets.

Estate Planning Defined

The most popular definition of estate planning in South Carolina is the process of planning for the life-changing events of disability and death. This perspective also includes an emphasis towards estate tax reduction and avoiding probate. While this is a foundational perspective, our Charleston estate planning attorneys believe clients should also be mindful of the broader goals and purpose of estate planning.

Regardless of an individuals or family’s income level, estate planning is as important as holding policies for health or life insurance.  Estate planning may seem like an overwhelming and unnecessary undertaking for those with modest income and assets, but it does not need to be.  For more information, see our estate planning faqs page and our page on common estate planning questions asked by clients and prospective client throughout the years.

What Does Estate Planning Involve?

Goals of estate planning include, but are not limited to:

  • gauging whether lifetime goals are being pursued in the most direct and balanced way;
  • identifying opportunities to enhance and leverage personal and family situations;
  • providing an opportunity to create safeguards for the protection and preservation of assets;
  • identifying difficult areas or issues and providing opportunities to cure and resolve them now (rather than placing the burden on someone else later);
  • assuring family members that the appropriate mechanisms are in place for their future security; and
  • providing an orderly and fair means of managing and distributing property in case of disability or death.
Our Charleston estate planning attorneys provide legal counsel to individuals, families and businesses to facilitate inheritance processes, to encourage estate tax savings, to promote asset protection, to avoid probate, and to establish legal protections for client objectives.
Charleston estate planning, in the long run, costs little or next to nothing, and amounts to a present investment to provide current and future accumulation and conservation of assets through maximizing opportunities and lowering risk exposure, estate planning costs, probate, and unnecessary taxes.  Estate planning yields benefits for family and loved ones in the short-term and substantial long-term advantages when tragic life-altering events do arise.  In general, estate planning extends a persons intentions, values, patterns, and priorities to future circumstances in which he or she will not be able to actively participate. It produces a plan that will strengthen and preserve financial security and order for family and loved ones.

The Importance of Charleston Estate Planning

The primary motivation for many of our clients is the protection of their family and loved ones. Everyone understands that it is possible that a tragic life-changing event could happen at any time, such as illness, incapacity or even death. These tragedies are rarely predictable, but they are almost always inevitable. Many times these life-altering tragedies can bring about distress, chaos, anxiety and confusion among family members — not to mention the added burden of legal fees and involvement. Without a thoughtful, comprehensive estate plan, these life-changing events may fall under the discretion of court-appointed government agent rather than under the care and consideration of a family member or loved one.  A poorly constructed or hastily devised estate plan might also incur unnecessary administrative fees, frivolous court costs, probate, unnecessary attorney and accounting fees and avoidable taxes. Additionally, clients with a properly developed estate plan will have ensured their minor children are cared for by those who are best suited to provide the best home rather than letting a judge decide.

The South Carolina state legislature has established policies and procedures for estate administration in the event that an individual experiences physical or mental incapacity and becomes otherwise incapable of carrying typical estate duties. These statewide plans though rarely work for the benefit of a client. In many cases, the lack of an estate plan and the obligation to follow these state procedures can result in a costly and unpleasant process for a client and their family.

The most important lesson in any of these events is that clients should always be proactive when establishing an estate plan. Corrective or retroactive estate plans are an uncommon and difficult ordeal, which is why it is important to consider events such as inheritance, incapacity, asset protection, trust administration, guardianship or business succession ahead of time. Our attorneys offer guidance and legal expertise for the entirety of the planning process so that clients can focus on understanding, communicating and protecting their interests.

Free Estate Planning Consultation & Review

Our Charleston estate planning attorney, Reid Green, makes estate planning as easy and simple as possible for her clients.  Our law firm offers a free review of any estate planning documents currently in place and free consultations for those with questions about putting an estate plan in place.  Please call us at 843-564-5115 to schedule your consultation.