Charleston Estate Planning Questions

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning involves evaluating individual property and assets and deciding how to manage and transfer the ownership of these assets. Our Charleston Estate Planning Attorneys work to understand your objectives in the management and disposition of your estate in order to ensure that your estate best protects your interests and the interests of your loved ones.

What Should I Expect at the First Estate Planning Meeting?

The first estate planning meeting typically lasts between one and two hours. Our Charleston estate planning attorneys can meet at our offices, if convenient for you, or we can discuss meeting with you an alternative and more convenient venue, such as your home or office. In the first meeting, you should be prepared to discuss inventory or your personal property and assets as well as your personal objectives in planning for your estate. You should complete our firm’s estate planning questionnaire prior to the first estate planning conference. This questionnaire provides our estate planning attorneys with the preliminary information necessary to address and discuss a number of important estate planning matters. Our attorneys will likely be able to offer you with an estate of fees and costs associated with establishing your estate plan by the end of the first meeting.

What Are Estate Taxes and how do they work?

Estate taxes are more formerly recognized as wealth transfer taxes. These taxes are assessed on the transfer of wealth from one person to another after one’s passing. There is only one estate tax bracket now (2016), that being 40%.  The estate tax applies to everything you own from cash and CDs to your home, your valuables, guns, sports equipment, vehicles, golf cart, boat, life insurance, etc.  Essentially, if you own it, it is part of your estate.

What are Gift Taxes?

Gift taxes are taxes associated with the transfer of wealth and assets during ones lifetime. The gift tax is established to prevent someone from transfer the entirety of their wealth and assets while living to avoid paying for estate taxes. Everything is subjected to a gift tax save one key exception. This exception is that you may give as many people as you like up to $14,000 a year. Additionally, if you are married, you can give away $28,000.

How Much Money Can Be Transferred without Requiring Estate Taxes?

In 2016, the maximum amount it $5,450,000.  This amount is adjusted annually and was originally $5,000,000 in 2011 and has risen over the last four years.  Any amount over $5,450,000 is subject to a 40% estate tax rate.

Can I Make a Gift Over $14,000 in One Year?

Yes.  For example, if you wanted to give your son $100,000 to purchase a business, you would write a check for $100,000.  There is potentially no income tax on the gift to him.  However, you would be required to file a gift tax return reporting your $100,000 gift.  The gift would become part of your permanent record with the IRS.  $14,000 of the fit would qualify for the annual exclusion amount and you use up $86,000 worth of your lifetime $5,000,000 (as adjusted) gift tax exclusion.

How can estate wealth and assets transfer after one’s lifetime?

The wealth, assets and property of an estate either transfer directly to the beneficiary through a revocable living trust or they transfer indirectly through a Last Will & Testament after one’s lifetime, provided that this person has establish a will prior to their passing. A proper Will, having been accepted by South Carolina Probate Court, will then often undergo the probate process which involves the filing of the will, assessing the inventory of estate assets, and filing other necessary court papers. If no will exists, then wealth, assets and property will be disbursed based on South Carolina intestate laws rather than according to the wishes of the grantor.