Estate Planning for FamilyEstate planning for the family requires understanding individual ownership of assets, creating an eventual plan for how to apportion those assets, and figuring out how the allocation of assets will affect other family members and loved ones. With the recent increase in the federal estate tax exemption laws and portability, our Charleston estate planning attorneys are now able to execute the interests of clients in estate planning for the family now better than ever.

While many new clients to estate planning might be inclined to believe that a simple will can constitute a sufficient estate plan, contemporary estate planning for the family requires more detailed examination. Different types of trusts, such as revocable trusts, insurance trusts or charitable trusts, are important estate planning vehicles for alterable wills, spousal insurance trust agreements, and continued philanthropic involvement after passing.  Thus, the majority of our new estate planning clients who are planning for their family will want the benefits of something more than just a simple will.

Failure to Create a Last Will & Testament

If you pass away with no will, you are forfeiting your ability to select the beneficiaries of your assets. In other words, without a will, your property and assets will be divided up according to state law guidelines and may not necessarily be in accordance with your personal wishes. Passing away with no Last Will & Testament is referred to dying “intestate” and Illinois has laws that govern who is to receive your estate.

  • If a husband dies with no will and is survived by a wife and children, the wife receives half and the children receive the other half;
  • If a married person dies with no and has no children, his or her entire estate passes to his or her spouse;
  • If a person dies with no will and no spouse is survived by their children, the children will receive the estate in equal shares;
  • If a single person dies with no children and now will, his or her estate will passes to his or her parent(s) and, if there are none, then to their siblings in equal shares.

Keep in mind that not all assets pass under the South Carolina intestate rules.  Many assets pass to joint owners (i.e., a joint checking account) or beneficiaries (i.e., insurance or an IRA) and do not pass according to the South Carolina intestate rules.

While estate planning is not mandated by any state or federal laws, wise estate planning can create significant tax reduction benefits and ensure long-term asset protection. Estate planning for the family can also be useful to avoid probate, saving individuals and families a lengthy and costly battle with the probate court.