Charleston Estate Planning Last Will & TestamentUnlike other estate planning mechanisms, the last will and testament can uniquely transfer all assets and property, effective after death. The last will and testament grants an individual the ability to select beneficiaries for estate assets and provide guidelines for the management of those assets. Without this legal document, the allocation of estate property and assets may not necessarily align with personal or family interests. Passing away with no last will and testament is referred to dying “intestate” and South Carolina has specific laws that govern the disposition of the estate:

  • If a spouse dies with no will and is survived by a spouse and children, the spouse will receive half of the estate property and assets and the children will receive the other half of estate property, even if they are minors.
  • The country probate court reserve full authority to appoint any person of its choosing to serve as the grantor’s personal representative, regardless even if this representative has no past experience with the grantor or family
  • When surviving children reach the age of 18, they may demand a full accounting from the spouse of all funds spent on their behalf and will also be an entitled to receiving a lump sum of their inheritance, regardless of personal maturity or financial responsibility
  • In the event that the surviving children are left without a guardian, the probate court has complete discretion to select a new guardian for the children
  • If the surviving spouse should remarry, the second spouse will be entitled to one third of the grantor’s inheritance and will have no legal obligation to to use this inheritance for the benefit of the surviving spouse or children.
The South Carolina Last Will & Testament may include the use of a simple or complex will as well as a testamentary trust. While the simple and complex wills both outline the disposition of an estate, the selection of an executor, the selection of heirs, and potential estate tax advantages, the testamentary trust allows for an inexpensive transfer of distribution and management of estate property beyod the lifetime of the grantor. Ultimately, the Last Will & Testament is a crucial legal document to ensure the proper disposition of an estate and protect the future care for loved ones or a business.
The creation of a simple will ensures that the many problems of passing away intestate will not be experienced. A simple will provides provisions for the disposition of estate property and assets, selection of personal representative to ensure the execution of the will once in effect, an assignment of future guardian(s) for surviving children, and outlined directions for the management of future estate planning and estate administration.

Although all the estate planning provisions of a simple are important, some alternate forms of the last will and testament, often referred to as complex wills, pose several unique advantages in the form of reduced estate taxes. A complex will can be particularly useful in the following circumstances:

  • If you would like to arrange for the disposition of your estate assets or wealth in a form other than a lump sum
  • If you wish to ensure provisions for the future care of a special needs child, children from a previous marriage, future generations or other important loved ones
  • If you wish to leave behind contribution to a non-profit organization via a charitable trust
  • If you are a business owner and a business makes up a part or your estate
  • If you expect some of your assets to accrue value over time

In any case, both simple wills and complex wills are indispensable estate planning vehicle to ensure the wellbeing of your family and business.