In South Carolina, "estate planning" broadly refers to the process through which someone decides what is to be done with their assets after death.
The first step in any estate plan is to figure out what you actually want to be done with your assets after your death. This is a very personal decision, and you should discuss it with your family, and others who might have a direct interest in your decisions. As for actually implementing your goals, you should probably speak with a legal and/or financial professional to figure out the best way to accomplish these objectives.
In addition to decisions concerning the disposition of your property, you should decide how you want to spend your final days. For example, many people have a strong preference about whether and to what extent they'd like to be kept alive by artificial means. Whatever your preference on this matter is, you should make it clear to the people who will be positioned to make such decisions for you, if you are unable.
A qualified estate planner in South Carolina may also help you maximize the percentage of your assets that go to your chosen beneficiaries, by minimizing the impact of taxes and court fees. Furthermore, preventing a will or other estate plan from being litigated in court will save your survivors an incalculable amount of time, money, and energy - and the better an estate plan is, the lower its chances of ending up in court.
Common Elements of Estates in South Carolina
Estate plans in South Carolina almost always have these features:
Will: A will is a written instrument stating what you want to be done with your assets after you die. There are many problems that can come up in the drafting of a will. However, because the will doesn't have any legal or practical effect until after the person who made it died, they can't exactly correct these problems when they become apparent. Therefore, quality drafting, usually with the assistance of a good attorney, is essential.
Power of Attorney: This is an arrangement that gives another person the power to make certain decisions, usually related to finances and medical care, on your behalf, if you become incapacitated or disabled, and therefore unable to make or express your own decisions. You can choose who you give this power to. For obvious reasons, it should be somebody you trust.
Funeral Arrangements: Your wishes on this matter should be made clear to whoever is in a position to implement them early on in the estate planning process, and should not be included in a will. Because a will is often read days or weeks after the person dies, it may be too late by then to carry your wishes out.
Do I Need a South Carolina Estate Planning Attorney?
Because these decisions are so important in South Carolina, it's almost never a bad idea to seek the counsel of an experienced wills, trusts, and estates attorney.
Interesting Facts About South Carolina
South Carolina is located in the "deep south" of the U.S. and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east. One of the 13 original colonies, it was the first to separate from the Union and served as the founding state for the Confederate States. Today South Carolina is an important hub of social and economic activity. "Carolina" comes from the Latin word "Carolus", meaning Charles, a reference to a British king.
The capital of South Carolina is Columbia. The capitol building is called "The State House" and is where the legislature creates state laws. The University of South Carolina School of Law is also located in Columbia. South Carolina is noted for its extensive legal history, particularly in the area of alcohol laws. For example, South Carolina is the first U.S. state requiring mandatory videotaping by a police officer administering a breathalyzer test or making a DUI arrest.
South Carolina's judicial branch consists of the Circuit Court level, the intermediate level Court of Appeals, and the state Supreme Court. There are also minor courts below the Circuit Court level. Most trials are processed at the Circuit Court level. South Carolina's Circuit Court system is somewhat unique in that they have limited powers to hear some appeals.
Many lawyers in South Carolina are members of local bar associations in addition to the South Carolina Bar. The South Carolina Bar has over 13,500 members. South Carolina lawyers provide assistance in all types of legal claims and disputes.