If you are making choices in Charleston about what to do with everything you own after your death, and your other affairs that should be wrapped up at that time, you are in the process of "estate planning."
You will typically need to seek the help of a professional with legal and/or financial expertise when in the process of estate planning. Simple mistakes in an estate plan can cause severe problems, including legal and personal conflicts between your survivors.
While planning your estate, there are a few frequent issues that most people should consider. One big one is the decision relating to power of attorney, which is an arrangement where you give one person the power to make legally-binding decisions on your behalf. You can set up an agreement telling your representative clearly what power they have, what you want them to do, and when the power will vest (normally, if and when you become unable to make your own decisions).
The last thing a person wants to think about is the possibility that, after their death, their survivors are fighting over some part of their estate plan that's ambiguous or otherwise contentious. If you want to prevent this, or at least make it far less likely, you should have the help of a Charleston attorney every step of the way.
Common Features of Charleston Estates
Will: A will is often the central component of an estate plan. It is a legal document which says what is to be done with a person's assets after they die. It normally involves giving money and property to the testator's close family members, friends, and sometimes charitable organizations.
Living Will: Unlike ordinary wills, a living will contains instructions concerning a person's medical care. Some recent high-profile controversies have illustrated the importance of making a living will, even for younger people. In a living will, you can give your family members and doctors instructions about your desired medical care, in case you become incapacitated (comatose or brain-dead, for example) and can't tell them yourself. Some people say that they would not want to be kept alive by artificial means if they are in a vegetative state, and there's no chance of recovery. If this is you, that's definitely something to include in a living will. Of course, if you would prefer the opposite, being kept alive as long as is medically allowed, you can put that in your living will, as well.
Power of Attorney: Power of attorney allows you to grant someone else (normally a trusted family member or friend) the power to make certain decisions in your place, with the same legal effect as if you had made them yourself, in the event that you become unable to do so (normally due to mental or physical incapacity). If you decide to give someone power of attorney, you should make your wishes known to them in advance, so they are more likely to make the same decisions that you would make, if you were able to. And, of course, you should only give this authority to someone with whom you would trust your life because that is, in some cases, just what you're doing.
Funeral Arrangements: Whatever your preference on this matter (if you have a preference) you should make it known to your family both verbally and in writing. If you have very specific wishes concerning the final disposition of your mortal remains, you should not put those instructions in your will. Or, if you do, you should also put them somewhere else. Wills are usually not read for quite some time after a person dies, and the funeral is normally long over by then, so it will be too late to follow your instructions.
Do I Need a Charleston Estates Lawyer?
A brilliant estates lawyer in Charleston can make the estate planning process much easier. He or she can maximize the chances of your wishes being given effect. Additionally, a good and clear estate plan is far less likely to result in litigation in the future, since disputes of this nature are almost always the result of ambiguity.