For fairly straightforward estates, a last will and testament may be sufficient for passing assets on to beneficiaries. However, some estate owners in South Carolina might want to consider a living trust, also known as a revocable trust. This estate planning vehicle has a number of advantages for people with larger estates or more complicated financial or family situations.
The estate owner retains control over the trust and the property that is placed in it. Property can be moved in and out of the trust without penalty. With a trust in place, the probate process can be largely avoided. Probate can be expensive and time-consuming, but one of the biggest advantages of avoiding probate with a trust is that it makes the estate plan private. Family members may use the details of an estate plan they are able to see as it passes through probate to challenge it.
It is generally a good idea to combine a revocable trust with what is known as a "pour over will." A pour over will essentially handles all assets that have not been titled and placed in the revocable trust. Assets that pass directly to a person via beneficiary designation bypass both wills and trusts.
An attorney may be able to help an estate owner create a revocable trust. Along with any other elements of the estate plan, the trust should be reviewed regularly to ensure that any changes in laws, assets or the family are reflected. For example, a person might remarry, beneficiaries may die or children could be born. Making sure the estate plan is up to date can be particularly important in blended families where there could otherwise be conflicts between stepparents and children.