South Carolina parents who are creating an estate plan might want to consider using a trust instead of a will. A trust can offer a number of advantages and give a parent more control over how his or her assets are distributed.
A trust may be revocable or irrevocable depending on its purpose. Unlike a will, a trust is private, and assets from a trust may be distributed immediately instead of going through the probate process. However, one advantage of a trust is that assets do not necessarily have to be distributed right away, and, in some cases, it might be created to prevent this. Even adult children may be too immature to manage a large inheritance, so the trust might be set up so that they do not get a distribution until later. Alternately, they might receive small distributions at certain intervals. If the child has issues with creditors, the trust can keep assets protected from those creditors.
Children who have special needs may receive benefits from the government, and getting an inheritance through a will could make them ineligible for that assistance. However, a trust can still provide for a special needs child without him or her losing benefits. Trusts can also be set up to provide for long-term care, in-home nursing or nursing home assistance as the beneficiary ages.
Parents may want to consult an attorney to discuss what they need the trust to do and the type they should have. While an irrevocable trust may come with more restrictions, it can also offer greater protection. If distributions will be made at the trustee's discretion, that person needs to be someone who understands the family situation, can make good decisions and manage conflict. Some people may want to look into a charitable trust, which can benefit both charities and provide income to beneficiaries.