Many South Carolina residents work long and hard to give themselves financial security during their working years and beyond, which includes, hopefully, a long, healthy and happy retirement. People are living longer, and retirement living is becoming more costly. Moreover, unexpected medical expenses can eat up sizeable chunks of money. However, if it is anticipated that an individual’s estate assets will be considerable, estate planning becomes even more of a concern than it is for people with less property. Although a will can suffice as a means to designate which beneficiaries are to receive which estate assets, a trust can also do so but with more precision and control.
Even in the most basic of family scenarios, where a married couple has children, what happens to the couple’s estate when one of the spouse passes can become problematic. One option is to leave everything to the other spouse with the assumption that he or she will then split whatever is left among the children. However, the surviving spouse can thereafter remarry and, perhaps, have other children. The picture then becomes murkier. Financial advisors often suggest a trust can provide more flexibility than a will for many of the ‘what if” circumstances that may become a reality.
For instance, a trust can establish a life estate for the surviving spouse whereby he or she has the benefit of the estate’s assets while living but cannot alter the terms of the trust. Additionally, a trust can establish conditions that must occur before trust assets can be distributed. For instance, the age of a child; the accomplishment of a certain goal, such as graduation from college; or many other measurable events may be the trigger.
Important decisions are made in estate planning. An experienced estate planning lawyer can be of valuable assistance in formulating a specific, personal plan.