While most estate owners in South Carolina probably have heard of wills and trusts, some may not understand the difference between the two. Trusts can help individuals manage their assets while they are alive. On the other hand, wills dictate how assets are disbursed after the creator dies. In some cases, a will can contain instructions to transfer assets into a trust when an individual passes. The level of control one retains over a trust depends on what type of document is created.
Terms of a revocable trust can be altered by the person created it. However, an irrevocable trust usually cannot be changed unless all of the beneficiaries agree with the decision to do so. One potential benefit of an irrevocable trust is that assets inside of it are usually beyond the grasp of creditor claims. Assets that are held in any type of a trust can also avoid probate.
Anything that happens in a probate court may be reviewed by members of the media, other family members or other interested parties. This means that anyone could potentially know how much a person was worth at the time of his or her death. It may also be possible for an entity to find out who a deceased person’s beneficiaries were. By avoiding probate, it’s often easier to keep an individual’s financial information a secret.
It may be a good idea for an individual to speak with an attorney to determine what kinds of trusts should be created. In some cases, it’s a good idea to create a will that pours assets into a trust. Depending on what a person owns, it may be possible to avoid probate or minimize estate taxes by using beneficiary designations or making gifts.