Ideally, a South Carolina resident will form an estate plan before they become ill or pass away. However, it can be difficult to bring up the subject of money or a person's mortality. Regardless of who starts the conversation, it should be brought up in a gentle and respectful manner. Instead of focusing on uncomfortable subjects like death or taxes, it may be best for parents to talk to their kids about their financial values.
People in South Carolina who have a revocable trust that they want to revoke should take certain steps to ensure that their wishes are carried out. For example, two parents wanted to cancel their revocable trust, in which they had placed their estate that was worth $2 million, and they wondered whether a handwritten letter of revocation would be sufficient.
There are several reasons why a South Carolina resident may procrastinate on creating an estate plan. For instance, it can be uncomfortable to talk about death with family members and potential heirs. The cost of an estate plan may also be a roadblock. However, those who have not yet created their estate plan are advised to do so as soon as possible.
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.
With the majority of families in South Carolina deviating from "traditional" (opposite-sex married partners with biological children), estate planning can become more complicated. People might have to consider whether or not their biological children and stepchildren will inherit similar amounts. Cohabiting couples might lack the same legal rights as legally married couples in the event of incapacity or death. Their estate plans would need to address issues that the law might not automatically cover. Modern developments in estate planning legal tools and language have emerged to help people in nontraditional families introduce flexibility into their plans and avoid unintentionally excluding loved ones.
It may be easier for special needs individuals to retain access to government services if their assets are held in a trust. However, it is important that their South Carolina parents carefully structure the trust so that it is exempt from income and resource rules. Special needs trusts must irrevocable, for the benefit of only one person and can only pay for medical or dental needs not provided by other sources.
About two out of three households in South Carolina and around the country own a pet. Many people see their companion animals as cherished members of the family. Pets may be placed in shelters when their owners die, and they are often euthanized if they are not adopted. Adding pet provisions to a will is not a solution to this dilemma because a will provides no ongoing control over how animals are treated. It could also be several months before a will is probated.
There are no shortages of reasons why many South Carolina residents fail to complete the estate plan the vast majority of them fully understand they should and intend to establish. Of course, there is the uncomfortable thought of dealing with one's own mortality, but sooner or later everyone needs to confront that reality. And for many, there are difficult decisions or perhaps no good choices when it comes to dividing up assets among beneficiaries. But it's also true there is simply a common lack of understanding regarding what purpose individual estate planning documents serve and how they work together to protect the individual's interests.
Some people in South Carolina might be considering using a trust as part of their estate plan. A spendthrift trust can help ensure that assets are protected against a beneficiary's irresponsible spending. It can also protect assets against creditors.
A trust can be a powerful tool in an estate plan by protecting assets from creditors or in a divorce. When shares of a family business are placed in a trust, the voting rights are held by the trustee instead of the beneficiaries. This may help ensure that votes are made with the good of all beneficiaries in mind instead of the self-interest of just one person. Some people in South Carolina may want to build their estate plan around a trust, but it is important to have the right trustee.