Creating an estate plan allows you to protect your assets, provide for your loved ones after you pass away, and designate a guardian for your minor children. Many South Carolina residents do not have a last will and testament or any other estate plan. Taking time to create a will and trust based estate plan is worth the effort to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Whether you are interested in creating a comprehensive estate plan or need to update your will or trust, you will benefit from having an experienced attorney. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more.
The Benefits of Creating a Last Will and Testament
For many estate planners, creating a last will and testament is an affordable and simple way to protect their assets. In South Carolina, the testator who writes the will can provide for a spouse, children, friends, family members, and even pets by writing a will. In the will, the testator can also name a personal representative he or she trusts to oversee the process of transferring assets to the beneficiaries. Having a will isn’t legally required, but without a will, your assets will be distributed according to South Carolina intestacy laws. As a result, the beneficiaries you’ve chosen may still need to receive your assets.
Creating a will allows testators to appoint a guardian for their minor children. Without a will, you are trusting a judge to appoint someone to take care of your children after you’re gone. In addition to providing a way to direct your asset distribution after you pass away, you can also make a charitable gift in your will.
You can create trust in your will that will come into effect when you pass away or create a pet trust to provide for your pet’s care after your death. Working with an attorney to create a will is important. If your will is not legally valid, your beneficiaries could become entangled in court challenges. Ultimately, your assets may not be distributed to your selected beneficiary. An attorney can ensure that your will is legally valid, thorough, and meets your goals and needs.
Avoiding Probate with a Living Trust
A common goal of estate planning is to protect your hard-earned assets from creditors, excessive taxes, and lawsuits. By creating a trust and transferring your assets into the trust, your chosen beneficiaries can avoid going through the probate process. Even a relatively small estate can get caught up in the probate process for months. Beneficiaries will not be able to access assets in the estate.
Additionally, the probate process can be expensive for beneficiaries. When you create a trust, beneficiaries can access assets you’ve transferred into the trust quickly after you pass away, which can help them with funeral costs, loss of your income, and other immediate expenses. Trusts also help estate planners protect their assets.
Types of Trusts Available to South Carolina Estate Planners
There are many different types of trusts, and the best trust for your circumstances depends on your goals and needs. After carefully listening to your unique situation, one of the estate planning attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, will advise you on which type of trust is most beneficial for you. Each type of trust is designed for a particular purpose. Our attorneys have ended up knowledge related to many different types of trusts, including the following:
- Trusts for minors
- Special needs trusts
- Gun trusts
- Marital trusts
- Generation-skipping trusts
- IRA trusts
- Gift trusts
- Pet trusts
- Charitable remainder trusts
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT)
- Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trusts
- Spendthrift trusts
Inter vivos trusts, also called “living trusts” become effective during the creator’s lifetime. Living trusts are effective and flexible estate-planning tools. Living trusts are flexible because you can write the terms of the trust agreement to achieve nearly any of your estate-planning objectives.
Estate planners can keep control of their assets when they create living trusts. When you give assets to your beneficiaries outright in your last will and testament, they won’t have any control over the asset. Using a living trust, you can specify the terms of the trust agreement. As the trust’s creator, you can change the terms of the trust agreement or even entirely revoke the trust if it no longer meets your needs. You can also change the beneficiaries, which can be a valuable tool when you experience significant life changes.
Protecting Your Assets with a Revocable Living Trust
Creating a living trust also protects assets from certain creditors while alive. You can also protect your assets from a spendthrift beneficiary or his or her spouse. For example, if a beneficiary has a problem with drug abuse or gambling problem, you can include terms in the trust agreement that prevents her from spending all of the assets in the trust. You can also protect your assets should one of the beneficiaries get divorced.
The Benefits of Creating an Irrevocable Trust
In many respects, irrevocable trusts are similar to revocable trusts. Irrevocable trusts cannot be terminated or altered by the trust creator during his or her lifetime. In exchange, they provide greater asset protection from creditors than revocable trusts. For example, to qualify for long-term care insurance through Medicaid, you must show that you have little limited income and few assets. By transferring your assets into an irrevocable trust at least five years before you apply for Medicaid, you can protect your assets and preserve them for your beneficiaries.
Similarly, special needs trust protects assets for adults with special needs who must remain eligible for important public benefits. If you pass away and give your assets to your adult child with special needs outright, he or she may become ineligible for health insurance, housing assistance, and more. Creating a special needs trust allows your loved one to access funds for vacations, transportation, spending money, education, and other eligible expenses while protecting their benefits.
Discuss Your Case with a South Carolina Will and Trust Attorney
The will and trust attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, have helped thousands of individuals and families in Florence and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, protect themselves and their assets with will-based or trust-based estate planning services. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to schedule a free case evaluation.