Estate planning is an important step for everyone. Regardless of the complexity of your estate, the assets you have worked so hard to accumulate should go to the people who deserve them. With the help of an attorney, every person should develop a comprehensive estate plan that meets their needs and the needs of their families. Equipped with testamentary documents, including a will and various trust options, your estate can be cared for according to your goals, leaving your family free of uncertainty and the ability to focus on healing. Though it is a difficult conversation to have, it is a significant one. The right attorney should provide a comforting environment in which to do so. Carr Law Firm, LLC provides knowledgeable and compassionate legal support to those who are ready to take this step. For a consultation with our dedicated estate planning attorney, contact Carr Law Firm, LLC.
A trust is simply a document created to hold legal title to assets for the benefit of a beneficiary, and those assets are managed by a trustee. Why is a trust so common in estate planning? When you pass away, even with a will, a court has to make sure title to your property gets transferred to the right people. That long, stressful process is called probate. However, creating a trust can get ahead of this process by transferring those assets in the name of a trust long before someone passes. The person who creates the trust can maintain complete control over the assets as trustee and make changes or revoke the trust entirely at any time. When they do pass away, their named successor trustee(s) is able to take control over the trust and distribute the trust assets to the successor beneficiary(s) almost immediately. When done correctly, because the assets in the trust are considered "non-probate assets," the probate process is avoided entirely.
A Last Will & Testament is probably the most important document a person can execute in their lifetime. Simply put, a will declares your wishes for your possessions after you pass. With a will, you can pass almost anything to a beneficiary, from small items of sentimental value, to real estate, to investments, and more. In addition, a person can state wishes surrounding burial and cremation, nominate a guardian for minor children, and appoint a caretaker for pets. A person who dies without a will (intestate) opens an estate to the arbitrary mechanism of a South Carolina court as it allocates possessions, which may not be the way they would have wanted. In addition, dying intestate opens one’s family up to the uncertainty of the courts and the possibility of infighting.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney (financial) is one of the most basic and most powerful estate planning tools. It is a legal document where you, the "Principal," appoint another person, an "Agent," to act on your behalf in your financial affairs, including if you become incapacitated. The Power of Attorney can be all-encompassing in scope, or can be limited to certain transactions, like signing a mortgage, selling real estate, or paying taxes. It should only be entrusted to a person or persons who you can trust will appropriately exercise discretion and act in your best interests, especially when you may not be able to adequately fight for yourself.
Health Care Proxies
Also called a Health Care Power of Attorney, Healthcare Proxy documents appoint another person, your "Health Care Agent," to make health care decisions on your behalf if you can no longer make them yourself. A health care proxy can help make sure that health care providers follow your wishes during your treatment. Your proxy can also make decisions about how those wishes apply as your medical condition changes. A key benefit to appointing a health care proxy is that it limits potential disagreements between your family members about your care and their interpretation of your wishes.
A Living Will is an important piece of any estate plan. Despite the similar name, a Living Will is very different from a Last Will. A Living Will is a health care document that specifies your wishes regarding receiving artificial nutrition and hydration if you are ever deemed to be in one of two conditions: a persistent vegetative state or having a terminal illness likely to result in death in a short period of time. Unlike a Health Care Proxy, no agent is appointed to make decisions on your behalf. These are simply your wishes in these two specific circumstances. We recommend having both a Health Care Proxy and a Living Will done as they complement each other but accomplish different tasks.
Contact the Carr Law Firm, LLC
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201 Sigma Drive
Summerville, SC 29486
1156 Bowman Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
6650 Rivers Avenue
North Charleston, SC 29406
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