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How to Prepare a South Carolina Will

How to Prepare a South Carolina Will

For South Carolina residents the foundation of any estate plan should be the preparation of a Last Will and Testament. Without a Will your estate will be distributed according to the law of intestacy - which means the State will direct who takes your property. With a Will you can specifically direct who will inherent from your estate.

The actual process to prepare a will is relatively straightforward once you have planned for how you want your estate handled. In the most basic plan you will direct that all of your assets will go to one person (usually a spouse) and then if they die before you do then they will go to someone else (usually your children). If your children are young it is a good idea to consider if you want to implement what is called a pour over trust and have their inheretence held for them by someone you trust (called a trustee) until they reach an age that you select.

You can however provide for any number of people to potentially inherent, and there is no requirement that they be related to you by either blood or marriage. In addition you should plan on who will be the personal representative (South Carolina's term for executor) and whether or not you want them to be required to purchase an insurance bond. By default the Court will require that a bond be purchased for most estates, and by specifying that such is not required you can save your estate hundreds or thousands of dollars.

Many of the issues to be covered are not addressed in the self-help websites and books you see advertised. Although you may think you are saving $100 or $200 by using such a service rather than consulting with a licensed attorney the risks far outweigh the prospective savings. Additionally you should be aware that preparing a Will has been determined to be the practice of law in South Carolina and if you are involved in procurring or preparing a Will for someone else the Probate Court may not consider it valid AND you could potentially face civil or criminal penalties. Also the self-help services do not include the help you will need to properly execute your will in compliance with South Carolina law - include the independent witnesses and the notary.

To begin the process of planning for your South Carolina Last Will and Testament you should decide who you would want to inherent and what you would like for them to inherent. If you decide that you want all of your property going to one person, or split among several, you may not need to specify each item in your Will. You also should determine who you would like to be the Personal Representative and at least one backup person in case your first choice cannot serve for any reason. Your Personal Representative can also be someone who you plan on inhereting from your estate.

Once you have this basic information you should make an appointment with an attorney to review your plan and discuss the specifics of your situation. If your attorney determines that your estate may be considered taxable by the IRS or the South Carolina Department of Revenue there are additional considerations and it may be advisable to coordinate with a tax attorney for those specific issues.

In my office I am typically able to help most people whose estate plans can be satisfied through a straightforward or Simple Will in a single visit. The cost for most Wills does not exceed $250 - and in the same visit we can also discuss whether or not a living will, healthcare power of attorney or a durable power of attorney would be beneficial. To schedule an appointment to prepare your Will contact my office at 1-888-304-2418.


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