You have probably been told how important it is to create an estate plan, or at least to execute a Last Will and Testament. If, despite being told how important it is, you have yet to create and estate plan it may be because you don’t understand why it is so important. Once you have a better understanding of what will happen to your property if you die without a Will or trust in South Carolina you will likely decide it is time to work on your estate plan.
People frequently make the mistake of believing that they their estate is not large enough to warrant bothering with even a Last Will and Testament. The size or value of your estate, however, does not matter when it comes to estate planning. Everyone over the age of 18 should have at least a Will in place. If you die without a valid Will or trust in place the South Carolina intestate succession laws will dictate how your estate assets are handled.
Because the State of South Carolina does not want ambiguity with regard to ownership of property, the state uses intestate succession laws to decide who will inherit property when a decedent died without a Will or trust in place. All estate assets that are required to go through probate will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws. Precisely who inherits your property depends on who survives your death. Typically, your spouse and/or descendants are first in line, followed by parents and then siblings.
Regardless of how small your estate is, almost everyone dies owning something. Whether your property consists of household furnishings, a vehicle, a doll collection, or a modest stock portfolio, these are all things your property. As such, you likely wish to decide what happens to them when you die. Allowing the intestate succession laws to dictate how your assets are handled, however, takes control away from you and gives it to the State of South Carolina. Moreover, consider some other unwanted consequences of dying without a Will or trust:
Friends, more distant relatives (such as a favorite niece), and charities will receive nothing from your estate.
Family heirlooms may be given to someone you would never had chosen.
Assets may have to be sold in order to create the required distribution according to the intestate succession laws.
An estranged spouse could inherit everything if you have yet to legally divorce.
If you have minor children, a guardian will have to be appointed and any inheritance will be likely be managed by that guardian. Dying without a Will means you have no say in who that guardian will be.
If you are now ready to create your estate plan, contact the experienced South Carolina estate planning attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.