Estate Attorney in South Carolina

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An estate attorney helps develop an adequate plan that takes the responsibility off your family of others when you pass.

What is an Estate Attorney?

The surprising thing about when anyone passes away is the amount of bureaucracy involved in the business of death. In many cases your friends and family are left with the burden of dealing with this unfamiliar paperwork. It would therefore be wise to appoint an estate attorney to understand what you want, and to put into language so that the legal system can honor your wishes.

The role is to add up your assets to determine your net worth. This would include property and land, plus personal property like bank accounts, insurances etc, and household items including vehicles or anything of value. There could be complications if anything is jointly owned, and you may also want to share something with more than one person. Basically we identify all the assets to determine what you have to your name.

Like most lawyers, to practice this type of law you have to obtain a degree, and pass the bar exam for the state you wish to practice in. They need to know all the intricacies of Wills, and be able to offer advice on what it can provide and what options are available, and even if you think your assets are easy to understand, it is worth getting this advice to make sure everything is accounted for.

Engaging such a lawyer may seem unnecessary at first, but in most cases they will open your eyes to things you were not aware of and can be very helpful in the long run. The laws surrounding inheritance can be a minefield on your own, so having someone to guide you will allow you to be confident that your assets are going to the right people and that they are not burdened unnecessarily.

There may be federal taxes that apply, but it is state law that determines what goes into a Will to make it valid. Your lawyer must have full understanding of the federal and state laws that affect you and your case, and update documents when you move to a new state. Practicing out of Charleston means we have knowledge of the state laws in South Carolina as well as federal law and taxes, but we are also aware of other states and their different laws.

Creditors have many ways to lay claim on your assets, and insurers have a million ways to wriggle out of full payments, so appointing an estate attorney would give you peace of mind knowing that you have made sure there are no surprises once you are gone.

Estate Lawyer FAQs

Assets and Plans

What is estate planning?

This is the process of arranging your affairs to give to loved ones when you pass away. Everyone needs a plan, even if you have few assets, because it’s your opportunity to dictate what happens with your money, property, and other items. If you don’t create one, the state will dictate what happens with your stuff.
Typically they include wills, titling deeds, naming a power of attorney, and often setting up a trust.

What happens when a loved one passes away?

The will should be submitted to the probate court and then you follow the court’s instructions. This requires the personal representative to account for all the property, allow a period for creditors to make claims, pay any outstanding bills, file estate taxes, and various other tasks. When everything is complete, the court will allow the personal representative to distribute the assets of the estate.

If there is a trust, the items named pass according to its terms, and that can happen much quicker. Often people have estate assets that will pass through probate and then some assets in a trust, so both tools are used. Titling property the correct way can also expedite and simplify the process.

Wills and Trusts

Do I need a will?

Yes, you do. In South Carolina, if you pass away without one – then your assets are distributed according to state statutes, not your wishes. If you are married, for example, then half your estate goes to your spouse and the other half goes to your children. Additionally, a document will allow you to determine who cares for minor children if you die, set instructions for your funeral, and gift who receives your personal belongings.

What is the difference between a will and a trust?

A will simply distributes your estate assets when you have passed. They must go through the probate court, and essentially tell the court who should get what when you die.

A trust is a different instrument altogether. Sure it communicates who gets what after your death, but the key difference is that it does not go through probate. Immediately on your death, everything mentioned goes to the named beneficiaries. They also distribute assets quicker and there are no probate fees (which in South Carolina are large).

Meet George Fowler, Your Estate Attorney in Charleston SC

image of estate attorney George Fowler
George will help you make the most effective decisions when planning for the future and when dealing with someone’s estate after their death.

George, a graduate of University of Missouri and of University of Missouri School of Law, joined Henderson & Henderson law firm in October 2020. He remembers:

A new mom from Charleston came to us with questions about who would take care of her kids if something happened to her and her husband. She wasn’t sure where to start but wanted to make sure she was well prepared. We reviewed and explained all the options so we could help her make the best decisions for her family. The entire process took less than a month and we walked through everything from a will to a trust to healthcare power of attorney, with our full understanding of the laws in South Carolina.

Learn more about estate planning, about George Fowler, and contact him for any question.

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