If anyone can appreciate the need for prior planning, it’s teachers. Having a will and an estate plan places you in control of your assets and how they are used after you are gone. While most people know they need a will and estate plan, most people don’t have estate planning documents.
What are the Benefits of an Estate Plan?
- Leave your assets to the people you want,
- Better protect your assets,
- Avoid Probate and government intrusion into your estate,
- Reduce taxes,
- Designate fiduciaries to care for your property and loved ones (kids),
- Understand non-probate v. probate property,
- Create a Health Care Power of Attorney, and
- Decide if you want a Living Will.
Elements of An Estate Plan
Most estate plans consider the following elements: wills, trust, non-probate property, and healthcare directives. There are many tools and more complex schemes, but this is the framework. It is essential that all work together to help you achieve your goals. For example, your Will might govern who will take care of your children and what to do with certain personal property. If you have a trust, it might own other property and dictate how it’s distributed upon your death. Alongside your Wills and Trusts are non-probate items, such as IRAs and Life Insurance. Each estate plan is highly customizable based on the needs of each person and/ or family.
A will allows you to determine how your property will be distributed after death, who will care for minor children, and provide an opportunity for you to communicate your wishes. They often work with other elements of your estate plan.
Trusts are great tools designed to give you total control over your assets and how they are used when you are gone. The South Carolina Trust Code, sections 62-7-101 to 62-7-1106 of the South Carolina Code Annotated, governs South Carolina Trusts. There are various types of trusts, so it is important to understand your options before drafting trust documents.
Having a living will and assigning a healthcare power of attorney helps you control what happens in the case of unforeseen medical events. These documents can simply tough questions so your loved ones don’t have to guess. They are important not only for you, but for those you love.
Nonprobate property passes outside of the estate. It could include life insurance policies or property held as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship. It’s important to identify nonprobate property and make sure the correct beneficiaries are named.
Special Note for Teacher’s Retirement and Pensions
In South Carolina, teachers are automatically enrolled in the state’s pension system. In order to qualify for those retirement benefits, you must be 65 or older with at least five years of service or any age with 28 years of service. This valuable pension plan will take care of you in your well-deserved retirement. But who will take care of your family after you die?
Estate planning, especially for South Carolina teachers, is a wonderful gift to your loved ones and a way to ensure your wishes are honored. As a teacher, you build up local communities and generate the leaders of tomorrow each and everyday, so let Henderson & Henderson build up and generate a plan to take care of you, your family, and your estate.
To set up your estate plan, contact our office at 843-212-3188 or email us.