Ignorance is bliss when it comes to thinking about death, right? The truth of the matter is that death is an inevitable fact of life. The creation of a last will and testament may help ease some of the anxiety surrounding the idea of your passing.
According to a 2017 survey, 60 percent of Americans will die without a will.1 A will is the only way to ensure your wishes are fulfilled post-mortem, whether it’s designating your personal belongings to family members or transitioning assets if you own a business. Without a will, your surviving assets will be governed by South Carolina statute, and the division of your property is determined by the law of intestacy, which favors close relatives.2
Creating a will also allows you to name an executor, or a person you trust that has “the authority to ensure that all your wishes are carried out and that all of your affairs are in order.”3 This can range from paying for the funeral to paying off debt.
A will offers customization and specifications pertinent to your particular circumstances, and when you create a will, you have the opportunity to:
- Name and prioritize which heirs will share your property.
- Designate the precise fraction of property each heir will be entitled to.
- Leave specific pieces of property to specific heirs.
- Allot property to whomever you choose, including, but not limited to, distant relatives, friends, and charity organizations.
- Make gifts to beneficiaries requiring that they survive you or survive another beneficiary.
- Transform gifts to trusts, allowing an appointed trustee to administer assets to the designated heir. Trusts prevent beneficiaries from using their inheritances impulsively or foolishly.
- Arrange the final disposal of property jointly-owned by you and your spouse. While intestate law dictates the property be immediately passed on to the surviving spouse, a will can provide further instruction after the death of the second spouse.
- Designate an estate representative and explicitly state said representative’s powers and responsibilities regarding the estate.
- Appoint a trusted guardian of your choosing to care for a surviving minor child or incapacitated family member. You may also choose to dictate a conservator to manage the inheritance of such persons.
The aforementioned list is only a glimpse at the various benefits of having a last will and testament. South Carolina intestate law places a heavy blanket of oversimplification on a complex, delicate matter. You are the only person who can understand the complete workings of your relationships and their dynamics.
Life, and its end, is full of unpredictability. Maintain control of your future and the future of those you care about by drafting a will. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at Bannister, Wyatt, & Stalvey today.