+ I DON'T OWN ANYTHING. WHY DO I NEED A WILL?
You own more than you think. And you will acquire more things and property as you get older and progress through life. By executing a Last Will and Testament, you can control where your assets and property will go after you die, rather than leaving it up to the laws of the State of South Carolina. A Will is a legal document containing instructions to be carried out after you die, including your choice of guardian for your children, the beneficiaries of your assets, and who will serve as your estate’s Personal Representative.
If you do not have a Will, when you die, your assets will be distributed according to law: one-half to your surviving spouse, one-half to your surviving children – or, if you have none, to your parents, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, or other relatives. Friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, domestic partners, and favorite charities will receive nothing. If you die with no living relatives, the State of South Carolina will be the beneficiary of your estate.
+ DOES A WILL COVER EVERYTHING I OWN?
No. Generally speaking, your Will affects only those assets titled in your name at the time of your death. Excluded assets can include life insurance policies, cars, bank accounts, and property in trust – all of which can either have contractual beneficiaries or joint ownership. In South Carolina, for example, your car title may be held as “You AND/OR Your Spouse,” which means that either or both of you own the car. Real estate cannot be titled in this way, as we will discuss in more detail later.
Also, because your list of personal property will invariably change between the time you execute your Will and the time of your death, most Wills provide for the distribution of your personal property by means of a Personal Property Memorandum, which is a simple, non-legal document that you can change from time to time without having to amend your Will. For example, if you want your antique radar detector to go to your Cousin Purvis, you can jot that down in your Personal Property Memorandum, and Purvis will get it.
+ HOW DO I MAKE A WILL?
There are Will forms available at office supply stores and on the internet. These are never a good idea. You should consult an attorney to prepare your Will. When you call us, the first thing we will do is provide you with an Estate Planning Questionnaire. Based upon your instruction, we will draft your Will, review it with you carefully, and make sure that it is executed properly. If a Will is not executed properly according to the requirements of South Carolina Probate Law, it is not considered valid and will not be legally binding.
+ I HAVE A WILL FROM ANOTHER STATE. IS THAT GOOD ENOUGH?
Maybe. However, because South Carolina has specific requirements regarding execution, it is vitally important that you have a South Carolina review your out-of-state Will to ensure enforceability and validity.