A will is probably one of the most important documents that you should have, but it is something that far too many people fail to create before it is too late. A will provides piece of mind for you and your family. It is a written expression of your wishes, and it takes the guesswork away from your family with having to wonder what you wanted to have done with your property. A will allows you to direct the transfer of both real and personal property to individuals or organizations. A will can stop the potential fighting that your family may experience after your death when your family argues over whether you had made promises in your lifetime to someone about receiving a certain piece of property following your death.
Won’t everything just go to your spouse when you die, anyway? Just because you are married does not mean that your surviving spouse will automatically get everything, especially if you leave behind children (adult or minors). In South Carolina, if you die without a will, the law states that your surviving spouse will inherit your estate, but if you die with children and a surviving spouse, then your spouse will only receive half of your estate, and your children will split the other half in equal shares. The law is not concerned with whether your children are minors at the time of your death, and your family may have to be involved with subsequent and costly proceedings in the Probate Court to deal with the issues of minor children receiving money or property from your estate. Having a will can save your family from that expense.
A will allows you to name the person who will be the personal representative of your estate—sometimes referred to as the executor or administrator of your estate. The personal representative is tasked with carrying out the administration of your estate. If you have minor children, a will allows you to express your wishes as to who should receive custody of your children at your death, and it allows you to direct to the Personal Representative at what age your minor children should be given property or money. Without a will, your children will receive any monies due to them at the age of 18.
However, before you just sit down and write out your Last Will and Testament or rely on the internet for a template, keep in mind that there are certain formalities and requirements that must be adhered to in South Carolina in order for your will to be valid. The last thing you would want is to create a will by yourself that has no force and effect in law.
At Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., we have experienced attorneys who can draft wills and other end-of-life documents for you. Please call to schedule an appointment if we can help you with this.
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