Estate and Trust Planning

Estate Planning simply begins with the client describing their family relations, their basic objectives for distributing their assets, and the types of assets they own. Our attorneys will have an in-depth conversation with the client to determine if there are concerns and risks of which they were not previously aware, and sometimes developing the proper plan requires us to discuss the situation with the client's financial advisors and accountants. Utilizing this information, our attorneys will develop an estate plan and draft the legal documents to accomplish the client's goals in a tax-efficient manner.

Although our attorney's working in this area have advanced degrees and licenses, such Masters in Tax Law, CPA, and CFP, and are experienced in dealing with the most complex situations, we work closely with our clients to design an estate plan that satisfies their goals in a way that is not excessively complex.

The simplest cases often involve:

  • Last Will and Testament
  • Asset Titling Changes
  • Beneficiary Designation Forms (and Transfer on Death Forms)
  • Durable Power of Attorney
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Will

The moderately complex plans may include the addition of:

  • Revocable Living Trust
  • Post-Mortem Family Trust (aka Credit Shelter Trust or Trust B)
  • Marital Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts
  • Spendthrift Trusts

The most complex situations may include the addition of:

  • Generation Skipping Trusts
  • Family Limited Partnerships or Limited Liability Companies
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts
  • Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts
  • Charitable Lead Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts or Private Foundations
  • Business Succession Planning

An effective estate plan is based on many factors, including but not limited to family relationships, wealth level, and tax and other laws. It should be reviewed each time one of these factors changes and about every four or five years even if you are not aware of any such change.


Last Will and Testament

The will is the most basic form of estate planning. It is a legal written document through which you designate the persons or entities to receive your assets upon your death and may appoint legal guardians for your minor children. Your will also designates a Personal Representative, a trusted individual or entity, to be responsible for administering your estate. Client's that already have a will can bring them for our review to determine whether or not it continues satisfy their objectives.

Asset Titling

A great deal of estate planning can be accomplished simply by carefully choosing the proper type of asset titling. However, a tremendous amount of damage can be caused to an estate plan when proper consideration is not given to the impact of the ownership type selected. It can impact whether or not an asset is unnecessarily exposed to potential creditors, subject to a divorce claim, or included in the probate process. Utilizing the proper Asset Titling is critical to a well-designed estate plan.

Power of Attorney

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document executed by a principal granting another person, an agent or Attorney-in-Fact, written authorization to act on another’s behalf in private affairs, business, or some other legal matter. The POA is one the most basic yet most important tools in estate planning. Not all POA's are the same and careful consideration should be given, through consultation with your attorney, as to the scope of powers granted and circumstances under which these powers may be exercised. In the estate planning context, most POA's segregate the types of powers into two broad categories, Health Care and Finance. If a person becomes incapacitated without a proper POA in place, their loved ones are often forced to go through the costly and time consuming process of getting a Conservator and a Guardian appointed by the probate court.

Living Will

In South Carolina, the Living Will, more formally known as an Advance Directive of Declaration for a natural death, is a state form declaring in advance whether or not a person wants food and hydration provided by artificial means if your physical condition falls under the circumstances described in the document. Under most Health Care Powers of Attorney, the agent would have the authority to make this decision; however, many people choose to execute a Living Will to relieve the agent of the burden of making this difficult decision. The Living Will directives trump the agent's authority with respect to the circumstances described in the document.

This page is for informational purposes only. Any result the law firm and/or its attorneys may have achieved on behalf of clients in other matters does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients.
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