It might not come as a surprise to South Carolina residents that almost half of the people across the country do not have a will. Many people associate drafting a will and engaging in estate planning as something an elderly person will do, but consider this scenario-a couple dies in a fatal car accident and minor children are left behind without any guardian or one part of an unmarried couple dies suddenly and leaves their partner of five years without any share in an estate.

Estate planning can help avoid those outcomes, more so in cases where people are living in blended families or are unmarried. If someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed to the closest biological family they have. This means an unmarried partner might be overlooked for a sibling or a previous spouse might get a bigger share than the current partner. Planning in advance and updating estate documents from time to time can ensure one has a say in the way their assets are distributed upon their death and how their health will be managed should they no longer be able make decisions about it themselves.

Everyone’s individual circumstances are different, but there are some general guidelines everyone should consider when making their estate plan. Consider who is going to become the guardian for minor children and how insurance payments are going to made out to them. Many people prefer creating a trust rather than creating an opportunity of misuse of assets by leaving a lump sum amount. When assets are outside of a trust, a will should outline how the estate will be distributed between beneficiaries. An executor who will carry out the decedent’s wishes should be identified and informed of their duty, in addition to being told where the documents are.

Naming someone who can make medical decisions for the person if they are unable to do it for themselves is also an important part of estate planning, as is appointing a financial power of attorney who can manage financial affairs in the same manner. Estate planning encompasses a number of important aspects in addition to those mentioned above and to ensure one is planning for the best future for their beneficiaries, consulting an experienced professional may be helpful.