Losing a loved one, or even having to prepare for losing a loved one, is always difficult to handle emotionally. On top of that, dealing with paperwork and post-death procedures is often overwhelming and not straightforward. However, considering many legal and logistical aspects before and after the death of a loved one can help preserve their legacy and ensure that the family is able to carry on their light.
Safeguarding and protecting family assets and wealth can help advance a fruitful retirement, and planning well in advance of the event of a tragic loss, can save grief and burden from surviving family members. Therefore, it is critical to work with an estate planning lawyer that can either help you avoid probate by setting up an adequate will and trusts or a York estate lawyer that can help you minimize costs and avoid headaches in probate court.
Probate is a legal process that is overseen by the courts in order to settle an individual’s estate. Estate is everything that a decedent, or the deceased individual, leaves behind after passing. Property, including buildings and land, financial accounts, stocks and dividends, animals and pets, vehicles, and more, can all fall under an individual’s estate.
Going through probate ensures that assets and wealth from the deceased are passed down to loved ones and that all debts and outstanding financial obligations are settled. Whether a will was written by the decedent or not does not particularly influence whether the estate will be taken through probate or not. However, without a will in York, South Carolina, one cannot avoid probate.
In order to avoid going through probate, the decedent must only have assets that are not subject to probate at the time that they pass on. A strategy to avoid probate is to place all of your wealth in a living trust or an inter-vivos trust. The grantor has complete control over this kind of trust in their lifetime. Then, at the time of the death of the decedent, the assets in this trust are immediately passed on to the named successor trustee. Any assets in this trust will not go through probate.
Avoiding probate can also help you avoid costs associated with probate in South Carolina. As the value of your estate increases, so do the respective fees. For example, if an estate at the time of death is valued at 10 million dollars, then the court fees alone of going through probate will be over $24,000 dollars.
The length of the probate processing of an individual’s estate is subject to a number of factors, including the size and complexity of the decedent’s estate. Another factor is whether estate litigation is filed, such as from creditors, to recover the remaining funds.
Probate can be shortened if the estate planning law firm that the decedent hired is experienced, thorough, and knowledgeable. An example of this is helping write an extremely clear will that is difficult to contest and making sure ahead of time that all assets are safeguarded. An efficient trust lawyer can help probate last about a year from start to finish, however; in rare cases, probate may last a couple of years.
It is important to note that estates with no real property and a total value of less than $25,000 may be eligible for a summary administrative procedure, which is a quicker and more affordable alternative to the regular probate process. These small estates can typically be settled within a matter of days or weeks.
In the state of South Carolina, it is not uncommon to have an individual or an organization file a judgment claim against you after a loved one has passed. Creditors also commonly come after the deceased for money because, in South Carolina, the Homestead Exemption Program only allows for properties of value under $50,000 to be exempt from property tax.
When it comes to retirement planning, federal law safeguards assets held in pension and profit-sharing plans. However, assets in IRAs and rollover IRAs are not guaranteed to be protected. South Carolina, in particular, only offers nominal protection of such IRA assets.
Given the limited number of statutory safe harbors, it is important to take proactive steps to protect your assets from predatory claimants. Here are several options to consider:
By taking these steps, you can help protect your accumulated wealth and ensure that it is passed on according to your wishes. It is important to plan and take action to protect your assets before they are at risk. If you wait until you are already facing a lawsuit or other legal threat, it may be too late to effectively protect your assets.
It is important to seek the advice of a qualified and experienced lawyer when it comes to estate planning and the probate process. Mack & Mack Attorneys, who are serving the York area, can provide valuable guidance and assistance with your estate law matters. They are familiar with the local probate laws and administration and can help you simplify or even avoid the probate process. Contact us Mack and Mack Attorneys today to discuss your options.