To ensure your family is taken care of when you are gone, it is essential to set up an estate plan for distributing your assets after your passing. Trust administration is a crucial step in the estate planning process, helping individuals specify how they want their assets to be distributed. At Mack & Mack Attorneys, our team of estate planning attorneys can help the people of York with their trust administration needs.
Estate planning is the act of establishing a specific strategy for how one’s possessions will be distributed after their death. Estate plans include a living will or trust, a chosen power of attorney, and any particular medical instructions that should be followed if the creator of the estate is incapable of making such decisions. In addition to end-of-life arrangements, an estate plan specifies the executor — or the person or entity to oversee and carry out the deceased estate’s plan — and how the deceased’s assets should be distributed among their beneficiaries.
Depending on a person’s assets and wishes, the particular components they choose to include can vary. For some assets, probate may be necessary to divide an estate among its beneficiaries. Probate is the legal term for settling an estate in court. It is a method for final taxes and obligations to be paid as well as for the transfer of ownership of assets from the deceased to named beneficiaries. Some of the more common parts of an estate plan that may or may not be subject to probate include:
Regardless of whether a person has a will or not, their estate might go through probate if it contains assets that must go through the procedure. Real estate property, anything owned by the deceased alone, and interest in partnerships, LLCs, etc. are all subject to probate.
Property management is offered both throughout life and after death via a living trust. If someone is made the founding trustee, the trust names a replacement in the event of their death. A trust can be divided among heirs in the event of the trustor’s (the person who created the trust) passing, without probate. For those choosing to create a will, probate is an expected part of dividing up an estate, which can take months in court to settle.
Alternatively, a trustor can establish a living trust for their beneficiaries that avoids the probate process, which allows them to leave their estate to any named heirs, who will automatically inherit this property upon the death of the trustor. A trust does not need to be divided in court, meaning that the deceased’s estate does not need to be public for it to be settled. Additionally, if the trustor holds property in various states, a trust allows them to share it without having to go through additional legal processes.
South Carolina recognizes several kinds of trusts, each with their legal implications. Depending on the estate and the beneficiaries of that estate, the trust that best suits an individual’s estate plan can vary. The main types of trusts recognized by South Carolina include:
Knowing which trust is applicable for a specific kind of estate requires the help of an estate planning attorney. Similarly, knowing which assets to add to a particular trust and who they are to be given to is important before creating a trust.
Those with a living trust are going to still require a will in most cases. It may never be put to use, but a will should still be written to aid in the asset distribution process. Although a trust can outline assets and financial decisions, it does not cover childcare and custody arrangements like a will would. For those with small children, a will can designate a guardian for those children upon the trustor’s passing. Accounting for any assets that have not been placed in a trust yet could warrant the creation of a will. For example, if a trust is created before the acquisition of a timeshare property but the trustor passes away before placing it in a trust, a will would be useful for naming the heir to that property.
People frequently establish trusts but neglect to legally transfer property to the trust, for example, by failing to update the deed to their home. To specify how assets that are not part of the trust should be dispersed, the trustor should create a will as a backup. If they do not have a will, South Carolina state law determines which of their closest relatives would inherit any property that has not been transferred by a living trust or another means, such as joint tenancy.
Because of the many advantages they offer to an estate plan, living trusts have been more and more common over the past few decades. Among those advantages are:
Trusts also offer the privacy of handling affairs outside of the public eye by avoiding probate. If you are interested in establishing a living trust, speak with a York trust lawyer today.
Planning for the unexpected might be unpleasant for some people, but it’s important to make sure your family is protected, and your assets are distributed how you want them to be. At Mack & Mack Attorneys, we can assist with the estate planning process. We take additional care to ensure all essential elements of the plan are included in your estate plan. Contact us today for additional information about our services.