Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Importance of Having an Estate Plan

Recent studies report that approximately 70% of Americans have no estate planning in place. Since this number includes people in their teens and early twenties let's take a closer look at the numbers.

According to Forbes, 51% of Americans between the ages of 55 and 64 have no estate plan. For people between the age of 45 and 54 this number jumps to 62%. This means that these people are counting on the default laws of their state to serve as their "estate plan".

In South Carolina, when a person dies without a will or a trust (or "intestate") their assets are transferred according to "intestate succession" laws. This means that if you are married and have kids your spouse will get one-half (1/2) of your assets and your children will share the other one-half (1/2). If you have minor children then the state of South Carolina will choose their guardians. If you are single and childless then the state of South Carolina has a formula for determining which of your relatives will get your assets.

Even if this sounds fine to you, the state will also require that all of your assets pass through the probate process before they are transferred to anyone. In South Carolina this process is now required to last at least a year and can become extremely costly. If you have assets in other states they will have to go through probate there.

So why do people say that they have not gotten around to making a will or trust? The answers vary, but here are the top three responses:

  1. “just haven’t gotten around to making one”
  2. making a will/trust wasn’t urgent
  3. don’t want to think about death

Don't use one of these excuses to put off something that should be done. Whether you are single or married, a parent or childless, a millionaire or middle-class, at the very least you should consider a will.


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