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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Estate Planning With a Will

What are the Basic Steps to Estate Planning with a Will?

Nobody likes sitting down and thinking about what will happen when they are gone. Many people think that estate planning is a long and complex process. Knowing the basic steps that it takes to draft a will can help take away some of that anxiety and get you closer to drafting a will that will give you the peace of mind you and your family deserve.

More comprehensive estates might have additional steps to follow to ensure as many assets go to heirs and not to the government. A competent wills and trusts lawyer will be able to discuss your options with you. In the meantime, here are some of the more basic steps you need to take in order to have a will drafted:

  1. Take an Inventory: In order to get a clear picture of financial positions, it is very important to start off an estate plan with an overview of debts, liabilities, and assets. Documenting real estate, cars, jewelry, and other physical assets alongside retirement and brokerage accounts is an important first step. It is also prudent to make notes about insurance policies and get information about any bank deposit boxes that might have valuable items inside.
  2. Plan Out Asset Ownership: After figuring out asset and debts, the next step is to sit down with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss how assets should be distributed to heirs. Any official documents should clearly spell out which family members get what, and should also make sure to list who is responsible for managing financial accounts and dispersing assets.
  3. Account for Any Debt: It is very important to make sure an estate plan accurately accounts for any debt. Some people choose to use different insurances to cover expenses like funeral costs or any other debt.
  4. Draft Up A Will: Once everything is accounted for, an estate planning attorney will be able to help guide you through the process of actually drafting a will, powers of attorney documents, and any other trust paperwork if necessary. It then becomes important to keep any beneficiaries updated about relevant documents and make sure that all paperwork is copied and sorted in a safe place. If you are looking to set up a trust, it should be funded as soon as possible to make sure the agreements go into effect.
  5. Regularly Update Plans: After everything is set up, it is important to keep all documents updated in accordance with changes in financial situations, or to keep up with changes in state law concerning wills and trusts. Beneficiary designations that are out of date will make circumstances very difficult once it comes time to distribute assets.

Some people choose to write up a statement of desires to give information to an executor. This document is not legally binding, but it can be very useful since it lists important information about how to access financial accounts, insurance policies, and credit cards. They can also include contact information for close family and friends and wishes about burial and organ donation.

Schedule a consult with one of our South Carolina wills and trusts attorneys today to ensure your estate goals are appropriately met.


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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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