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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Friday, August 3, 2018

Does Your Estate Plan Address Suicide?

Sadly, suicide impacts all walks of life. No family is immune from the risk of suicide. With the news of several well-known and successful people, including Chef Anthony Bourdain and designer Kate Spade, tragically ending their lives through suicide, the topic is relevant to discuss with our clients as they consider their estate plan. It is not an easy topic; however, it is a topic our South Carolina wills and trusts lawyers believe should be explored.

Does Suicide Impact a Will or Other Estate Documents?

No, a person’s suicide should not impact his or her will or other estate documents provided those documents were executed properly. The concern of suicide does highlight the need for a South Carolina wills & trusts attorney to help you with estate planning needs. Our attorney ensures that the documents adhere to the probate laws in South Carolina for valid wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate documents. In addition, our attorneys perform due diligence to determine if the person is of sound mind at the time the will and other documents are executed.

The trouble a suicide may cause for an estate is a contest to the will, trust, or other document. A family member may allege that the person was not in his or her “right mind” when the documents were executed. The burden of proving this allegation is on the person objecting to the will. If the will and other documents were executed in an attorney’s office with the attorney and witnesses in the room, the attorney and witnesses could testify as to the person’s state of mind at the time the will was signed.

Furthermore, if the attorney spent hours with the client discussing his or her wishes over several appointments, it may be more difficult for someone to make the case that the decedent was not competent at the time the will was signed simply because the person committed suicide. It can be very difficult to prove that suicide equals incompetency without any other evidence other than the suicide.

Life Insurance Proceeds and Suicide

However, life insurance policies are different from wills. Most life insurance policies include a suicide exclusion clause stating that the policy benefits will not be paid if the insured takes his or her own life or actively and knowingly assists in the cause of the death. If an estate is based mainly on life insurance proceeds, a suicide could cause severe financial hardships for the surviving family members.

There is Help Available

Suicide is a painful subject, but a subject that should be discussed because it impacts so many families. Below are resources that may help if you or a family member is suffering from conditions that place you at risk for suicide.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – You can call 1-800-273-8255 or visit their website for assistance.

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention — You can reach the South Carolina Chapter by calling (803) 552-9318 or by visiting the website.

  • South Carolina Department of Mental Health — You can locate the nearest SC DMH location to you on its website. You may also go to any hospital emergency room to request assistance.

A South Carolina Wills & Trusts Attorney Can Help

Schedule a consult with one of our South Carolina wills and trusts lawyers today. Our South Carolina wills and trusts attorneys can help you develop an estate plan that protects your family when you die or become incapacitated.

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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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