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Welcome to the Lowcountry!

If you are one of the thousands of folks who moved to Charleston this year, welcome! Charleston is now growing at 3X the rate of the US population. With 38 new residents moving here a day, Charleston is the 74th most popular city in the nation. To round things out, Mount Pleasant is the second fastest growing city in America. With the influx of new residents means more growing families.

Wiles Law was created to help protect families and preserve their legacies for generations to come in South Carolina. While you are unpacking and getting acclimated to your new life in the Lowcountry, don’t forget to update critical documents like your Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, Voter Registration, and Estate Plan. Your previous Estate Plan may no longer be valid in South Carolina. The good news is, you’ve already done the hard part of making critical decisions. Now you just need to make sure it’s adapted to South Carolina law. With the ever-changing federal policies and state laws, it’s important to take a fresh look at your estate plan to make sure it’s not obsolete anymore.

Some of the items you may want to review are your last will, living will, living trust, advance healthcare directives, and power of attorney. We want to help you ensure that your plan is in full compliance with South Carolina laws—and that these documents still do what you intend for them to do. Below is a brief explanation of how our state laws can affect the validity of various estate planning documents and what you need to do to make sure they are up-to-date.

Last Will and Testament

So long as your Will was properly executed according to your previous state’s laws, South Carolina may approve it according to Probate Code Section 62-2-505. This doesn’t mean you’re off the hook on making sure your Will achieves what you want it to in a new state. Talk with one of our experienced attorneys and review your Will to ensure your wishes are still protected under the laws.

Personal Representative: Although South Carolina will allow out-of-state executors to serve, state law also has special requirements for the Will to state there is no bond. See SC Probate Code Section 62-3-201, et seq.

Marital Property: In case you weren’t aware, South Carolina is not a community property state. If you are married, and own property, each spouse must have the property in his or her name (or both). If you are moving to a community property state and you had previously lived in a common law state (or vice versa), your Will may not handle your property as you would like.

Probate: In South Carolina, assets passed by Will are forced to go into Probate, it’s unavoidable. If you decide to keep using a Will as your main estate planning document, make sure to update and tweak the language to protect your family as much as possible according to our laws. Ideally, you could create an even safer estate plan by using a Trust, which can avoid Probate completely.

Living Trust

If you have a revocable living trust, the main consideration is to make sure it is funded with all of the assets you want to pass directly to a beneficiary. For example, if you’ve bought a new home in South Carolina, you may want to revise your living trust to reflect that purchase update. Or perhaps you may need to rename the deed to your new trust name.

Living Will or Advance Directive

A Living Will or Advance Directive—which states your wishes regarding medical care should you be unable to communicate—is usually applicable across state lines, but it’s not a guarantee. South Carolina usually accepts anything executed properly from another state, pursuant to reciprocity principles. Because each state has its own forms, provisions, and language, your best course of action is to be absolutely sure your documents will be valid if/when you need them. Or simply to draft new ones according to South Carolina laws with our help. Don’t risk your health wishes not being followed, especially with the pandemic affecting so many.

Power of Attorney

Similar to Wills, most states, including South Carolina, will recognize and honor powers of attorney, including durable power of attorney, health care power of attorney, and financial power of attorney, that were executed out of state so long as they met the legal requirements of South Carolina law. However, it is not automatic, so you should check to make sure yours is still valid with one of our team members.

Reviewing your estate plan after moving isn’t the only time you should revisit your wishes. Significant life events such as marriage, divorce, death, birth, adoption, increase or decrease in assets and liabilities, new medical diagnoses, updated relationships statuses, etc. all qualify as important changes that could affect your estate plan. A good rule of thumb is to review your estate plan every five years to see if you’d like to change anything. It can be hard to remember to revisit your plan every five years, so set a goal of reviewing it on an important date, such as your anniversary, birthday, or even Tax Day. Our team can also set reminders for you on key check in dates so you don’t ever have to worry. Contact us today and let us know how we can help you update your current estate plan or begin building a new one together.