You Can't Always Get What You Want... Unless you spell it out in your will.

Yes, this is a discussion about two forbidden topics: death and taxes, but just hear me out. Most of us can agree that planning for the future is important. We work hard, invest, and plan for retirement. Equally important is planning for your family and loved ones in the event of your death. No one wants to make life more difficult for those they leave behind, yet that is exactly what happens for those people who fail to specify their wishes in a will.

A will is a legal document that details a person's wishes regarding the management and distribution of their property when they die. A will can protect your spouse, your children, and your assets. At CG Law, a basic wills package includes a durable power of attorney, health care directives, and a will designating your wishes. However, each person’s situation varies, and your estate plan can be altered to meet your particular needs.

Do not leave these important decisions to the courts of our State to sort out.

Here are our Top Five Reasons a Will can help you ‘Get What You Want’:

1.       A will gives you power to decide how your property is distributed when you die.

If you die with no will or trust in place (known as dying intestate), the state of South Carolina has laws governing how to distribute your assets—no matter how many times you have promised that dining room table to your sister. Without a will, there are no guarantees that the way that you intended your property to be handled will be carried out. Specifying your wishes in a legally-binding document will allow you to make things easier for your loved ones and friends.

2.       A will designates custody of your minor children.

Deciding the next best person or persons to raise your children is an important decision that every parent should both thoughtfully consider and designate. Having a will allows you to appoint the person of your choice that would benefit your children the most in your absence. Without a will, the court must decide among your family members or a state appointed guardian without your input. This decision is too important to leave up to the courts, so do not wait until it is too late to document your wishes in a will.

3.       A will helps your family avoid a lengthy probate process.

If you pass away without a will, the probate process can be extremely lengthy and emotional. However, an estate with a will tells the court exactly how you would like for your property to be divided and significantly speeds up the process. Without a will, the court will decide how to divide your assets based on the state’s intestate statutes. This means that your assets could be passed to someone in your family that you may be estranged from or with whom you have a rocky relationship. Help ease the anxiety of probating your estate by documenting your wishes in a will.  

4.       A will allows you to make gifts and charitable donations that may reduce taxes on your estate.

The value of gifts to family members and/or charitable donations can reduce the value of your estate. This may be very beneficial if your estate’s value is over the federal estate tax exemption. Currently, the estate tax exemption is $5,250,000 meaning you can pass this amount through your estate without paying estate taxes. If you are an individual with an estate worth more than the estate tax exemption, then a properly drafted will is a wonderful tool to allow you to give more of your money to the people and organizations that you love instead of paying it out in taxes.

5.       A will allows you to change your mind if your life circumstances change.

Making a will now, does not prevent you from changing your mind as life changes occur. Changes such as births, deaths, divorce, disinheritance, adoptions, among other things can make amendments to a will necessary. The good news is that you can change or revoke your will at any time after you create it.

Do not wait until it is too late to spell out your wishes for these important decisions. Meet with legal counsel to have a will created.