ESTATE PLANNING – KEEPING YOUR WISHED INTACT
Proper estate planning is a vital but often neglected component of declaring what happens to your assets during life and upon your death. The average couple spends 13-18 months to plan a wedding. The average person spend over 800 hours a year on social media. Just for a planning a vacation, the average person spends approximately 10-15 hours doing research, reading reviews, choosing a place to stay, planning activities and booking their trip. Yet, most people spend zero time planning who will handle their affairs should they become incapacitated, who will inherit their assets once they die and what steps can be taken now to protect family members from costly impacts and legal battles after you are gone. In fact, less than half the population in the United States has a simple will and risk dying intestate which means state law determines asset distribution. We get it – planning a vacation is just a lot more fun!
Regardless of your age or income (a common misconception is estate planning is only for older or high net worth individuals), your planning for the future and protecting your loved ones should begin today. By reading this, you are in the right place and with the help of an experienced Myrtle Beach estate planning attorney from the Stanley Law Firm your plans will be in legal order in no time.
What exactly does estate planning entail and cover? While typically crafted to your goals and wishes, here are some examples of key components related to estate planning:
- Simple Wills – a legal document that formally details at your direction the distribution of your assets upon your death. The will also designates an executor of your choice who will be the person in charge of estate handling once you have passed. A simple will needs to meet your state’s legal requirements in order to be valid. If you have moved to the Myrtle Beach area but have a will that has been drawn up in another state, it is important to make sure it is up to date with South Carolina state laws.
- Living Wills – unlike a simple will which is effective upon your death, a living will is a directive while you are still alive relating to your wishes concerning end of life care if you become terminally ill. It avoids confusion and speaks for you when you are unable to speak for yourself and communicates these important decisions you have made. Some situations covered in living wills include whether are not you want your life extended as long as possible through medical procedures such artificial respiration, feeding tubes, resuscitation wishes and more.
- Financial (Durable) Powers of Attorney – Appointing a financial power of attorney gives you the authority to dictate who (your agent that you choose) will make financial based decisions regarding your investments, bill paying, house repairs, etc. should you become incapacitated and unable to manage your financial affairs. If you own property or have an income, having a designated financial power attorney is a good idea. If you do not have a financial power of attorney and you become ill and unable to manage your financial affairs the courts will typically appoint someone which can cause stress between loved ones and your private matters now become public. The experienced estate planning attorneys at the Stanley Law Firm can help you navigate several nuances regarding appointing financial powers of attorney. For example, when a power of attorney is selected many people just add that person as a joint owner of their bank account instead of just a power of attorney on the account. The difference is when you die, a joint owner now owns everything in that account while if they were designated correctly with the financial institution strictly as power of attorney, the bank account remains part of your estate with distribution determined by your will.
- Health Care Powers of Attorney – a directive designating a representative that will make health care based decisions on your behalf should you become ill and unable to do so yourself. Don’t get health care powers of attorney confused with living wills that provide directive if you are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. If you are perfectly well and have a major car accident and are not permanently unconscious, a healthcare power of attorney can step in to make decisions on your behalf as it relates to treatments. Often times, both a living will and health care power of attorney can be combined.
Contact the Stanley Law Firm for all your Estate Planning Needs
Don’t wait until it is too late. Take the time now to start thinking about the future, protecting your assets and developing a clear legal directive for your estate for when the need arises. Contact the Myrtle Beach estate planning attorneys at the Stanley Law Firm at 843-390-9111 or through our secure online contact form to setup an appointment to help you navigate this important future planning phase of your life correctly.