Why a Will is Needed
When a person dies without a will, he is said to die "intestate" and his property will be distributed according to a formula fixed by statute. In other words, if you don't have a valid will at the time of your death, you will not have any control as to how your property is distributed.
For example, if a South Carolina resident dies without a will, leaving children, the surviving spouse would receive only one half of the estate where there is one or more than one child. If the children are under 18, the property cannot be delivered to them and a guardian must be appointed for them. If later the property is to be sold, a guardian must also be appointed for that purpose. Obviously the problems with passing property to minor children, even if that is where the property is desired to go, will create legal problems that might well involve considerable expense. These problems can be avoided with a will.
Also of great importance to parents with minor children is the care and custody of those children upon the death of both parents. Grandparents, other family members, and godparents do not automatically receive custody of children who do not have a surviving parent. Your will can specify the individual, as well as a guardian of your minor children. Although such a provision in a will is not controlling, it will be of great assistance to the court in determining who will receive custody.