What Is Simple Estate Planning?

Estate Planning is often thought of in respect to large estates which are subject to estate tax liability. However, it has been our experience that regardless of the size of the estate, a certain amount of planning is necessary in order to preserve and maintain the estate. Simple Estate Planning offers the client consultation in the following areas:

Life Insurance: Life insurance, of course, is not a substitute for a will. However, as counselors, we strongly recommend a proper life insurance program depending upon the particular facts and circumstances of the individual case.

By reviewing your life insurance program, we can give you our opinion as to whether or not you have too little insurance, too much insurance, or the wrong kind of insurance. Often a review of life insurance programs will indicate areas in which a client can actually save money without loosing the protection which is needed for his or her family.

Funeral Plans: People who wish to leave their personal and financial affairs in order when they die often do not realize that funeral planning is part of sound estate planning. While they otherwise provide carefully for the allocation of their resources and the protection of their families, many fail to prepare instructions concerning funeral arrangements. The consequences, especially if resources are limited, can cause needless anguish and expense for survivors.

Making funeral plans in advance is prudent because (a) individuals can obtain the type of services and arrangements they prefer; (b) decisions can be made after careful consideration of alternatives and cost; and (c) families are spared the difficulties of making decisions and reaching agreements on arrangements in a crisis.

The logical time to make the funeral arrangements is at the same time the will is prepared. In our Simple Estate Planning we discuss funeral arrangements with our clients and we will offer the appropriate information for those who indicate an interest in such planning.

Joint Ownership of Property: Another area which we cover in our Simple Estate Planning is that of the form of ownership of property. We are often asked as to whether or not it is wiser to own property jointly or just in the name of one individual. There is no simple "yes" or "no" to that question as it depends upon the particular facts and circumstances. We review this issue with you and discuss the benefits and/or drawbacks to joint ownership.

Gifts to Minors: Where appropriate, we will consult with you and discuss the possibility of making gifts to minor children. This is particularly important where the gift is an income property, savings account, in that considerable income tax savings may be realized by gift giving.

Property Tax: Often we are called upon to do Simple Estate Planning for individuals or couples who have recently moved to South Carolina, and older individuals or couples who wish to put their affairs in order. One of the more often asked questions from these individuals involves the system of taxation in the state of South Carolina and in Horry and Georgetown Counties in particular. In our Simple Estate Planning, we will further explain the benefits of the South Carolina homestead exemption laws if they are applicable.