At Dunes Law Firm, we believe all clients should have an estate plan. At a minimum, the plan should include a Will, Durable Power of Attorney, and a health care directive. In many cases, these three documents are all the legal documents a client needs, and in other cases these documents serve as the foundation of a broader estate plan. In addition to handling the basics, Dunes Law Firm can advise and help implement revocable living trusts, life insurance trusts, charitable trusts and special needs trusts.
Last Will and Testament
One of the most powerful rights associated with the ownership of property is the owner’s ability to determine how it should be distributed upon his or her death. Among other things, a Will allows a person to decide who will receive assets of the estate, when property is to be distributed, who will administer the estate, and who will care for minor children. Many considerations must be taken into account when preparing a Will, and in most cases your wishes and desires will not be carried out absent a Will directing what happens.
Health Care Power of Attorney
The Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint an agent who will handle your medical care in the event you are unable to communicate your wishes to your medical provider. In South Carolina, the Health Care Power of Attorney also includes directions on your care in near death situations such as a terminal illness or permanent coma (often referred to as a living will). If you do not have a health care directive, state law or a state law may decide who will make medical care decisions for you and what level of treatment and care you receive.
In its purest form, an irrevocable trust cannot be terminated or modified by the person who established it. Life insurance trusts, charitable trusts and special needs trusts are some of the trusts that are irrevocable, and these agreements address specific needs, such as estate tax planning or assistance of a family member with special needs.
Durable Power of Attorney
The Durable Power of Attorney appoints an agent who will handle your affairs in the event you are unable to do so. In you do not have a durable power of attorney and become incapacitated; a court decides who will handle your finances, how your property should be used, and how your personal affairs are to be handled.
Revocable trusts are utilized for many reasons, primarily as a device to avoid probate at the client’s death. In recent years, however, various cheap and simple tools for avoiding probate have emerged. In addition, we find that many clients don’t fully understand the finer points of funding and using their trust, so often when the client dies the family still has to go through probate. As part of our representation, we help clients determine if a revocable trust truly makes sense, and if it does, we walk you through from the execution of the trust agreement through the funding of your revocable trust.
Estate Tax Planning
For clients potentially subject to the federal estate tax, we can advise and assist you a wide range of estate tax techniques, including credit shelter trusts, charitable trusts and other charitable giving, life insurance trusts and various other planning tools.