3 Tips for a Paying a Low South Carolina Estate Tax

You love your family more than anything, and you want to ensure that they have every opportunity to thrive–even after you are gone.

Life happens in the blink of an eye. You have no way of knowing what will happen tomorrow, but you can take steps to protect your family in the future with your estate. 

Of course, it is not as simple as naming your family members as beneficiaries of your assets. You also have to deal with the South Carolina estate tax.

Here are three tips to help you sidestep the estate tax and ensure that your family gets the maximum benefit. 

Generation-Skipping

Generation-skipping, sometimes done via a generation-skipping trust, is when you transfer a portion of your estate assets to your grandchildren rather than passing the assets to your children. 

Typically, your assets are taxed twice on the way to your grandchildren: first, when they pass from you to your children (second generation), and again when your children later transfer them to their children (third generation). 

Generation-skipping sidesteps the intermediate tax. The downside, of course, is that your children cannot access assets that get designated to your grandchildren (which your children may not be happy about). 

Most people take a moderate approach. They designate as many assets to their children as they think they will need and elect the excess be apportioned to their grandchildren. 

Lifetime Gifts

If you are not entirely comfortable with generation-skipping, you can take a more proactive approach with lifetime gifts to your children and grandchildren.

This is precisely what it sounds like: rather than waiting for your assets to pass when you die, you directly gift part of your assets to your children and grandchildren. 

Every year, a person can make a gift of up to $12,000 without incurring a gift tax. If both you and your spouse give the maximum amount, you can collectively gift away $24,000 per year per recipient. This gift, in turn, reduces your taxable estate. 

It does require you to be comfortable giving away a portion of your assets while you are still alive–or have the financial bandwidth to do so. If you are worried about running out of money, though, this may not be the right choice for you, as it is inordinately difficult to reclaim this money once you have gifted it away.

Put Your Assets in a Trust

Ultimately, the only real way to protect your whole estate against taxes is to put it in a trust, though most people are wary of this option since it signs control of your assets over to someone else. 

First, keep in mind that there are many different types of trusts you can create, and you can designate almost anyone to manage the trust for you, including a family member. 

If you do decide to establish a trust, though, it is essential to work with an estate planner, as there are many rules and exemptions attached to trusts that you may not be aware of. 

Need Help Figuring Out South Carolina Estate Tax?

At Indigo Family Law, we know that family is the only thing that matters. We also know that time flies, especially for busy parents.  That is why we are here to help you figure out the South Carolina estate tax–or whatever else you might need.

If you would like to speak with a lawyer about your options, use our contact page to get in touch.

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7 Tips for Making a Will That Benefits Your Children

Did you know 60% of American adults do not have a will? That seems like a significant oversight for a document of such magnitude.

It is the one document that can prevent your estate from falling apart after you pass.

When making a will, there are a few key components to keep in mind. Here are seven tips that will benefit your children. 

Name Your Spouse as Guardian

Sure, this sounds like common sense. If one spouse dies, the other spouse will remain the guardian of the children. However, believe it or not, there have been cases where, when one spouse dies, an outside party makes a play for custody of the children. When this happens, it is up to a judge to decide where the children shall remain.

Name an Alternate Guardian

If the worst case scenario, both parents should die, or you do not have a spouse, you will want to have an alternate guardian in place. Who in your life is well-positioned to care for the children, provide for them, and love them? Think about that and put it down in writing.

Designate a Trustee

After the children’s future guardian is secured, it is time to consider the property. Name a trustee to manage your estate until the children become of legal age.

This person will have full control over the money, real estate, and any assets. So, make sure you trust this person beyond a shadow of a doubt. 

We often see the guardian go on also to become the trustee. But, this is not a hard and fast rule. You will want someone who is fiscally responsible and supremely trustworthy.

Pay Your Trustee

The person you select to guard your property will spend a lot of time and resources handling the estate’s affairs. As such, it might be nice to compensate them for all their efforts. 

This does not have to come in the form of assets through the will. Instead, you can set aside an amount to compensate them.

Each state has a set of provisions in their probate codes, indicating how much a guardian can be paid. Your attorney can guide you on local law. 

Consider a Family Trust

Before you dive into probate law, ask your attorney about a family trust. In some cases, a trust can help your loved ones avoid probate and even save money when it comes to inheritance taxes. Of course, this will depend largely on your unique situation. 

Consider Conditional Gifts

In your will, you can include gifts that come with a prerequisite. This will allow you to rest assured that some of your wishes are being granted before your children inherit the estate. For example, you can condition a gift after the children reach a certain age or graduate college. 

Appraise Your Property

While specific property values fluctuate i.e., homes and cars, you can have other items appraised. Perhaps you have certain antiques or heirlooms. Including these amounts in your court documents allows you to be as specific as possible. 

Making a Will for Your Children

Sure, it is hard to consider a world where you do not exist. But, you can do so much to tie up loose ends and make sure everyone is provided for even after you are gone.

Making a will is not the most straightforward task but, here at Indigo, we put the family back in family law. Contact us today!

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Fledgling Filers: When Is it Too Soon to Write a Will?

Over half of Americans do not have basic estate documents like a will, trust, or powers of attorney.  Are you one of them?

You may think that you are too young to write a will, but an unforeseen accident can leave your family heartbroken and struggling.

To prevent your assets winding up in probate, it is crucial to start drafting your will asap.

We talk about which life changes impact your will and whether you need to write one now.

Life Events That Impact Your Will

There are certain events in your life that affect your finances and your assets. If you have gone through any of these significant changes you should write or update your will.

  • Getting married
  • Having children
  • Purchasing a home
  • Buying a car, boat, RV, etc.
  • Starting a business

You should update or review your will every five years. This makes sure that your assets wind up where you want them after your death.

Think You Are Too Young?

In South Carolina, you can create a will once you turn eighteen and are no longer a minor. While no one wants to think about dying, it is better to prepare for anything that life brings. Unexpected accidents happen to people of all ages.

Do not be unprepared. Dying without a will means you have no control over who inherits your assets. 

* It’s especially important to have a will if you have children.

Other than the points mentioned above, there are a few more factors that necessitate writing a will.

If You Have an Inheritance or Business Assets

Even if you have your inheritance in a trust, you should include it in your will.

If you have recently started a business within the last few years, include those assets in your will. Be sure to state any business succession plan you may have. Also remember to think about royalties, copyrights, and patents.

You Have Pets

If you have a pet that you want to be well taken care of after you pass, you should include them in your will. Remembering them when writing your will ensures they are cared for if anything happens.

You Have a Family History of Mental Illness

A testator (the person writing the will) must be of sound mind. Certain illnesses may affect your ability to make important life choices. For this reason, it is a good idea to write your will while you are young.

How to Write a Will

Wondering how to write your will? You can do it yourself with a template, but you need two disinterested signatories without anything to gain from your will to sign as well.

You can also speak with a lawyer to discuss your estate plan rather than do it yourself. Getting the assistance of an estate planning attorney might be easier since you can be sure that the document is legally binding.

Make a list of all your assets and beneficiaries beforehand so you do not forget anything. Remember, you can always edit your will. In fact, you should do this every few years or after any major life change.

Write a Will Now to Avoid Problems Later

As long as you are over eighteen, you are never too young to write a will. Writing one now will protect your assets and your family after your death.

No one likes to think about dying, but having a will means you are prepared for the future. It assures your possessions do not go into court and makes sure no one argues over who gets what.

Are you ready to talk about writing your will? Contact us to schedule a consultation today.

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Neglect: An Introduction to Elder Law and How it Can Help You

In 2009, the Obama Administration started the Affordable Care Act. Within the Affordable Care Act is the Elder Justice Act. This act was to combat widespread nurse neglect and abuse of elders in America.

Over two million cases of elder abuse (Elder abuse occurs when there is any form of neglect or abuse on an individual over the years of 60) get reported annually, and it is estimated that as many as 10% of the elderly will experience some form of nurse neglect. 

If you are worried about a loved one, maybe even suspect elder abuse, find out everything you need to know about elder law right here.

How Does Elder Law Define Neglect?

There are many different forms of nurse neglect or even neglect in general of an elder. Physical abuse or mental distress is a severe form of nurse neglect.

Some elders in nursing homes are even subjected to sexual abuse and exploitation.

However, there are quieter forms of neglect that lead to immense emotional duress for the elder.

Exploitation of finances occurs against the elders frequently. It can happen by nurses and caregivers in private settings, or even in a hospital or care facility.

Unfortunately, many elders today are too ashamed to report elder neglect. Actor Mickey Rooney testified for the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging in 2011.

He did this after years of having his finances abused by family members. In 2011 he went on Capitol Hill, imploring Congress to make elder neglect a crime.

Today, the law provides for remedies and compensation to those experiencing elder neglect.

What are the Symptoms of Elder Neglect?

Elder law defines neglect as any means in which an elder’s rights to access services and needs are compromised. This neglect can happen at any time and in any way.

If an elder has finances that are draining, their ability to access funds for basic needs are compromised.

Family members or nurses may manipulate an elder patient into changing their estate and legacy plans. Their motive would be to have legacy plans changed to favor the abuser financially.

This is one potential symptom of elder neglect. If you are worried this could happen to someone you love, contact an estate planning lawyer to have airtight provisions in place for your loved one.

Elder neglect can also come in the form of actual physical abuse, or even withholding medications from the elder. Withholding food and basic hygiene needs can also be considered a form of elder neglect.

Elder neglect strips the individual of basic civil liberties.  It will ultimately impact their overall quality of life. It could also lead to further health problems, such as infection due to poor hygiene, or depression or anxiety.

Any elder experiencing mental health distress, or who are suffering from poor hygiene may be showing symptoms as a victim of elder neglect. Elders that are showing bruising without cause can also be showing signs.

Consult an Expert

There are millions of elders impacted by nurse neglect and abuse every year.  These cases of neglect include physical, financial, and verbal abuse.

Neglect on its own is defined by a failure to meet an elder’s basic life needs, from food to hygiene and even housing. However, neglect can also take the form of financial abuse, with as many as 5.2% of the elderly reporting financial abuse from a family member. Nurses and caregivers can also exploit finances, and this strips an elder of their rights to access basic needs.

If you are worried about an elder in your life, get legal help on elder law immediately. Contact Indigo Family Law today to determine if you have a claim of nurse neglect or abuse.

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Inscribing the Inheritance: 7 Things You Need to Include in Your Will

Are you afraid of where all your stuff will go when you are gone?

No one wants to think about writing a will, but it is something that you have to come to terms with as you age. It is best to get it out of the way so you can move on and focus on living your best life.

If you do not know what to include in your will, we are here to help. It can get a little overwhelming deciding what to leave to whom when you die, but it is better to make this decision yourself than to leave it to your family to argue over when you are gone.

Here are the seven things you absolutely need to include in your will.

Name an Executor

You should always name an executor to enact the things that you have written out in your will. This person will take the necessary measures to inform your beneficiaries of what you have left to them and see that they get it without any trouble.

It is good practice to name a backup executor, in the event of your primary executor being unable to complete the task for some reason.

Name Beneficiaries to Your Property

Your “property” is anything that falls under personal property, real estate, or cash.

Depending on what your relations and business dealings are, you would typically leave a certain percentage of these things to different family members, friends, business partners, or organizations. These are your beneficiaries.

If you are feeling particularly generous, you can name a charitable organization as one of your beneficiaries as well.

Name Alternate Beneficiaries

Another good thing to do is to name alternate beneficiaries in the event of the death of your primary beneficiary.

For example, you name your friend as one of your beneficiaries. If they die before you, then whoever they have designated as their beneficiary will inherit what you left your friend. To avoid this, you need to name an alternate beneficiary.

Directions on How to Divide Your Assets

Your will should thoroughly describe how your assets are to be divided. If you are leaving property to one of your children, it should note which piece of property they are receiving.

You can also specify whether an asset is to be given to an individual or sold for cash value and provided to one or multiple individuals.

Directions on Business Asset Allocation

If you have any business assets, treat these separately from your personal assets. Business assets might include cash in a business account, stocks that help fund your business, and any property that was purchased for business use.

If you decide not to name a business partner beneficiary to these things, make sure that you clarify very specifically who these things are to go to to avoid any arguments.

Debts, Expenses, Taxes

Describe specifically how your debts and taxes are to be paid, in addition to your funeral expenses. If you intend for these to be paid from a specific source, like a bank account, then write that in the will to avoid any confusion over how these things should be settled.

Name a Guardian In Your Will

Most importantly, if you are a parent to a young child or children, you must name a guardian. Naming a guardian can be tricky if you are in a complicated parental situation, but you still need to nominate someone to take after your young kids in the event of your death.

Ideally, this will be your partner, but could also be a close relative or friend that your child is familiar with.

Do Not Wait Too Long

There is no reason to wait to write your will. The sooner that you get it done, the sooner you can move on with your life. It allows you to protect yourself, your spouse, your kids, and help out your friends and business partners in the event of your death.

If you do not do it, chaos will ensue.

For any legal queries relating to your last will and testament, contact Indigo Family Law, South Carolina’s personal family lawyers.

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Handing Down the House: 3 Tips for Putting Your House in a Trust

You want to leave your home to your children when you pass away, but all you can picture is the two of them as children fighting to win a battle of tug-of-war. What do you do?

Estate planning is the key to an amicable distribution of property. It is essential to provide the blueprint for how your assets are split and to make sure everyone is treated right.

In this article, let’s take a look at the difference between a will and a trust. Plus, we will give you three tips for putting your house in a trust.

Where There Is a Will… Will vs Trust

Should you set up a will, or a trust, or both? Let’s look at the differences.

A will gives a detailed account of what happens to your assets when you are gone. It does not affect anything while you are living. It also spells out how your family should handle decisions about your medical care, whereas a trust is something that takes effect as soon as you set it up. 

Your trust is solely about assets, like real estate and retirement accounts. And it only controls those assets that you have put into it before you die.

Another big difference is that a will must go through probate. Meaning the court must approve the will, which takes time. A trust does not go through probate, so your relatives have access to your assets faster. 

Discuss your needs with an estate attorney. They may suggest that you form both, a will and a trust, depending on your assets.

Find the Right Trustee

Find the right trustee to handle things when you are gone.

When you create a trust, you will assign your assets to beneficiaries. If you have more than one beneficiary for your home, the trustee can decide what happens if your heirs or recipients do not agree. Specify this in your trust verbiage.

There are a few things to take into consideration when you choose a trustee. If you are worried about conflict between beneficiaries, it is best to choose someone outside of the family. You can appoint joint trustees, but that is not the best idea if you fear that they will disagree.

A good rule of thumb is to pick someone you trust that has plenty of common sense. Legal knowledge is excellent too, but not mandatory for a good trustee.

Talk to Your Kids

Keep the lines of communication open when you do your retirement planning. Let all of your beneficiaries know your plans so they are not caught blindsided when you pass away.

You can use these conversations to gauge whether there will be conflict over assets. You may even be able to mend potential conflicts while you are still around.

However, remember this, no matter what people say while you are alive, they may always change their tune after you die.

Words are Important

How you word the trust documents is essential. You must be as specific as possible when you set up the trust so there is no confusion later on. 

Do your research on topics like “joint tenant with survivorship” and “transfer on death.” Talk with your attorney about the options and have the paperwork drawn up exactly as you wish. 

Putting Your House in a Trust the Right Way

Putting your house in a trust is a great decision, as long as it is done the right way. Before you begin, understand the difference between a will and a trust. Talk with your attorney about the best option for your situation.

Pick a trustee who is competent and will not fight with the beneficiaries over property ownership. Talk to your beneficiaries so that everyone is on the same page. Understand the verbiage and create trust paperwork that is detailed and specific.

Are you ready to get started on an estate plan? Contact Indigo Family Law for excellent legal advice. 

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Keep the Finances in the Family: 5 Benefits of Making a Trust

Imagine this sad, but all too possible, situation.

You are married with four, five, six kids. You have a will — that you and your spouse created a decade and three kids ago!

Your younger children’s names are nowhere on your will. They would get left out of anything should something happen to you or your spouse. Your oldest child may get your entire estate, whether they are capable or not.

This is the situation that made my husband and I stop in our tracks. While driving home one day, I realized that if I were to get into an accident, my finances were not prepared. I had an outdated will and no living trust.

Don’t let this scenario happen to you and your loved ones! Establishing a trust is important for all families. 

Keep reading to see why this is true!

Living Trusts Go into Effect Now, Not Later

Will vs. living trust is a common debate with a semi-complicated answer. But, we see at least one major reason to consider a living trust instead.

A will goes into effect in the event of the maker’s passing. But living trusts go into effect now, before anyone’s passing. This is especially important in the event that you become physically or mentally incapable before writing a will.

Making a Trust Guarantees Privacy

Wills are worked out in probate court. After the will-maker’s passing, they become public record. They are contestable, public, and can be argued into changing!

A living trust avoids probate court, making them private and uncontestable. What the writer says goes! It cannot be fought by disgruntled friends or greedy family members.

Your Property Avoids Probate

If you put your property into a living trust, you can avoid probate (as we mentioned). The trustee named in the trust agreement can step into the shoes of the trust maker without hassle. 

Probate is not required for transferring ownership; the beneficiary does not own the property. It is a separate legal entity.

It Protects Your Property from Incapables

Let’s say the total of your assets and estate is a large dollar amount. If you have an eighteen-year-old, you may not want the total going to them — yet.

A living trust allows your assets to be divvied out smartly over time. Your trustee allocates a discussed amount to the beneficiary in increments. This can help prevent irresponsible spending in youth, addicts, or unsmart spenders.

It Protects You If You Are Incapable

This ties into our first benefit of living trusts; they go into effect immediately. 

This even helps in that event that you become incapable of dealing with your finances or estate. If you become mentally or physically incapacitated, a living trust covers your assets. It puts them in the hands of a pre-approved (by you) trustee.

Trust Us: You Need a Living Trust

Now that you see why making a trust is so important, it is time to get writing!

Use careful consideration to decide what you want your living trust to cover — and for whom.  Remember, it is never too early to start drafting it. No one is guaranteed tomorrow.

A family attorney can help you make the appropriate decisions. Here is how to find the best one in Myrtle Beach!

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Assets from the Afterlife: How to Set Up a Living Trust

Being a loving parent or spouse does not just involve being there for your loved ones in the present. Responsible people will make sure that their loved ones are cared for in the event of their death.

Preparing for death can be difficult for everyone involved, and matters of divorce or other family changes can make things more complicated. When the time comes, the last thing you will want to do is trouble yourself with a lot of legal paperwork.

Because they want to be prepared, it is not unusual for people to ask their attorneys how to set up a living trust.

You may have heard of wills, but you may not be aware of how setting up a living trust could benefit you and your loved ones.

If you want to learn of a reliable and simple way to care for your loved ones in the afterlife, read on to learn more. 

Why You Should Create a Living Trust

A living trust is a written legal document that allows your assets to be placed into a trust for your benefit during your lifetime. Once you pass, they are transferred to designated beneficiaries of your choosing (also known as a successor trustee). 

Some consider setting up a living trust because they want to avoid the headaches of probate

Even if you have a valid will, your estate will need to go through probate. Court proceedings will distribute your assets through your executor.

A living trust does not need to go through probate. Your successor trustee will pay your debts and distribute your assets in accordance with your instructions.

Not having your living trust go through probate means that your assets can be distributed quickly. Sometimes wills can take months or years to be determined.

Others choose living trusts because they value their privacy. Wills are on public record and the distribution of assets can easily be found. 

How to Set up a Living Trust

Now that you know the benefits of a living trust, you may be interested in learning how to make a trust for your family and assets. 

Setting up a trust of any kind can be a simple affair as long as you have the help of an experienced lawyer. But to make things easier for them, make sure that you take these steps before you head to their office. 

List All of Your Assets 

Some people can underestimate the amount of assets they own that need to be distributed appropriately. Property, stocks, and money are assets, but so are prized possessions like jewelry, fine china, and collectibles. 

Making a list of all your assets will be able to give a lawyer a clear picture of your estate. It will also make it easy for you to divide up assets fairly. 

While you are at it, be sure to gather important paperwork like titles, deeds, stock certificates, and life insurance policies in case your lawyer needs them.

Determine Your Beneficiaries 

Do not make the mistake of waiting until you meet with your lawyer to choose your beneficiaries. Take all of the time you need to think about how you want to distribute your assets.

While you are thinking about dividing up your assets, it can be equally important to think about who you would not want to give assets to. If you are going to keep assets from a former spouse or other family members, be sure to bring it up to your lawyer.

Choose Your Successor Trustee

Your successor trustee will pay debts and distribute your assets in accordance with your instructions after you pass. It is also important to remember that they will handle your affairs if you are incapacitated.

That is why it is important to choose someone you trust.

Your successor does not necessarily have to be someone you are related to. It could be a trusted friend, lawyer, or anyone you think could best handle your affairs.

Protect Your Family

Now that you know how to set up a living trust, you are ready to start putting it together.

We are always here to help families make the best decisions for their children’s future. Read how we have helped other families by viewing our testimonials

While you are on our site, be sure to read our blog for other helpful legal and parenting advice.

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