People put off writing a will for many reasons. The topic can be uncomfortable. They may not think they have anything of real value to leave anyone. Maybe they assume their children or spouse will just inherit everything.
Not only does a will distribute your possessions and property according to your wishes, but it also makes handling your affairs much easier for your loved ones.
In South Carolina, if you die without a will (“intestate”), your survivors must fill out numerous forms and navigate probate court procedures and government bureaucracy that determine who may inherit your property. After everyone is identified, your property will be distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws. If you have a spouse and children, your property will be divided between them. If not, it will be distributed to other, more distant relatives. This can be a long and tedious process. And if no relatives can be located, the estate may get depleted during the difficult and long process that would follow.
If you have a will, however, you determine who will manage and distribute your property. This person—your “executor” or “personal representative”—will have the authority to close your accounts, pay your bills, handle any outstanding financial or personal matters, and distribute your assets according to your wishes. You can designate any competent adult as your executor, shifting the burden of handling your affairs from your spouse or children to a trusted friend, family member, or legal professional. Even if you don’t name a specific individual, the court will appoint a personal representative when your will is filed to carry out its provisions. This can help alleviate a significant source of stress during a difficult emotional time.
You can also designate how you want to distribute your personal property, possessions, and assets. These can be specific bequests, like a treasured object to a particular person, or general bequests, like a donation to a charity or organization. A will can also create a trust for the care and support of a minor child, incapacitated adult, or beloved pet.