Estate Planning & Probate
Foster Law Office, LLC assists clients in Columbia and throughout South Carolina with estate planning and probate administration.
We create comprehensive estate plans that accomplish your objectives, seek to minimize tax liability, provide a plan for the possibility of future incapacity, and avoid the need for a lengthy and costly probate administration. We recognize that your situation is unique and we tailor your estate planning documents to fit your needs and goals. Our areas of representation include:
- Health Care Powers of Attorney
- Living Wills
- Financial Powers of Attorney
Importance of Estate Planning
You Designate Your Beneficiaries
Few people realize that if you fail to create a will or trust, the intestate succession law of the State of South Carolina will determine how your estate will be divided and distributed, and unless you have an estate consisting of less than $10,000 in personal property, a formal probate proceeding will be required. An estate plan allows you, not the State, to specify how you want your estate divided and distributed.
Providing a Plan for Incapacity
A properly prepared estate plan can also provide a plan in case you become incapacitated; documents such as trusts, health care powers of attorney and financial powers of attorney specify who will manage your finances and make health care decisions for you in the event you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. Planning for the possibility of future incapacity allows you to avoid a costly and cumbersome conservatorship proceeding.
Planning for Your Children
If you have young children, it is especially important to have a will nominating a guardian for your children. Your estate planning attorney will also discuss with you various options for leaving assets to your children, such as the use of trusts.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process where a court oversees the administration of a deceased person's estate. The purpose of the probate process is to ensure that any final debts and expenses are paid, including any taxes owed, and any remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will, or according to intestate succession law.
Estate Planning to Avoid Probate
Most people desire to avoid probate altogether; the primary disadvantages of probate are the cost, time delay and lack of privacy. Probate can be avoided through advance planning. A properly funded revocable living trust allows assets held in the name of the trust to pass to the beneficiaries named in the trust, in accordance with the provisions of the trust, without the requirement of probate administration. There are other methods of avoiding probate, such as titling assets in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, payable on death accounts, and beneficiary designations on certain types of assets. An experienced estate planning and probate attorney can explain the advantages and disadvantages of each method.
We assist clients in probating wills or in the administration of estates where the decedent died without a will (intestate). Our lawyers have significant experience in probate administration of both simple and complex estates, and probate estates in the Richland, Lexington, Orangeburg and Fairfield County Probate Courts.
Contact Us for Assistance
We welcome the opportunity to serve your estate planning and probate administration needs. Contact the Foster Law Office, LLC to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.