Butler Law

Myrtle Beach Estate Law Blog

Is there still probate court without a will?

If a loved one has died intestate, meaning without a will, you may be inclined to believe that probate, the official proving of a will, would not be necessary. However, probate can't be avoided because of the absence of a will.

In fact, there tends to be more probate litigation in intestate cases due to the lack of official documentation detailing the loved one’s wishes. Here are a few of the issues that often arise in intestate probate cases.

Tips to avoid estate planning mistakes and reduce family discord

Many Myrtle Beach area residents have taken the time necessary to create an estate plan. With an estate plan, a person's assets are distributed as they have intended, along with designating medical care and financial care to a specific person. But, there are certain things a person should keep in mind when creating their will in order to minimize family conflict.

When creating a will a person should carefully consider who they name as executor. Many times, when a child is named an executor, the other siblings may argue that the sibling is not doing their job or stealing from the estate. Rather than selecting a child to be an executor, it may be a better idea to choose a professional fiduciary. Personal property should also be included in a will. Heirs often fight over who receives the good silver, a holiday decoration, or other item that may seem insignificant but can cause major problems. A person should ask their children what items are important to them and make a list with who gets what. And if there are any unusual bequests that a person makes it can be important to explain this to the heirs. If one child is to receive more than another it is important for everyone to understand why. Or if a charity is set to receive a significant portion of the estate, the children should be told why this is important.

Estate planning for digital assets

Estate planning for Myrtle Beach residents is constantly evolving. Estate planning does not just involve wills and trusts, but also can encompass guardianship designations, power of attorney, pet trusts, and digital asset planning. Digital assets are important assets that often are forgotten in estate planning. Including them allows a family to manage assets easier after a person's death and makes sure they are not lost or forgotten.

Almost everyone these days has some sort of digital presence. Many people access their bank accounts online, or they have an online only bank account. There is also digital money, like bitcoins. And social media is something most of us can't avoid. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, are just a few examples of websites many frequently visit. Many people also store their pictures in online websites and have digital music accounts and shop on websites like Amazon.

Inheritance issues that can cause family problems

Many Myrtle Beach area residents will receive an inheritance in their lifetime. Lots of families have made plans to create an estate plan for their family that includes gifting money to loved ones. This is important and is something that many families value. But, occasionally there are problems with an inheritance that causes family disagreements.

One mistake an heir can make with an inheritance is spending all the money carelessly. The person who left the money probably didn't want this money being spent on new houses, cars, boats, etc. The money can be gone in a short time, instead of lasting years as was originally intended. Another problem that is common is when one heir receives more assets than another. This can lead to jealousy and resentment among family members. If a person who has another income source suddenly receives a large inheritance, it can complicate the benefits they receive. Disabled people who are on social security disability and receiving government benefits can lose them and getting back on these important benefits can be complicated.

With no will, questions arise over singer Franklin's estate

Myrtle Beach residents, like most Americans, were saddened to hear of the passing of legendary vocalist Aretha Franklin. It may come as a surprise to learn that the Queen of Soul did not leave a will, and questions circulate regarding what will happen to her estate.

Franklin's estate is worth millions even without the catalog of her recorded music; she owned several multi-million dollar homes in the Midwest. Regarding her music, unlike many artists, she held on to the rights to the songs that she wrote and often shared in the copyrights to music that others wrote and she performed. But it will be challenging to determine the value of that catalog, in part because of the surge in demand for her music shortly after her death - a greatest hits compilation, for example, shot to the number one spot on iTunes that same day.

Tips to help you divide your inheritance

Drawing up an estate plan is not always easy. Especially when it comes to the deeper aspects of family relationships and inheritance. However, there comes a time when you start to put into action measures that will delegate your assets to your intended heirs someday. How should you do this? What is the most peaceful way to reassign assets to family members?

The answer to these questions is very personal. Ultimately, the legal measures you take to ensure certain heirs get specified assets of yours is completely in your hands. However, there are things worth considering as you face this part of the estate planning process.

What estate planning documents do I need?

Having an effective estate plan is important for everyone which is why it is important to understand the different estate planning documents. If you are considering estate planning, you may have questions about what the different estate planning tools are.

There are a variety of estate planning documents that should be included in any estate plan. The first is an advanced healthcare directive. An advanced healthcare directive outlines the estate planner's wishes for their medical care and treatment if they become incapacitated. It can also designate the person the estate planner wants to handle their medical care if they are unable to do so for themselves. Similarly, a power of attorney is also an important part of an estate plan which can designate and individual to handle the estate planner's finances if they become incapacitated. A HIPAA release form is also an important part of an overall estate plan.

How to start estate planning

Estate planning can feel like a daunting task. You may not want to think about it since it includes thinking about a time when you are no longer around for your loved ones. However, the reality is that estate planning helps your loved ones in the long run.

It is never too early to start estate planning. This way, you have a plan in place should something unexpected happen. Creating a plan can give you and your family peace of mind so it is best to start planning as early as soon as possible.

When should you update your estate plans?

You and your spouse worked together to come up with a thoughtful estate plan. It covers all your beneficiaries, includes a medical directive and handles distribution of your assets. You believe you and your spouse have planned for every eventuality, when suddenly, live changes. Maybe you were blessed with a new grandchild, or one of your children got married. Whatever the life event, it seems like your carefully arranged estate plans may now need to change.

Fidelity Investments recommends you review estate plans about every three to five years. If, however, there is a major change in you or your family’s lives, you may also want to revisit your plans. Here are some situations that may mean it is time to change to your estate plans.

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Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

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