People often come to an attorney when something bad is happening or has happened, such as being charged with a crime, a divorce is in progress, or a loved one has passed away. When clients come to see Attorney Kevin T. Hardy with the Hardy Law Firm for Estate Planning, nothing bad has happened. They are taking the responsible steps to make sure they have properly documented what they want to happen with their assets–whether it be real estate, money, or even their baseball card collection–when they pass away or become disabled. This helps clients rest easier knowing their wishes will be carried out.
Kevin has worked hard to create a non-intimidating experience for clients who visit him in the office. You will not find shelves lined with stuffy law books–legal research moved online decades ago anyway. Of course, he is also available for video or phone consultations as well. Kevin strives to get to know his clients to truly understand their wishes and needs in order to craft a plan tailored specifically for each client. Estate Planning engagements are usually handled on a flat-fee basis.
Your will is a legally-binding statement directing who will receive your property at your death. It also appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. With a will you can direct where and to whom your estate (what you own) will go after your death. If you died intestate (without a will), your estate would be distributed according to state law.
Wills make the administration of your estate run smoothly. Often the probate process can be completed more quickly and at less expense to your estate if there is a will. With a clear expression of your wishes, there are unlikely to be any costly, time-consuming disputes over who gets what. For larger estates, a well-planned will can help reduce estate taxes, and a will allows you to appoint who will take your place as guardian of your minor children should both you and their other parent both pass away.
Living wills are documents that give instructions regarding treatment if the individual becomes terminally ill or is in a persistent vegetative state and is unable to communicate his or her own instructions. The living will states under what conditions life-sustaining treatment should be terminated. If an individual would like to avoid life-sustaining treatment when it would be hopeless, he or she needs to draw up a living will. Like a health care power of attorney, a living will takes effect only upon a person’s incapacity. Also, a living will is not set in stone; an individual can always revoke it at a later date if he or she wishes to do so.
A living will, however, is not necessarily a substitute for a health care power of attorney. It simply dictates the withdrawal of life support in instances of terminal illness, coma, or a vegetative state.
A health care power of attorney is a document that allows someone else to make health care decisions for you should you ever become incapacitated and unable to make your own health care decisions. Every adult in South Carolina should have a health care power of attorney because without it, there could be a delay in providing recommended treatments if you are unable to consent to them. If you moved to South Carolina from another state, it is worth having an experienced attorney review your existing health care directive(s) from your prior state. While the documents from your prior state are not necessarily invalid, it may make sense to execute a new health care power of attorney.
A business power of attorney, sometimes also called a durable power of attorney or a general power of attorney, allows someone else (your agent or attorney-in-fact) to make business decisions for you. They are usually drafted to give your agent broad powers to do in your absence anything that you could do. Because of the wide range of powers given to your agent, you should only appoint someone you trust unconditionally to be your agent.
A trust is a legal arrangement through which one person (or an institution, such as a bank or law firm), called a “trustee,” holds legal title to property for another person, called a “beneficiary.” Trusts fall into two basic categories: testamentary and inter vivos.
A testamentary trust is one created by your will, and it does not come into existence until you die. In contrast, an inter vivos trust, starts during your lifetime. It can be either revocable, meaning it can be changed or terminated during your life, or it may be irrevocable, meaning it cannot be changed.
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