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Why and When Should You Create a Will? What is a Will?

In a will you express your plans for caring for your family, distributing your assets (also called your estate), and designating who should be responsible for managing your affairs after your death.

Do I need a will?

If you have, may have, or might acquire later on, assets that you want to pass to others, or if you have loved ones that you want to protect, then you need a will. If you die without a will (referred to as “intestate”), state law governs what happens to your assets after your death. In South Carolina half your assets go to your spouse and half to your children (divided equally). If you have neither it goes to the next of kin.

Do I need a lawyer to create a will in South Carolina?

You do not need a lawyer to create a standard will for yourself in South Carolina. A written will needs to be signed by you (who must be at least 18) and by two witnesses (at least 18 years old, competent, not receiving gifts or assets from the will, and not directly related to you) in front of a notary public. It is against the law for a non-lawyer to create a will for someone else and, if the two witnesses are related this will affect the will!

Wills can be simple or very complex, depending on how you wish your assets to be distributed, the number of beneficiaries, and a number of other factors. While having an attorney draft your will is not required in South Carolina, it is definitely a good idea to consult an attorney so that your assets will be fully protected and your wishes for how your estate will be distributed are clearly and completely documented.

If I want a lawyer to create a will for me, what’s the process?

At Shelbourne Law, the process begins with a short (free) consultation to identify your goals and what information we’ll need to create the appropriate legal document. We do not charge to review a will that you have written or a prior will. Once we have the required information, the will can be done as quickly as necessary. You can call us at 843-871-2210 to get started or complete the contact form on our website and we will contact you.

For more information see: WSJ article: The Confusing Fallout of Dying Without a Will https://www.scbar.org/public/get-legal-help/common-legal-topics/why-you-need-a-will/

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