06.04.

When To Think About Updating Your Will

At Grand Strand Law Group, we advise every adult to have a Will regardless of their life circumstances. Young or old, sick or healthy — having a legal plan in place for when the end comes is important, if not for your peace of mind, but for the peace of mind of those left behind.

 

The passing of a loved one is an emotionally trying time for all involved. If strings are left untied, conflicts regarding the deceased’s final wishes can exacerbate this.

 

Equally important to having a Will, is keeping that Will updated as you move forward through life. To avoid possible conflicts for family members and beneficiaries after you pass, it’s always a good idea to inspect your Will regularly to ensure that all of the information contained in the document is accurate and pertinent to your current circumstances.

 

Significant Life Events That May Affect Your Will

 

Significant life changes may require a revision to your Will. Therefore, it’s always prudent to speak with a lawyer specialized in estate planning in Myrtle Beach SC to make certain your Will is exhaustive and relevant. Not only can an experienced estate lawyer forecast any potential problems, but they can help safeguard your personal interests as well.

 

You may want to amend your Will after any of the following major life events occur:

 

  • Marriage (you or one of your present beneficiaries)
  • Divorce (you or one of your present beneficiaries)
  • Childbirth (child or grandchild enters the family)
  • Death of a beneficiary
  • Conflict (legal or otherwise, between family members or other beneficiaries)
  • Fatal Medical Diagnosis (if you or a beneficiary is diagnosed with a fatal illness/disease)

 

This is not an all-inclusive list; but rather, a list of common life events that are likely to have an immediate and meaningful affect on a person’s standing Will. However, another reason why a person may want to make adjustments to their Will is for financial reasons. Perhaps you’ve experienced an individual financial event or predict a notable financial shift in the foreseeable future that may influence how your assets will be circulated. For example:

 

  • A weighty increase OR decrease in income
  • Acquiring unexpected resources that significantly change the total value of your estate
  • A notable loss in the estate (property, land, investments, etc.)
  • Changes in tax codes that have a notable effect on future plans regarding your estate
  • Purchase or sale of your primary home or other real estate properties
  • Relocating to another state where the laws and tax codes may differ
  • Modifying medical care needs or inclinations

 

Death is inevitable, yet it is equally unpredictable. It’s a particular aspect of life that as humans, we have but little control over. Being as prepared as one can be for such a time is all they can do to ease the pain that comes along with letting go.

 

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” — John F. Kennedy

 

If you have a Will and have experienced any of the life events mentioned above, or perhaps another event that you feel may affect the substance of your Will, it is better to acknowledge and address those topics now to prevent conflict later. Estate planning can be overwhelming; it is always best to get in touch with a lawyer who is best able to provide you with expert advice on such a complicated matter as this.   

 

05.25.

Legal Checklist for Selling Your Home in South Carolina

Selling your home can be both exciting and stressful. You want the best price and you are hoping it sells quickly. You’re also focused on searching for your next home and the many details involved in moving. With all the different pieces involved in selling and buying a home, you may worry that something could slip through the cracks. If you are in the process of selling your home in South Carolina, utilize this legal checklist to help make sure you have everything covered.

 

 

  • Make sure you are current on all property taxes.

 

When you are selling your home in South Carolina, it is important that you ensure that you have paid all property taxes that you owe before transferring the property.  Please DO NOT pay property taxes in advance.

 

 

  • If you will owe the IRS any capital gains taxes, be sure to pay.

 

Under the new 2018 federal tax law, if you have owned your home and used it as your main residence for two of the last five years, you can exclude $250,000 of capital gains if you are filing as single or $500,000 if you are filing as married.  Speak to you accountant or CPA regarding whether you should claim a gain on your property.

 

 

  • Make all disclosures to buyer required by South Carolina law.

 

South Carolina law requires that you make certain disclosures about your property to the buyer. These disclosures have to do with the condition of the property and any known defects. You can view a copy of South Carolina’s required disclosure statement here.

 

 

  • Resolve any encumbrances or liens on the property.

 

When you sell your property, in order to convey the property free of any debts or encumbrances, you may need to resolve any court judgments or tax liens on the property.  Be sure to keep proof of payment!

 

 

  • Make sure you are up to date on all homeowners’ association dues.

 

If your property is part of a homeowners’ association, be sure to pay all of the membership dues you owe before conveying the property.

 

 

  • Hire an experienced real estate lawyer.

 

An experienced real estate lawyer can be a valuable asset when selling your home, particularly when it comes to navigating your way through the items listed above. If you have questions about any of these items, ask your real estate attorney for more information.

 

Every situation is different and you may have additional legal considerations when selling your home. If you are considering selling your South Carolina home or if you have already placed your home on the market, be sure to consider the information above and consult one of our experienced real estate lawyers for advice on your particular circumstances.

05.16.

What Is Probate and How You Can Avoid It

Many people believe that the assets in their estate will be divided exactly the way their Will instructs. However, probate laws in your state or where your Will is being probated may treat some of your property differently. Estate property is categorized as either probate property or non-probate property. In this article, we will explore the difference between probate property and non-probate property, and how to avoid your property going through the probate process.

 

Probate

Generally, when an estate goes through probate, the Will must be filed with the probate court, a personal representative is appointed, bills and debts of the estate are paid, assets are administered, and then a final account of the estate is filed with the probate court. Through this process, the court determines how the assets of the estate should be administered.

 

Only property categorized as probate property will go through the probate process. Examples of probate property include real estate in the decedent’s name only or held as tenants in common, interest in a company, bank accounts in the decedent’s name only, and personal property. If estate property is in the name of the decedent only, not held in trust, and does not independently designate a beneficiary, it will probably have to go through the probate process.

 

Non-Probate

Typically, the type of property that is categorized as non-probate and does not need to go through the probate process is jointly held property or property that has its own designated beneficiary. Some examples of non-probate property include real estate held as joint tenants with right of survivorship, jointly held bank accounts or accounts with a designated beneficiary, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and property held in trust.

 

How to Avoid Probate

One of the most effective ways to avoid probate is to plan your estate in a way that minimizes the extent of your property that will be subject to the probate process. Some ways to do this include holding real estate property in a joint tenancy—so the other person has an automatic right of survivorship and the property does not pass through probate, create a living revocable trust, and naming beneficiaries on your bank accounts and retirement accounts whenever possible.

 

If you are interested in making a plan for how to best organize your estate, protect your assets, and provide for your loved ones, contact our experienced Myrtle Beach estate planning attorneys who can help you create a plan tailored to your needs and wishes.

 

05.11.

Top Legal Concerns for Retirement

If you’re close to reaching retirement, there are many things to be excited about— more time to spend on your passions and with the people you love. However, dreams of retirement are often followed closely by concerns about whether you are prepared for this next chapter in your life.

From finances to health care to estate planning, planning for retirement is no simple task. Here are some questions to consider:

 

Should you have long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance is one of those insurance investments you hope you never have to use. However, having long-term care insurance in place can be a powerful tool in protecting your assets, in the event that a medical condition requires you to spend extended time in a care facility.

Medicare will not cover long-term care in all situations or for as long as you may need it. Without long-term care insurance in place, assets you worked hard to earn could be jeopardized by high medical bills.

 

Should you create a Trust?

Whether or not protecting your assets in a revocable or irrevocable Trust is a good choice for you and your family depends on several factors including the extent of your assets, your family dynamic, and other considerations that are unique to your situation.

Creating a trust can generate significant tax benefits, but they can also be a little complicated to form and maintain. Speak with an experienced Myrtle Beach estate planning lawyer to see if creating a Trust is the best option for you.

 

Do you have a valid Will in place?

Executing a Will is something too many people avoid doing. While hopefully you have many great years ahead of you, having a valid Will in place to avoid your estate being divided by South Carolina’s intestate laws is the responsible thing to do.

It is important to know that simply writing down your wishes for how you would like your estate to be divided once you pass does not create a valid Will. Each state has specific requirements for creating a valid will and if your will is not executed properly, it will not be enforceable.

 

Have you considered investing in real estate for passive revenue streams?

Even if you have been saving for retirement for years, having multiple revenue streams once you are no longer working can be a great comfort. Investing in real estate properties is one way you can achieve that goal.

If you choose to invest in real estate, you might consider forming a LLC for maximum asset protection.

 

Do you have an advanced directive in place?

While it may not be pleasant to think about, preparing an advanced directive that informs medical providers of your wishes in the event that you become incapacitated is a good idea for you and your loved ones. Not only will it give you peace of mind knowing that your wishes will be followed, but it will take pressure and stress off of your family in the event something happens to you.

 

For help on how to best prepare for your retirement years, contact Grand Strand Law Group for an experienced estate planning lawyer in Myrtle Beach SC and surrounding areas.

 

05.02.

Things to Know for Your Closing in Myrtle Beach SC

If you are purchasing a home in Myrtle Beach SC, congratulations! While the difficult part of the process should hopefully be over, here’s a list of things you should know as you get ready for your closing.

 

  1. You won’t get your keys until the deed is recorded.

In Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located, you typically do not get the keys until the Deed is recorded. This can be later on the same day as your closing, or, if there is a delay in recording the Deed for some reason, you may need to wait until the next day.  Make sure you plan for this.

 

A delay in recording the deed can be very frustrating—especially when you are excited to move into your new home. But trust us, we do this to protect you.  You see, in the event a third party files a lien against the property at the last minute, we do a last minute update search and will find it, protecting you and your new home.  A few potential reasons why the Deed might not get to the Register of Deeds (ROD) on the same day as the closing might include:

 

  • Seller mailed their documents, and they did not arrive until the next day;
  • Seller did not sign until late in the day and the ROD closes at 4:30pm; or
  • Buyer had a loan and lender did not give funding approval until after 4:30pm.

 

The best way to deal with the possibility of the Deed recording being delayed is to hope for the best and plan for the worst. During your negotiations with the Seller, discuss the possibility of a Pre-Occupancy Agreement.

 

  1. You may be responsible for tax bills that still have the Seller’s name on them.

 

In Horry County, taxes are paid in arrears. This means that if you buy a property between January and October, the taxes will be prorated on your Settlement Statement, but the prorations are an estimate based on the previous year’s tax bill.

 

Your tax bill may not be exactly the same—and you, as the buyer, are responsible for paying the taxes when they become due in December. This is sometimes confusing because the tax bills usually still have the Seller’s name on them since the tax authority does not change their records until January of the next year. So, in other words, don’t forget to pay the taxes in December of the year you purchased the property.

 

  1. You must request the primary residence tax rate.

 

If the property you are purchasing will be your primary residence, you MUST request the 4% tax rate yourself in order to get the primary residence rate. It takes 4-6 weeks for the tax office to process your request. If you fail to file your request, you will likely be taxed at the 6% rate.  If this happens, you usually have to pay the bill, then request a redemption.

 

  1. If the property is an investment property, you must file personal property taxes each year.

 

If the property is an investment property, in order for the County to properly bill the Furniture, Fixtures, and Appliances tax, you must file personal property taxes each year. If you fail to file, the County will assess you a rate themselves, which will likely be much higher than it would have been had you filed your personal property tax forms.

 

These are just a few things to keep in mind as you prepare to close on your new home. If you choose to work with us for your closing, we will guide you through all the details of the process and do our best to ensure the closing process is thorough and efficient.

 

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