Charleston Estate Planning Attorneys

Let the Estate Planning lawyers of Ayers Family Law help you understand the most important elements of an estate plan today. Even a relatively simple estate plan provides for the management of your wealth while you are alive and the distribution of your assets upon death, but a comprehensive plan can accomplish far more. Your estate plan should protect you, your assets, and your loved ones, while you’re alive and long after.

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Why Is Estate Planning So Important?

The goal of any well-constructed estate plan is to clearly outline the distribution of your estate assets after your death. Estate plans assist in minimizing tax liability upon death. In the absence of an estate plan, the State of South Carolina will determine what happens to your assets when you die. Don’t let the State decide what happens to a lifetime of hard work.

What Can an Estate Plan Accomplish?

In addition to providing a road map for the distribution of your assets upon death, a comprehensive estate plan will also protect and even grow your estate assets while you are still alive. Without a solid plan in place while you’re living, there may not be any assets left to distribute when you die. A comprehensive estate plan may include components, such as:

  • Business succession planning
  • Tax and probate avoidance
  • Incapacity planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Special needs planning
  • Medicaid planning

Each of these components above are meant to work independently and collectively to protect your assets while alive and long after your death.

Most Common Estate Planning Documents

Several types of documents might be used in the building of your Estate Plan. Each is important in its own way, and together they form a powerful representation of your final wishes. 


States what you wish to happen and who you prefer to care for any children or dependent you’re responsible for after your death or in the event you’re no longer able to care for them. Most often, instructions for guardianship will be included in a section of your Will as well.


A legal document that expresses your last wishes for distribution of your property and other assets.


A legal three-party fiduciary agreement that allows the first party (Trustor or Grantor) to give the second party (the Trustee) rights to hold assets and property on behalf of and for the benefit of the third party (the Beneficiary). 

Special Needs Trust

A legal fiduciary agreement that allows an individual who is mentally or physically handicapped to continue to receive income (from trust assets) without reducing their ability to receive benefits related to their disability (Social Security. Medicare, Social Security Income).

Financial Power of Attorney (POA)

A legal document that gives someone the power to handle your financial affairs.

Durable Power of Attorney (POA)

A variation of a Financial Power of Attorney, which is a document that gives legal rights to another person so they can handle any of your non-health or non-medical affairs. “Durable” simply means that even if you become incapacitated, the POA remains in effect. 

Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD)

Also sometimes referred to as a Living Will or a Medical Power of Attorney. An Advance Healthcare Directive directly states what, if any, medical actions should be taken if you become incapacitated and unable to make your own decisions. 

Note: it’s important to understand that while the terms “Living Will,” “Medical Power of Attorney” and “AHCD” are commonly used interchangeably, there are legal distinctions between them. 

  • A Living Will lets you specify your medical preferences (typically for end-of-life decisions, like life support).
  • A Medical Power of Attorney lets you designate someone else to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so.
  • An AHCD combines the Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney to let you give instructions but also designate someone else to make decisions for you if needed.

If you’re ready to take this important step in protecting your legacy and providing for your loved ones with a comprehensive Estate Plan, get in touch with Emily Ayers or Melissa Syracuse today.

Schedule a Free Consultation Here.