If you are married and you die without a Will, you may mistakenly believe that your spouse will still inherit your entire estate. Not so fast. Who will inherit your estate depends on several different factors:
1. How is your Property Titled?
Is your property titled in your name alone, in joint names with your spouse, in joint names with a child or other relative, or does it have a beneficiary designated? Knowing how all of your property is titled is the real key to understanding who will inherit it after you die. For example, if your home is titled in joint names with rights of survivorship with your spouse, then your spouse will inherit the home. However, if you have no Will and it is titled in your name alone, then your spouse may or may not inherit the entire home. If you have kids, they will inherit half of your interest while your spouse will only receive the other half. These laws are referred to as “intestacy laws.”
2. What Do South Carolina’s Intestacy Laws Say?
You may be surprised to learn that the intestacy laws of South Carolina do not require the entire estate of a deceased married person to be distributed to their surviving spouse. In SC, the surviving spouse must divide the estate with the deceased spouse’s children, if any, and potentially even grandchildren or further descendants. When real estate is involved, this may lead to a family feud. Will children (or step-children) force the surviving spouse to buy them out? Or, what if the surviving spouse wants to sell the real estate but the children want to keep it? This could result in leaving your family with quite a mess.
3. What Should You Do?
If you are married and you want your spouse to inherit all of your property, then the only way to be assured that this will happen is to consult with an experienced South Carolina estate planning attorney. The attorney will be able to review how all of your assets are titled and then help you determine the options for making sure that your spouse will be the only beneficiary of your estate.
Contact Hamrick Law to Ensure Your Assets Pass the Way You Want!