Why Estate Planning is Important for Everyone, and not Just the Older Population

Many people believe that the time to start estate planning is only for the elderly.  In reality, estate planning is beneficial for anyone who wants to have a say over what happens to them, their property, and to their loved ones. If you are young and healthy, this is probably the furthest thing from your mind, but accidents happen. While we certainly hope this will never happen to you, it is always a good thing to be prepared. (See previous blog "Why it’s a Good Idea to Have a Will!").

If you die without an estate plan, your state legislature will provide one for you. This is referred to as “intestate succession.” If you don’t have an estate plan you have no control over who gets what after you die and this can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress on your family members.


It’s equally important for you to consider what will happen if you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your wishes to medical personnel. Who do you want making your medical decisions for you? The good news is you can dictate who you want to make these decisions for you, and can speak for you when you can’t.


Another integral part of estate planning is financial power of attorney. This is something else to consider in the event you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to handle your own finances. This gives a trusted person of your choosing the power to make financial decisions for you when you cannot.


There are many reasons why it’s important to estate plan. We know it’s not an easy thing to plan for especially if you are young and healthy, but we are here to help if you need us!


Threats are Threats, even over the phone; Unlawful Communication in South Carolina

You know you can get into trouble for what you do, but did you also know you can get into trouble for what you say? This might seem like a no brainer, but how many times have you or someone you know sent an angry text message or made a phone call and said things without thinking? In South Carolina that “heat of the moment” text or phone call could lead to an Unlawful Communication Charge, and you could end up behind bars.
One South Carolina man learned this lesson the hard way when he made threatening phone calls to MUSC where according to an incident report from the MUSC Department of Public Safety, he threatened to shoot hospital security officers. The incident report also stated that he sounded intoxicated. This man is now facing charges of Unlawful use of the telephone, and he deserves it.
So, what’s the lesson to be learned here? You’re probably thinking from a common-sense standpoint; this guy is an idiot. You’re not wrong. However, this also implicates a much bigger problem. Remember, threats are threats even over the telephone, and they have to be taken seriously. This is exactly what authorities in South Carolina did, and this is the way such threats should be handled going forward.
Maybe this loser was just a drunk idiot and would not have committed the crime without government intervention, but in this day and age it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you receive a threat especially about gun violence, report it. If you are the angry person in that scenario, think twice about sending that heat of the moment text message, or making that phone call. 



It’s National Make- a -Will Month!

August is National Make-a-Will Month. We know this probably doesn’t excite you, but it should get you in the planning spirit. There is no better feeling than one of security and peace for your future. Especially knowing that your assets will go exactly where you want, and you will be secure in the knowledge your loved ones will be taken care of. Remember, having a will is important for everyone no matter how much money they have, or if they are young or old. If you are thinking about preparing or updating your will, contact us today! 



Pet Trusts in South Carolina

When you think about estate planning, you most likely think about providing for your family members after your death. For many however, pets are part of their family and they care about what happens to them.  In the past pets were traditionally viewed as property, and any attempt to leave funds to a pet in a will were sadly ineffective. Here at the Law Office of Robert W. Harrell, III, we recognize how important your pets are to you. Here’s how you can provide for your pet in the event of your death.

In 2006 South Carolina passed a pet trust law, allowing people to create a trust for their pets known as a pet trust, much like any other trust. This type of trust can hold funds to be used exclusively for the care of your pet during your pet’s lifetime. You will be able to determine the amount of funds needed to provide for your pet’s needs. This process includes calculating your pet’s average lifespan and determining normal expenses like food and veterinary care.

Now that you know you can provide for your pet financially, what is another benefit of a pet trust? You can name a trusted caretaker in your trust. This can be someone that you know loves animals and is familiar with your pet. This will give you piece of mind that this person is responsible, and will give your pet the quality of life they deserve. You can also name a secondary caretaker in the event the first one is unable to fulfill that duty.

The idea of a pet trust might sound silly to some, but we know how much your pets mean to you. Contact us today to learn more, and for any of your estate planning needs!

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Can you Avoid Probate in SC?

Probate is the legal process that determines how your estate is settled after your death.

In South Carolina if you personally own property, probate will be required even if you have a will.  As you may already be aware, this is an expensive and drawn out process that can be stressful for your beneficiaries.

So, is there a way to avoid probate? In order for your estate to avoid probate, you must own no assets subject to probate at the time of your death. A common way to avoid probate is to put all of those assets in a living trust. This trust will stay in your name and control during your lifetime and then immediately pass to a named successor (trustee) upon your death. The assets owned in this trust will not be subject to probate.


If you are trying to determine whether you should eliminate or minimize the need for probate, you should consult an estate planning attorney. We are here to help you!


What Else You May Need Aside from A Will Cheat Sheet


You might not realize that there are other documents aside from a will that can help to ensure that both you and your family members are taken care of in the event that tragedy strikes.  This cheat sheet will help you understand what else is available to you in addition to your will to help ease your mind.

Health Care Power of Attorney

Purpose:  You can pick who will be making medical decisions for you if you have an injury or other condition that renders you unable to make those decisions for yourself.

Durable Power of Attorney

Purpose:  This document allows you to select who you want to make financial decisions for you if you are unable to make those decisions on your own.  In fact, it only goes into effect in the event that you are unable to make those decisions on your own.

Living Will

Purpose:  This is your way of telling doctors and family members whether you want life- sustaining procedures performed on you.  This often comes into play if you are in a state of permanent unconsciousness, or have a terminal condition. An obvious benefit is that this document takes such heart-breaking decisions out of your family’s hands.

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If you have any questions regarding your current estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact Charleston Estate Planning Attorney Trey Harrell at 843-608-0605 or by sending him an email at Attorney Trey Harrell and his team will walk you through this confusing process and do what they can to make sure your assets go where you desire.




Estate Planning

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How Often Should You Update Your Will

Easy Answer: You should review your will and other estate planning documents every 3-5 years, a change in assets, change in location or after a “life event” …

Periodically you are going to want to go through your list of heirs, representatives, guardians, trustees or executors. Consider whether their circumstances have changed in some way. For example, are they still of sound mind and capable of serving in the role you have designated? Have they passed away? If any of these have changed you are going to want to get with a Charleston Estate Planning Attorney and immediately update your Will.

What is a big life event?

One of the most important times to update or review your estate planning documents is if there is a big change in your life. This big change could be anything from a marriage, a birth of a child, a divorce or even the death of a close friend.

Another life event that should cause you to take a look at your estate planning documents is simply a change in your family or the relationship with your family. Your estate planning documents are your chance to “speak from the grave” or better stated outline exactly how you want your estate handled. This is more than just who gets money or property, in some cases it could be who bares the responsibility for who raises your children.  You want to make sure that your giving that responsibility to someone who can still handle it.

Changes in Assets

If your estate has experienced a substantial increase or decrease in value since you last drafted your will it is essential to take another look and potentially update your estate planning documents. Perhaps you have bought or sold a major asset (new home, quantity of stock, etc.) or started a business. Further, if you have new insurance policies or pension plans for which you can name beneficiaries in your Will then you need to meet with a Charleston Estate Planning Attorney to discuss the options and potential tax consequences.

Changes in Location

Individuals who have relocated to the Lowcountry by moving out of the state where they executed their Will, you should consult a Charleston Estate Planning Attorney to determine whether it is still valid. Typically, if the Will was properly executed according to the law of the state in which it was signed then the Will can pass title to the individuals property. However, this is not something you should leave to chance and you shouldn't assume that your old out of state Will is drafted in a manner that will still protect your assets the way you initially intended.


If you have any questions regarding your current estate plan, please do not hesitate to contact Charleston Estate Planning Attorney Trey Harrell at 843-608-0605 or by sending him an email at Attorney Trey Harrell and his team will walk you through this confusing process and do what they can to make sure your assets go where you desire.

Why It is a Good Idea to Have a Will

It is important to have a will so that your wishes will go into effect at your death.  If you do not have a will, your property and surviving family’s affairs will be governed by statute law in South Carolina. Remember that although the statutes set out guidelines those may not go along with your particular wishes.

Here are some benefits of having a will:

  • You can determine which of your heirs will share in your property (order of priority, and retrospective shares).
  • You can also leave specific items of property to specific people.
  • You can leave shares to a charity of your choice or to your church.
  • If you have minor children or a family member who is unable to look after their own affairs, you can nominate someone in your will to act as guardian or care for the child or family member.
  • You may make gifts into a trust, and appoint a trustee to administer your property to benefit your survivors.
  • You can provide for final disposition of your property held by you and your spouse.

There are many benefits to having a will. We recognize that it’s not easy to think about things like this but at least you can have peace of mind knowing your wishes will be carried out the way you want them to be.

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Preliminary Hearing Cheat Sheet

judgeIf you have been charged with a major crime in South Carolina, you are entitled to a Preliminary Hearing. It is important for you to understand this process. The Law Office of Robert W. Harrell, III, LLC is here to help!

What is a Preliminary Hearing? 

A Preliminary Hearing is a probable cause hearing conducted by a magistrate. The purpose of a Preliminary Hearing is to determine whether there is enough evidence to allow your case to be forwarded to General Sessions.

 What are the Issues to be determined in a Preliminary Hearing

  1. Whether it is more likely than not that the crime occurred
  2. Whether or not the defendant committed the crime

What standard of proof does the judge use in a Preliminary Hearing?

At a Preliminary Hearing the judge uses a probable cause standard. This means that the State does not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Additionally, the rules of evidence do not apply. This means that evidence can be submitted in the hearing that would normally be inadmissible in a trial.

Are Preliminary Hearings Mandatory?

No. Preliminary Hearings are not mandatory. You also do not have to appear even if a hearing is held.

How do you Request a Preliminary Hearing?

To request a Preliminary Hearing, you or your attorney should request one from the court within ten (10) days of bond court.

 What should you expect during the Preliminary Hearing?

During the hearing the State will usually be represented by a law enforcement witness who will offer testimony. Your defense counsel will be able to cross examine this witness.

Do you have the right to testify or offer up a defense during your Preliminary Hearing?

No. During the Preliminary Hearing you do not have a right to testify or offer up your own witnesses. However, at the end of the hearing your attorney can make a motion to dismiss for lack of probable cause.

Should you have any questions regarding a Legal Matter, Please do not hesitate to contact Us:

*Please be aware that the use of this Cheat Sheet does not create an attorney-client relationship. Attorney Trey Harrell is not your attorney until we agree to that in writing. This Cheat Sheet, along with any website to which it links, is designed for educational and informational purposes, not as legal advice. Each person’s legal matter is unique and requires the review of an attorney licensed in that person’s jurisdiction. Attorney Trey Harrell’s office is located at Harrell Square Center, 2000 Sam Rittenberg Blvd. #2002