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BuildingLawyers, like doctors are becoming specialists. The complex nature of the estate and gift tax and probate laws makes it almost a necessity that lawyers specialize. In South Carolina, lawyers who specialize in Estate Planning and Probate Law and Taxation Law and who meet certain requirements (including a test) can be designated as a Certified Specialist. The number of certified specialists are limited in South Carolina and a list of those who are certified may be obtained from the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization of the South Carolina Supreme Court. You will find that W. Steven Johnson and William M. Reynolds III are certified specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. Arthur “Artie” White III has been awarded his LL.M. in Taxation from University of Florida.

Estate planning clients typically call in to set a first appointment and are sent a package of information which contains a checklist which should be completed prior to the first conference for estate planning. Since we bill hourly for most matters, completing the checklist and being organized at the time of the first conference saves us time and thus saves you money. There is no charge for being sent the initial information which explains the estate planning process and contains a booklet written by Al Todd with a diagrammatic explanation of most of the principles of estate planning.

Probate matters, estate settlement, and trust administration questions are generally also handled on an hourly basis. We have extensive experience in all aspects of probate law including preparing and filing probate court forms, answering probate tax questions and preparing all required estate tax returns as well as fiduciary income tax returns necessary for estate and trust administration. Much of the work of estate settlement can be done by the individual named as the Personal Representative. However, there are numerous opportunities for tax savings and tax planning which are easily overlooked without professional advice. If a client has a relationship with a CPA and or other financial advisors who need to be involved as part of the settlement process we are happy to work with them. Todd and Johnson, LLP., may have either a broad or limited representation in assisting in settling the estate.

Charitable gift planning is a matter which the firm particularly enjoys. Many of our clients are generous supporters of churches, universities, hospitals, museums, nursing homes and other charities. Planning for tax wise giving is one of the matters that the firm is often involved with because the manner in which a gift is made determines the true net cost to the donor. In simplest of terms, a $100,000 bequest from an estate being taxed in a 50% bracket costs the family $50,000 and takes $50,000 that would otherwise be paid in taxes away from the government. Thus the $100,000 that goes to charity comes $50,000 from uncollected estate taxes and $50,000 from family. Thus properly planned, charitable gifts may appropriately be thought of as a matching gift program from the government.


 
     
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