If a loved one has passed away in Charleston County, their estate must go through probate before any property can be passed down to the rightful heirs. Navigating the Charleston, SC Probate Court can be a difficult and trying process. Our Charleston, SC probate lawyers can help.
Below, our Charleston, SC probate attorneys have briefly outlined the probate process in Charleston County in an effort to answer questions you my have about the Charleston probate procedure. First, the estate must be opened in the Charleston County Probate Court and a Personal Representative must be named to administer the estate. The personal representative has many duties which are outlined below. Our Charleston, SC probate attorneys can help you get appointed personal representative of your loved one's Charleston, SC estate.
A Charleston probate attorney can help you fulfill your duties as Personal Representative, make sure the assets are properly and promptly distributed to those who are entitled to them, and make sure you are paid any Personal Representative fee you are entitled to if you should want such a fee. Additionally, attorney’s fees are paid from the estate and not your own pocket.
Opening the Estate in Charleston County, SC
After a person passes away in Charleston, SC, his or her estate must be opened in the Charleston County Probate Court located in downtown Charleston. If they have a will it must be filed with the Charleston Probate Court. If you are named Personal Representative for the estate you have certain legal duties to the estate and to the potential heirs. South Carolina law requires the Personal Representative to send certain information to the heirs and devisees of the estate, to provide a complete inventory and appraisement of the estate’s assets, to preserve the estate property until it is distributed to the beneficiaries, and to notify potential creditors that the estate has been opened. All these duties must be performed by certain deadlines imposed by the Charleston Probate Court.
If there are creditors, they must be paid in order according to their creditor status. A Personal Representative can be held liable to the heirs or creditors of the estate if he or she improperly distributes assets or improperly pays creditors’ claims. Often time creditors file claims with estates in Charleston that should not be paid or can that can be negotiated to a lesser amount. Hiring a Charleston probate attorney to examine these claims can result in less money paid to creditors and, therefore, more money to be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.
If real estate is a part of the estate, whether located in Charleston or elsewhere, a deed of distribution must be executed to transfer ownership. The use of a Charleston probate lawyer to prepare a deed of distribution is strongly recommended by the Charleston Probate Court. If real estate must be sold, a very specific Court procedure must be followed.
Closing the Estate
Before an estate can be closed several documents must be completed and filed with the Charleston Probate Court, including a complete accounting of the entire Charleston probate administration (assets received during the course of administration, disbursements/bills paid out, and balance to be distributed to the beneficiaries), a proposal of distribution of the assets to all the heirs, a petition for settlement, and a notice to all of the heirs. These documents must be sent to all heirs in a specific manner.
The Charleston, SC Probate Court
The Charleston Probate Court staff is usually willing to help Personal Representatives. The Charleston Probate Court staff cannot, however, give legal advice to a Personal Representative, like to how assets should be distributed or how creditors should be paid. A Charleston, SC Probate Attorney can help you make sure you fulfill your duties as Personal Representative, make sure the assets are properly and promptly distributed to those who are entitled to them, and make sure you are paid any Personal Representative fee you are entitled to if you should want such a fee. Remember, attorney’s fees are paid from the estate if funds are available and not your own pocket.