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Charleston Estate Planning & Asset Protection Blog

Friday, November 16, 2018

What Happens During Probate?

Probate is the process of finalizing the financial affairs of a deceased person. In many cases, a family member is appointed as the Personal Representative to administer the probate estate. Regardless of whether there is a will, the decedent’s property must be distributed to their beneficiaries or heirs, and the final bills must be paid. If you are unsure how to proceed in probate court after the death of a loved one, a South Carolina probate lawyer can help you file the necessary forms to open and estate and guide you through the process step-by-step.

Steps in the Probate Process

Each probate estate is different; however, there are some common steps that every Personal Representative is required to take when administering the estate.

Some of those common steps include:

  • Locate the will or verify that a will did not exist to the best of your knowledge.
  • Complete and file the Application/Petition for Probate of Will or Appointment
  • Creditors must be provided notice that an estate is open. The Notice to Creditors is filed in a local news publication for three weeks.  In many SC counties, the probate court handles this for you.
  • Complete and send the Information to Heirs and Devisees form. If there is a will, you must send notice to the heirs named in the will and any heirs that would inherit property if there were no will.
  • An Inventory and Appraisement must be filed within 90 days of your appointment as the Personal Representative. The Inventory and Appraisement describes all property owned by the deceased and a current value for the property. It is particularly important to search for all assets and include them on the inventory.
  • Typically, creditors have eight months after the first notice in the newspaper to file claims with the estate. It is your job as Personal Representative to review each claim filed with the estate. You need to object to any claims that are filed in error. Before paying any claims, wait until all claims are filed to determine if the estate has sufficient funds to pay all claims. If not, the claims must be paid in a certain order.
  • After the payment of claims, you need to distribute the assets according to the will. If there was no will, the assets are distributed according to the intestate laws of South Carolina. You may need to transfer titles to vehicles and file Deeds of Distribution for real estate.
  • An Accounting may be required to be completed and filed with the court before the Application for Settlement is filed to close the estate.

Do You Need a South Carolina Probate Attorney?

The above steps is not an exhaustive list of all the steps required to probate an estate. Some estates have unique issues that will necessitate hearings before a probate judge. In some cases, heirs or other interested parties may contest the will or file petitions or motions for various claims and issues.

Consulting with a South Carolina probate attorney may be a wise decision for you. A South Carolina probate attorney can handle many of the matters required to probate an estate, thereby reducing the stress you may be under as you try to finalize your loved one’s estate. Schedule a consult with one of our South Carolina probate lawyers today.

 


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Wiles Law Firm, LLC helps clients with their estate planning needs in Charleston, South Carolina and the surrounding areas such as West Ashley, Summerville, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and John's Island.

Information on this website is not legal advice. Further, viewing of the enclosed information does not create an attorney-client relationship with Wiles Law Firm, LLC. Matters will be handled by attorneys who primarily practice out of our office in Charleston County located at 852 Lowcountry Blvd., Ste. 101, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464. M. Emerson Wiles, III is the attorney responsible for this advertisement.

Any result Wiles Law Firm, LLC may achieve on behalf of one client in one particular matter does not necessarily indicate similar results can be obtained for other clients. Please contact a South Carolina estate planning attorney or one of our attorneys with Wiles Law Firm, LLC for a consultation regarding your unique estate plan.



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