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What is the Probate Process in SC?

What is the probate process in SC? This question is often asked by individuals in SC that have lost a loved one and may need to go through the probate process. The probate process is one whereby a decedent’s assets who is the person that has passed away are transferred to the living beneficiaries or heirs. During part of this legal process, the court is tasked with validating the last will and testament of the decedent, settling existing debts, and distributing assets to the heirs.

Most of the time when an individual passes away they often leave behind the last wishes and instructions about their estate in a last will and testament. During the probate process, the legal document is verified in order to prove its legitimacy. However, in the absence of a will, it may still be necessary for the court to carry out the probate process in order to decide how the assets of the decedent will be distributed to those left behind.

For the probate process to take off it is important for the executor to get in touch with the local court, file papers, or a petition and from there the process can begin within a certain period of time depending on the size and the value of the estate. Most of the time the state will offer the heirs or beneficiaries an option that will help them avoid a long and tedious process if they agree to it. However, depending on how big the estate is at times individuals tend to disagree and may have to court and need a probate attorney to help them through the process.

Probate Timeline in South Carolina

It is necessary to go through the process of probate in order for permission to act on the last will and testament to be granted. The process of probate can take anywhere between 4 to 8 months and depends on a variety of factors. If the will is simple the process will be much shorter. If inheritance tax applies to a situation then probate is likely to take longer.

There are instances where probate will not be required. One of these circumstances is if the value of the estate is low and everything that decedent owned is going to be left to the other person’s spouse. Even as this is the case it is important to verify if the issues revolving around your process are simple and you can do this by asking for help from a probate specialist.

a scale, law books, and documents on an attorney's desk

Unlike some other legal processes, there isn’t a time limit when it comes to applying for probate. However, some legal processes such as applying for compensation can be disqualified due to lateness. Also, you will not be fined or penalized for a late application.

Even as this is the case it delaying the process of applying for the process may not be the best decision. You are advised to as soon as you can apply for probate.

How Long Does Probate Take in South Carolina?

There is generally a difference between the process of probate in both the formal and informal setup. In the informal setup, the probate process takes a shorter time and is certainly much simpler.

The formal probate process on the other hand in South Carolina is open for a period of at least 8 months. This gives an opportunity to creditors to submit their claims against the estate. However, some of these estates will be open for a longer period of time so as to allow for any other issues or delays that may come up. In the case where another individual contests the will the court is likely to have a hearing on the matter at hand which will result in any other proceeding getting delayed.

Large estates can be kept open for more than one year. In some instances, it can take a longer time to settle estate issues and close the probate process. Predicting how long the probate process will take is a bit difficult. In South Carolina, you do not really require an attorney in the probate process but having one will help your process move a bit speedier than when you are trying to go through the process alone.

Can You Simplify the Probate Process?

The probate process in South Carolina is a bit more simplified when dealing with small estates. For you to use the simplified probate process as an executor you will need to file a written request directed to a local probate court whereby you are asking to use a simplified procedure. It is possible for the court to authorize the executor to go on and distribute the assets without them having to go through the regular probate process.

a probate court hearing form and a pen on a desk

If the value of the property or real estate is $25,000 or less you can go through the simplified probate process. The amount is calculated without including the cost of administration, exempt property, medical costs incurred as a result of their last illness, and funeral expenses. The process can as well be shorter if there are no other heirs and the executor is the sole beneficiary.

How to Start the Probate Process in South Carolina?

In order to get started with probate, a petition should be filed in order to open probate in the county court where the decedent lived before passing away. The court then approves an executor or manager to manage the estate. The executor is then tasked with notifying the beneficiaries and the creditors of the death of the deceased. All of the assets should have been gathered and their value is known.

The state of South Carolina is generous when it comes to its filing probate timeline. Section 62-3-108 of Title 62 states that in order for a petition to be considered it is a must for probate to be filed within a period of ten years after an individual dies.

If you are looking for a lawyer to guide you through the probate process in South Carolina you can get in touch with a probate lawyer from Trey Merck Law. We can guide you, advise you, and walk you through the court process. Get in touch to book your first initial consultation and let us answer your important probate questions.

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