Greenwood, South Carolina attorney James C. Johnson has practiced probate law for over 35 years in the Upstate. Probate law encompasses the handling and resolution of the affairs and assets of a person who has died. This includes:
entering the Will into the court
administration of the deceased persons estate
transfer of ownership of property
resolving debts incurred before death
reimbursement of funeral expenses
other death-related costs
WHAT DOES PROBATING AND ESTATE MEAN
The term "probate" generally refers to the legal process in which a Will is determined to be true and valid. If no Will exists, South Carolina law has specific rules regarding who receives the property from the individual who passed away.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN THE PROBATE PROCESS
After a loved one dies, the first step after grieving is to open the estate. The manner in which the estate is opened is dependent upon what property was owned by the person who passed away. If a Will exists, it may explain who will administer the estate; this person is called the personal representative. If no Will exists, or if the Will does not specific who is to be the personal representative, the court appoints a person to this role.
After appointment of a personal representative (PR), the PR formally notifies the public with a notice of creditor's claim (letting any creditors know that the estate has been opened so that they may claim money is owed to them by the decedent). The PR is the decision maker and authority for the estate (contacting banks, storage units, life insurance companies, and any other potential property-holder of the decedent's property). The PR has to inventory all property and then value it. Later, the PR determines what bills to pay; then, the PR proposes a division of the property. The last step is the court approving the administration of the estate.
WHAT IF THERE'S NO WILL
If the decedent had not valid will, the process is the same as above. The difference is that there is no presumed personal representative ;the court makes this determination. In South Carolina, if there is no Will, specific state law dictates to whom the property goes.
SHOULD I OPEN AN ESTATE IF THERE IS NO WILL
If any property exists, an Estate should be opened. This allows for the court to ascertain what property exists, who is entitled to what property, and what heirs exist. Even if you think the deceased person has no property, that may not be the case. If you fail to open an estate and later determine property does exists, there are specific steps that must be taken.
EXPERIENCED SOUTH CAROLINA PROBATE ATTORNEY
In his decades of practice, clients have asked many probate questions to attorney James C. Johnson. James answers the most frequently asked probate questions on our blog. Such as:
Do I need a Will
I own nothing, why do I need a Will
My family member died in a car wreck; does this affect the probate process
How much does it cost to complete the probate process
How to find out if there is a Will
Who gets paid out of the estate
What is a personal representative
Losing a loved one is never easy. You should not be burdened by the post-death legal processes. If you need a questions answered or would like to have us represent your interests, please give us a call. We understand what you are going through, and we are here to help.