Understanding the Truth About the South Carolina Probate Process

A quick Google search inquiring about the probate process will turn up a wide variety of results. Some estate planning attorneys will tell you to avoid it at all costs – raising concerns about privacy, time, cost, and individuals contesting the estate. Other sites will tell you there’s nothing to worry about as long as you properly establish and meticulously detail your estate plan.

All of this noise and, in some cases, misinformation generates nerves for families who are preparing for the process. Our goal is to calm some of those nerves and present some of the facts surrounding probate in South Carolina.

Probate Protects Your Personal Representative

Your personal representative should be a trusted individual who you believe can and will carry out your best wishes in executing your estate plan. When you go to probate court, officials will formalize this process and officially appoint your personal representative to carry out their specific duties.

The only time this becomes more of a risk is if your personal representative is deemed unable to perform those duties – whether by death, disability, or concerns about their integrity. This is why choosing the right person for the role will be an integral part of your plan.

Wills Go to Probate, but Some Trusts Do Not

If you left funds and assets in a will then the will must go through probate court to verify the details of your estate. Probate is a way of confirming what assets are claimed and ensuring the proper debts are addressed before any assets or funds are transferred to your beneficiaries.

However, when you establish and fully “fund” a trust then this portion of your estate can avoid probate. Additionally, if you have assets that have a survivorship clause and/or are titled jointly then the surviving spouse will receive those assets. The same can be said for assets like bank accounts or other financial funds that have beneficiary designations built in.

Creditors Will Be Given an Opportunity to Claim Debts

When you enter probate, all creditors who are owed a debt by the decedent will be notified of the opening of the estate. This gives them time, determined based on the size of the estate, to make a claim.

It’s important to note that the creditors cannot make a claim against your beneficiaries or loved ones – they only have a right to take the portion they are owed directly from what is left in the estate. Creditor claims take place before any assets or funds are transferred.

An Attorney Can Make the Process Painless

Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you navigate the South Carolina probate process. You should be aware, however, that some estate planning attorneys do not take on probate cases.

At Charleston Estate Planning Law Firm, we help our clients navigate estate planning from beginning to end. We can help you establish and modify your plan and then work with your loved ones to ensure the probate process goes off without a hitch. Contact our firm and find peace of mind in the South Carolina probate process.

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Charleston Estate Planning Law Firm

At the Charleston Estate Planning Law Firm, we believe that estate planning is all about protecting your family and loved ones in the event of your incapacity or death.

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