What is the probate process in South Carolina?
Probate refers to the procedure in which a South Carolina court oversees the closing of an estate. The court verifies the will’s validity and ensures that the executor pays the estate’s debts before they follow the decedent’s directives for distributing the remaining assets to the heirs. Here is a summary of the probate steps and some possible complications.
Someone must file the will with the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. Once a clerk verifies that the will is properly signed and witnessed, the following consecutive steps occur:
- Will delivered to a probate judge
- Executor appointed by the court
- Heirs and creditors notified
- Inventory and appraisement of estate assets
- Final accounting and payment of debts and taxes
- Disbursements to heirs
- Close the estate
Although executing the probate steps is straightforward and often completed within a year, complications may arise that prevent the heirs from receiving their bequests for a significant amount of time.
An executor may face many trying circumstances that delay the closing of an estate. Here are a few of these.
Missing heir or beneficiary
It is the executor’s responsibility to notify all the heirs and beneficiaries. If they cannot quickly locate one, it might be necessary to hire outside help to try and find the individual. The amount of time and money the executor is willing to expend may depend on the size of the inheritance.
An executor files a death notice in the newspaper and reviews claims made by creditors. They must also do their due diligence and review the decedent’s paperwork to try and find unpaid debts. This search can be a time-consuming process.
If heirs or beneficiaries are unhappy, they may contest the will. Some valid grounds for contesting a will are the following:
- Mental incompetence of the testator
- Undue influence
- Improper execution of the will
To avoid complications when you pass away, keep your affairs in order, maintain a list of long-term creditors and keep a contact list of your beneficiaries.