Going through probate without a will in South Carolina
Although you may not want to consider estate planning, failing to make plans for your estate may negatively impact your loved ones. Specifically, if you do not leave a will, your estate becomes subject to intestate succession laws in South Carolina. This makes the probate process more complex for your loved ones.
Role of the probate court
A probate court’s primary responsibility involves taking care of a dead person’s finances. Probate courts handle a deceased individual’s assets and debts. If you do not leave a valid will, the court may also determine which parties can inherit your assets.
Typically, the probate court will resolve each of the following:
- Selection of a personal representative
- Validation of creditors
- Right of heirs to make a claim
- Validation of the will’s legal status
Probate court role in cases without a will
Although your estate will go through the probate process whether or not you have a will, your estate will need to undergo additional probate court scrutiny without a will. In these cases, the probate court will have to do the following:
- Resolve family disputes about heirs
- Establish a set amount of time for creditors to establish a claim
- Remove money from accounts
- Transfer titles
Assets probate courts do not handle
Although much of your estate may pass through the probate court, certain assets do not qualify for the probate process. These include the following:
- Assets included in a living trust
- Life insurance with beneficiaries
- Retirement accounts with beneficiaries
- Transfer on death properties or vehicles
- Properties with a joint tenancy
- Accounts established with payable-on-death status
Going through probate court may not involve a difficult process. However, the process may take up more of your loved ones’ time and money if your estate planning does not include a will.