The Probate Process: The Role of the Personal Representative

South Carolina Estate Planning | Probate Process

The probate process creates a judicial procedure by which a deceased individual by appropriate estate property and assets in accordance with existing estate planning devices. The last will and testament or simple will outlines the disposition of an estate, or if there is no last will and testament or simple will, then the estate will be divided out according to South Carolina Probate Codes. Because South Carolina Probate Codes provide general guidelines for estate disposition that may not advantageous in every case, it is important to construct an estate planning instrument to ensure that this does not happen and to be certain that the probate process will best serve the interests of loved ones.

Assuming there is a valid last will and testament, the probate process will proceed in the decided county of residence. It is important to remember that the personal representative, formerly known as the executor, must file the the last will and testament within thirty days of the death of the grantor. Once the will has been admitted into the probate process, the personal representative must file a petition to actualize their role as the personal representative. This action must also be completed within a month of the grantor’s death; otherwise, the South Carolina probate court will appoint a personal representative of their choosing. There are a few rare extenuating circumstances that may grant the personal representative an extended opportunity past the thirty day window, however this event is an exception and not the norm.

The probate process then proceeds according to the action of the personal representative and his/her estate administration duties. At this point, the personal representative will be tasked with assembling all of the assets, appraising all of the assets, paying the debts of the estate, and settling the remainder of the estate. The personal representative will also be responsible for filing the estate tax returns nine months after the death of the grantor and for filing other necessary estate income tax returns in a timely manner. Because of the many duties required of the personal representative, the probate process will usually last a minimum of 8 months, but often longer. Our Charleston probate attorneys provide legal counsel to our clients help them explore the many options and routes in the probate process. Please call or email our estate planning law firm to further discuss your particular interests with one of our attorneys.