Dealing with the passing of a loved one is undoubtedly a difficult and traumatizing time for a family. Yet, there are various legal matters that need to be addressed, one of which is the probate process. During this time, the family must begin dealing with the financial matters of the deceased person’s estate, including distributing, managing, and settling the estate with court supervision.
What is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process of managing a dead person’s financial affairs, validating their will, and administering their assets to the named beneficiaries. The probate process is usually supervised by the court and involves several steps to ensure the deceased person’s assets are properly distributed.
During the probate process, the court determines the authenticity of the will and ensures that it fulfills all legal requirements. Where there is no will, or it is considered invalid, the court will apply state laws of intestacy to determine how the deceased person’s assets will be administered.
What Assets Go Through Probate
During the probate process in South Carolina, some assets go through probate while others may bypass it. Some of the assets that are subject to probate include:
- Personal belongings and household items: Personal belongings and household items will go through the process unless specifically addressed in a will or trust.
- Solely-owned property: All properties solely owned by the deceased person will be subject to probate. This includes vehicles, real estate, valuable personal belongings, and jointly-held bank accounts.
- Investments and financial accounts: The deceased person’s investment accounts, such as bonds, mutual funds, and bonds, will go through probate. Financial accounts such as savings and checking accounts that are solely in the dead person’s name will typically undergo probate.
- Retirement accounts: Although retirement accounts generally have designated beneficiaries, if the beneficiaries were not named or predeceased the dead person, these accounts may be subject to probate.
Assets that usually bypass probate
- Jointly-owned property
- Trust assets
- Assets with designated beneficiaries
- Assets in a pension plan
How the Probate Process Works in South Carolina
The probate process begins by filing an application with the probate court in South Carolina. After reviewing the application, the court will appoint a personal representative or executor to administer the estate. The next step is to notify the intended heirs and beneficiaries. Anyone who believes they should inherit but was left out can dispute this step.
The executor should identify, value, and inventory the assets owned by the deceased. They will then notify the known creditors of the estate and make the necessary payments. Upon paying all debts and expenses, the executor can begin administering the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will.
Contact Rivers Law Today to Speak with an Experienced Aiken Probate Attorney
The legal team at Rivers Law LLC is ready to help you with all your needs regarding probate in South Carolina. Get in touch with us at (803) 266-2290 to schedule a consultation with probate attorney, Martha Rivers, to learn your legal options.