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Probate in South Carolina

South Carolina has a very straightforward, but time-consuming probate process. A full probate estate in South Carolina generally takes at least a year to complete, and depending on complexities, responsiveness of heir/beneficiaries, issues by and among family members, and the Court’s caseload, this process can take longer than a year.

Here is a general timeline of the Full Estate probate process in South Carolina:

Event During Probate Process Deadline and additional Information
Filing of Will If a Will exists, the Will must be filed by person having custody of the will within 30 days of date of death. to the judge of the probate court having jurisdiction to admit the same. South Carolina Probate Code also sets forth penalties against any person who intentionally or fraudulently destroys, suppresses, conceals, or fails to deliver the will to the probate court judge to any person aggrieved for damages sustained by such action or inaction.

S.C. Code § 62-2-901

Qualification of Personal Representative Qualification of a Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator) occurs upon the proper filing of an Application for Informal Probate of a Will or Appointment. An Application for Application for Informal Probate is filed if a Will exists. An Application for Informal Appointment is filed if no Will exists.

In certain circumstances, a Petition for Formal Testacy or Petition for Formal Appointment may be appropriate.

Inform Beneficiaries of Appointment A Personal Representative must inform beneficiaries of his or her appointment no later than 30 days after appointment.

S.C. Code § 62-3-705

Notice to Creditors South Carolina law requires that every Personal Representative must publish a notice to creditors once a week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county announcing his/her appointment and notifying creditors to present their claims within 8 months from the date of the first publication.

S.C. Code § 62-3-801

Inventory of Probate Assets Within 90 days after the date of qualification (when Letters are issued), the Personal Representative must file with the Court an inventory listing it with reasonable detail, and indicating as to each listed item, its fair market value as of the date of the decedent’s death, and the type and amount of any encumbrance that may exist with reference to any item.

S.C. Code § 62-3-706

Closing the Estate Proposal for Distribution & Annual Accounts/Final Account According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-21-2, the Final Account for the estate is due by the later of (1) one year after the date of qualification, (2) six months after a North Carolina estate or inheritance tax release or (3) the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of the fiscal year for the estate, unless the time for filing the Final Account has been extended by the Clerk.

Until a Final Account is filed, the Personal Representative is required to file an Annual Account with the Clerk for so long as estate assets remain within the Personal Representative’s possession or control.

Although uncommon, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-21-6 permits a Personal Representative to provide written notice of a proposed Final Account o all heirs/beneficiaries. This notice is not required, but it provides protection for the Personal Representative from a challenge to the Personal Representative’s actions that might not be raised until after all distributions have been made

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