Many times people contact our office because a Will has been found among their deceased loved one’s belongings. A common question is what the next step is. The movie depiction of the family attorney reading the Will seldom occurs these days. Instead, the process of administering and distributing the Estate occurs through the process of probate.
Probate of a Will in South Carolina may be either an informal or a formal proceeding. Formal proceedings are subject to more court scrutiny and may be useful in certain circumstances. However, in this post, we will look at the more common informal probate process.
Probate begins by filing the Will along with an Application and a certified copy of the Death Certificate with the Probate Court. The Application is a state-approved form, the 300ES. This filing is done in the county where the decedent resided prior to their death (if you are unsure, see our earlier post on this topic). In some cases, the decedent may have a property in more than one county or state. In those instances, probate still begins in the county of residence, but may also be conducted where the other property is located.
The Application provides the Probate Court information regarding the decedent, the Will, and the Personal Representative. Once the application is received and processed by the Court, the probate process has officially begun and a Personal Representative is appointed to administer the Estate. We have discussed some of the duties of the Personal Representative in prior posts here and here.
If you have been nominated as Personal Representative in a loved one’s Will, an experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the process and ensure you perform your duties properly.