Summerville Probate Attorneys
Helping Clients in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties
Our skilled probate lawyers at PMC Law Firm have years of experience handling a variety of probate administration and litigation matters. If you have questions about what to expect from the probate process or feel your interests need to be protected, please get in touch with our legal team today.
Why Do I Need a Probate Attorney?
There's no reason to go through the probate process alone. Probate administration and litigation can be complicated and confusing if you don’t have a background in law.
The experienced probate team at PMC Law Firm has a team of lawyers dedicated exclusively to dealing with South Carolina probate courts and every issue they handle. Our team includes former Probate Judge Tiffany Provence, former Probate Court law clerk David Causey and former estate clerk Gail Elmore. With a combined 40+ years of courthouse experience, we have the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle your case.
Whether you need advice about administering your estate or want to pursue a will contest, we will gladly take the time to discuss your probate concerns. We will help you understand all of your options under the law.
Probate Law Cases We Handle
Our probate and estate attorneys can assist with all aspects of probate law. We can put our experience to work for you in navigating the probate court.
We provide legal advice and representation on the following aspects of probate and estate law:
- Estate Planning - A solid estate plan can help ensure your wishes are clear to your family members when you pass. We can help you maximize estate tax benefits, prepare for incapacity, and potentially avoid the probate process. We are proud to assist non-traditional and blended families with their unique estate needs.
- Probate Litigation - Our attorneys assist with will contests, trust disputes, and accusations of trust mismanagement. If you believe a loved one's will was not properly executed, or that your estate's executor committed a breach of fiduciary duty, reach out to us for assistance. Likewise, we can defend you as an executor if you face accusations with beneficiaries of the estate.
- Conservatorships & Guardianships - If you need to appoint a guardian or conservator for a loved one, we can guide you through the process. We can also represent you if you fall on any side of a conservatorship or guardianship dispute. Our lawyers also assist with guardian ad Litem cases.
- Estate Administration - Our lawyers can provide legal guidance through the estate administration process and probate. We communicate with executors and beneficiaries in distributing assets of the estate. We can also provide assistance with beneficiary or creditor claims to the estate.
- Wills & Trusts - We provide high-quality counsel on the creation of wills and trusts. We can work to ensure your will is legally valid and identify the best trusts to protect your assets.
Do you need to talk to a qualified lawyer about an important probate matter in Summerville? Then give us a call today at (800) 914-0620 to schedule your case consultation with a member of our legal team.
What are Non-Probate Assets?
Assets that are not required to go through probate are commonly referred to as “non-probate assets.” This term simply refers to any assets which transfer automatically at the time of death, and therefore aren’t considered an asset of the estate.
Here are some common examples of assets that might be classified as non-probate:
Life Insurance: If there is a proper beneficiary named on the life insurance policy, the
proceeds of the life insurance do not pass through probate and instead
go directly to the named beneficiary (or beneficiaries). This is one reason
that life insurance is such a great estate planning tool.
- One caveat here: Always make sure your insurance beneficiary designations are accurate. If you get a divorce, your beneficiary predeceases you or you fail to name one, the default rule is that proceeds become payable to the estate of the policyholder. In that scenario, you’ve just failed to take advantage of a great opportunity to avoid taxes, probate fees, and creditors.
- Retirement Accounts: Most retirement accounts allow for the naming of a beneficiary. When you name a beneficiary (or two, or three), the beneficiaries are automatically entitled to the assets in the account at the time of death. Similar to life insurance policies, failing to name a beneficiary or not updating your beneficiary can destroy this benefit. It’s important to discuss with your investment advisor and attorney how these accounts should be considered in your estate planning.
- Payable on Death (POD) Accounts: Bank and brokerage accounts can also have designated beneficiaries. While it’s advisable to make sure there is some cash in your estate to handle funeral bills, probate fees and other expenses, transferring the bulk of your cash using a POD account is a smart strategy.
- Property Held Jointly with Rights of Survivorship: Your real property, vehicles, boats, and other titled assets can be set up in this structure so that upon death, the interest automatically conveys to the other owners. While this is great for a spouse or to transfer assets to an only child, make sure to understand why you should be careful when using this as an estate planning tool if you’re single, remarried or have more than one child! More information on that can be found here.
- Trust Assets: Any asset transferred to a trust prior to death is considered a non-probate asset. The reason is simple, probate only controls assets owned by the decedent at his/her time of death. Assets in a trust are in control of the trust, not the decedent, and therefore don’t require probate.
The Importance of Updating Your Estate Plan
This information is important both for personal representatives handling an estate and for clients doing estate planning.
The rules that must be filled to keep them classified as “non-probate” also highlight the importance of checking your titles, beneficiaries and estate plan regularly to make sure everything is in place. So many events can trigger a need to update your planning including the birth of a child, divorce, death of a beneficiary, change of employment, purchase of property and more.
Need assistance with a probate issue in Summerville? Reach out to us at (800) 914-0620 to arrange a consultation with our skilled legal experts.
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Over a Century of Combined Legal Experience