Estate administration is the process by which a deceased’s person’s assets are
gathered, taken possession of by the Personal Representative, inventoried, and
ultimately distributed upon the closing of the probate estate. Of course, the purpose of estate
administration is to serve as a “title clearing house.” In other words, assets
indefinitely remain titled in the name of a deceased person. A deceased
person can't sign a car title or deed to real estate which are actions required to
sell or transfer such pieces of property.
Someone who is legally empowered to act on behalf of the
deceased person must sign titles, deeds, and the like to sell
and/or properly transfer estate property to heirs and others.
Significant Steps in the Probate Process:
1) Delivery of the Will:
If the deceased executed a will
during their lifetime, then that will is to be delivered to the Probate Court in
the county where the deceased resided within thirty (30) days of death.
2) Application for Appointment of Personal
Representative: Regardless of whether or not the deceased passed away with a will, if he or she died owning
personal property (car, boat, antiques, checking account, certificate of
deposit, etc.) or real estate (home, vacation house, rental property, farm land,
vacant land, etc.) then a Personal Representative needs to be appointed by the
Probate Court. Once appointed by the Probate Court, the Personal Representative is the
only person who can legally
sign on behalf of the deceased or his/her estate. Remember that all authority granted to a person under a
durable power of attorney expires upon the death of the person
granting the power of attorney.
3) Running of the Creditor’s Claim Period: Once the Personal Representative has
been appointed by the Probate Court, he or she is required to publish in a local
newspaper a notice to creditors announcing his or her appointment and notifying
all potential creditors to present their claims against the deceased within
eight (8) months or forever be barred. Therefore, the estate administration process generally takes between
eight months and one year to complete.
4) Inventory: Within ninety (90) days of the appointment of the Personal
Representative, an Inventory and Appraisement of the deceased’s assets is due to
the Probate Court. The Inventory
document provides a detailed listing of the deceased’s assets, along with a
value for each asset. Many Personal
Representatives choose to retain the services of an appraiser, either for
purposes of valuing real estate and/or personal property.
5) Accounting and Distribution of Estate Assets: At the conclusion of the
creditor’s claim period, the Personal Representative must file with the Probate
Court an Accounting of all probate estate expenses and costs incurred during
estate administration. Such expenses and costs often include funeral expenses,
creditor’s claims, attorney’s fees, utility bills, income and property taxes,
etc. The Personal Representative should not distribute estate
assets until the conclusion of the creditor’s claim period, and when estate
assets are ultimately distributed (either pursuant to the deceased’s will or South Carolina
law) the Personal Representative must have each
person who receives an estate asset sign a Receipt, Release and Waiver.
6) Once the Probate Court approves the Accounting and is in receipt of all
the required Receipt, Release and Waivers signed by people who received estate assets, then the Court will discharge
the Personal Representative from any further duty to the deceased and the deceased’s
Estate administration is a highly involved process that lasts approximately one
year. The Upstate Law Group, LLC stands ready to assist families and Personal Representatives in
properly administering estates and navigating through the probate process. Please do not hesitate to contact the
Upstate Law Group, LLC, to advise you and help you through this process.
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal
advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual
situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and
electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Please do not send any confidential or time-sensitive information to us until such time as an
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