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Estate Administration

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 can not 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 assets.

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.


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