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The attorneys and staff of the Upstate Law Group, LLC understand what a difficult time it is when a family member passes away. There are arrangements to be made, creditors to deal with, and family members who each want certain things from the loved one's life. Probate can be a scary and confusing process. The Upstate of South Carolina is fortunate to have very kind and helpful Probate Court staff in their offices; however, having an attorney to help you navigate the process is highly recommended and often necessary.

What does "probate" mean?
In its strictest sense, probate means a process where a Will is admitted by the Court as valid under South Carolina law. There are two kinds of probating of a will - formal and informal. Informal probate admits the will as valid. Formal probate requires a hearing to confirm the validity of the will. If the will has erasures, white-out, or other markings, the Court may require a formal probate proceeding.

Do I need an attorney to probate a will?
For formal probate or appointment, the Courts generally recommend the services of an attorney. The formal probate procedure requires the filing of a Summons/Petition/filing fee and then service of the pleadings on the interested parties, just like a regular lawsuit. A hearing is then set for presentation of testimony. Since a hearing is not required for informal probate and/or informal appointment, an attorney is not always necessary but can be helpful in negotiating with creditors, and to assure the probate is handled correctly so that there are no legal claims that can be made later against the Personal Representative.

How does a Personal Representative get appointed?
Appointment of a Personal Representative is granted informally to a person who has priority under South Carolina law. Usually, the Personal Representative is named in the will by the decedent. However, priority can result through the will, by law, by renunciation, or by termination. Additionally, any person with priority may nominate another. However, a person without priority may only be appointed through formal proceedings. Following service of the formal Summons/Petition, a hearing will be scheduled to determine who is the appropriate person to administer the estate.

What are the duties of the Personal Representative?
The Personal Representative is responsible for collecting, protecting and administering the estate. This includes giving Notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory of the estate, making sure assets are secure during probate time, paying required claims and costs, and making sure the proper people get what they are entitled to receive.

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 attorney-client relationship has been established.