Legal Guidance To Navigate The Complexities Of Probate And Estate Administration
Although it is an honor to be designated as an executor of a family member or friend’s probate estate, it is also a position that comes with exceptional responsibility. Administering an estate often involves placing yourself in the middle of contentious legal matters and family infighting. As an administrator of an estate, you may even be personally liable for mistakes made in the process.
At Butler Law, we have over 13 years of experience protecting clients and helping them shoulder this responsibility. We offer experienced legal counsel through each step of the complex process.
Understand The Complex Probate Process
To effectively carry out your duties as an administrator, it is vital that you become familiar with the probate process. The probate process involves, generally, the following series of steps:
- Provide a copy of the deceased’s will to the probate court within 30 days.
- Someone files a petition to open the estate.
- The court opens the estate and appoints a personal representative (also known as the executor) to administer the estate.
- The court files notice of the death in a local newspaper to allow creditors and others time to file claims against the estate.
- The personal representative then sends notices to heirs of the estate being opened and allows them to contest the will.
- The estate assets are appraised and inventoried.
- Payments are made to creditors, and the personal representative provides proof of payments to the court.
- Funds left in the estate after settling all debts are distributed to devisees per the terms of the last will, or if there is no last will, to the heirs per the state statute.
- The personal representative files final documents with the court to close the estate and obtains a certificate of discharge, officially closing the estate.
Practical Legal Representation For Estate Probate Concerns
Attorney Dan Butler often represents out-of-state clients with a family member who dies in South Carolina. Under South Carolina law, if the deceased owned real or personal property in South Carolina, this property will need to go through the probate administration process, unless such property was owned in trust or titled in a manner that bypasses probate (such as real property where title is held jointly with a right of survivorship; a car title held jointly with the word “or” used between the names; checking account where “paid on death” beneficiary designated; etc.).
Our professional law firm also helps those charged with the responsibility of estate administration with legal concerns, including probate litigation and will contests.