The lawyers of Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., know how challenging it can be to lose a loved one. While it may be the last thing you want to think about, settling the estate that your parent, spouse, sibling or other family member left behind will need to be done. This is the “probate” process.
What is Probate?
- Distributing assets
- Paying debts
- Making sure that tax obligations are met in a timely manner
We believe an attorney can play an important role in making sure this process goes as smoothly as possible and can help to relieve – not add to – the stress that you may be experiencing during this difficult time.
When you are ready to take the first steps in settling your loved one’s estate, or if you have questions about a probate process that has already begun, please call or reach us online.
We are a family-run law firm that serves clients in Manning and throughout surrounding communities in South Carolina, including Bishopville, Mayesville, Summerton, Sumter and Turbeville. We would be glad to speak with you today.
What Happens in the South Carolina Probate Process?
To better understand the services that our lawyers can provide to you, it may help you to know more about how the probate process works in South Carolina.
When your loved one dies, he or she may leave behind many assets and debts that will need to be distributed and paid. This is called the “estate.”
Common assets are:
- Home or other real estate
- Vehicles (car, motorcycle, boat)
- Household goods (TV or appliances)
- Valuables (such as jewelry)
- Stocks and bonds
- Bank account (cash)
Common debts are:
- Mortgage (or second mortgage)
- Vehicle loan (financing)
- Other secured, personal loans
- Credit cards
- Student loans
The person who will take care of these matters is the “personal representative,” or PR. If your loved one died with a valid will, the executor named in the will can serve as the PR. If your loved one did not have a will, you could petition the local Probate Court to be named as the PR.
The PR’s responsibility is to protect the estate’s assets for those who are designated as beneficiaries in the will and to settle the estate as expeditiously as possible. The PR’s duties include:
- Collecting and preparing an inventory of all estate assets
- Satisfying creditors to whom debts are owed
- Paying all South Carolina and federal tax obligations
- Making sure all will devisees (named in a will) or heirs (those entitled to inherit property from a person who has not left a will) are paid or receive other property bequeathed to them
- Closing the estate
The PR will need to ensure that proper forms are filed with the local Probate Court and that notices are properly given to all heirs, devisees and creditors.
Even though a PR may receive a fee for performing these duties, he or she will also face personal liability if things go wrong such as taxes or debts going unpaid. (For this reason, some people choose to decline serving as a PR.)
It is important to note that not all property will come under a PR’s control – only property that is subject to being “probated.” For instance, if a life insurance policy names a beneficiary, those funds would not be probated. If a person created a certain type of trust, that would not be probated, either.
How Can a South Carolina Probate Lawyer Help You?
Now that you have a better idea of how the probate process works in South Carolina, you may see the several areas in which a lawyer from Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., can help you. These areas include:
- Petitioning to be named as the PR – We can help you to assess the benefits and risks of being the PR, and we can assist with petitioning the Probate Court. If you are named the PR, we can represent you if you are sued at any point.
- Interpreting your loved one’s will – Your main goal should be to have your loved one’s property pass according to his or her wishes. We can examine the will to determine whether it is valid and help you with understanding the provisions in the will.
- Seeking an entitled inheritance – If you are a spouse or child who was not provided for in a family member’s will, you may still be entitled to inherit a portion of the estate. We can help you with filing your rightful claim.
- Conducting an estate inventory – We can work with investigators, accountants and appraisers to make sure your loved one’s estate is properly inventoried. We can also help you to liquidate the estate’s assets, if needed, and with accounting for all of the assets.
- Paying creditors – It is crucial to give proper notice to creditors, determine whether a creditor’s claim is valid and to pay a creditor in the proper order. We can assist with paying all valid debts that are owed. If you are a creditor, we can assist you in collecting the debt owed to you.
- Handling tax obligations – If the estate is worth a certain amount or earns income, state and federal taxes will need to be paid. If you are the PR, we can make sure those taxes are satisfied so that you face no liability.
- Closing the estate – If you are the PR, we can take you through all of the steps that are needed to close the estate, including a final accounting and filing for a termination of your appointment as the PR.
In general, working with an attorney can be beneficial to you as you go through the process of settling your loved one’s estate or if you are a party with an interest in the estate of another.
Contact a South Carolina Probate Attorney Today
At Land, Parker & Welch, P.A., we can provide the careful, skilled legal representation you need when settling the estate of a loved one or when pursuing an estate claim that you believe you are rightfully entitled to receive.
We have more than 120 years of combined legal experience. We can put our background in South Carolina probate law to work for you today. Simply call or connect with us online to schedule a consultation at our Manning office or at a location that is most convenient for you.
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