Probate is the process of working with the Probate Court to transfer assets from a decedent to his/her designated beneficiaries or legal heirs. The entire probate process usually requires between 9-12 months to be completed. The key steps in the administration of an estate include:
- Probate of the Will. In this initial phase, the Probate Court ascertains if the Will is valid, and if so, appoints a Personal Representative to administer the estate.
- Asset Inventory. The Personal Representative is charged with the responsibility of filing an Inventory and Appraisement listing and describing the assets and the approximate value of the assets of the estate listed in the will.
- Public Advertisement to Creditors. An advertisement must be run in a local newspaper giving notice to creditors of their right to file a claim against the state. Creditors must file any such claim within 8 months of the publication of the notice.
- Distribution and Accounting. Once the creditors claim period has lapsed, the Personal Representative is required to distributed the assets to those individuals entitled to receive them and must file an accounting with the probate court showing the amounts of cash or the value of other assets distributed to the distributees.
- Discharge of Personal Representative. Once the Probate Court determines that the Personal Representive has satisfactorily completed his/her obligations under the will, including distributing the net assets to the appropriate parties, the Personal Representative will be discharged and released by Probate Court.
While the responsibilities of a Personal Representative are described by the South Carolina Probate Code, and the Probate Court staff are helpful to the Personal Representative in fulfilling his/her duties with regard to the will, there are several tasks to be performed by the Personal Representative, such as the allocation and distribution of personal property, indentifying and appraising assets, filing life insurance claims, transferring bank accounts and investment accounts, and many other matters that must be attended to. Accordingly, many people find that the role of a Personal Representative is more demanding than they believe it would be.
Doug Brown is prepared to assist in the process of probating wills and guiding the Personal Representative though the administration of the estate, from the submission of the will and Application for Probate to the closing of the estate.
Wills, Probate & Elder Law
Doug Brown is experienced in the preparation of Wills, Durable Powers of Attorney, Limited Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives, including Health Care Powers of Attorneys, and Declarations of Desire for a Natural Death, known generally as a "Living Will".
Health Care Powers of Attorney and Living Wills should contain the appropriate language required by South Carolina and federal law. He stands ready to explain these documents to you, as well as to your famiy members and advisors to make sure that the documents he prepares for you clearly and accurately express your intentions.
Further, as today's society ages, he stands to advise you and to prepare appropriate documents as to matters relating to wills and Elder Law issues and to help ensure that your final desires are appropriately planned for. Among the issues facing the elderly population are meeting the requirements for eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.