Probate Attorneys Mullins, South Carolina
It’s perfectly natural to grieve for a long time when a loved one dies. Unfortunately, you can’t just put everything on hold while you deal with your grief. It’s usually the responsibility of a surviving family member to manage a deceased loved one’s assets and estate. But handling and settling an estate is not merely a personal responsibility. It’s also your legal duty, which you must handle via probate.
Probate administration involves specific procedures for distributing and closing an estate with the court’s oversight. Successfully settling an estate via probate, however, will often require legal expertise. This is where the experience and skills of the Mullins, South Carolina probate attorneys of Whittington Tiller Law Firm LLC can be beneficial.
What Exactly is Probate?
Probate is a legal process used to distribute a deceased individual’s assets to their beneficiaries and heirs as well as settle any debts. It must carry out the specific instructions the decedent left in their will. The process would follow state law if the decedent died intestate or without leaving a will.
When a person passes away, all their possessions, property, and money will fall into two categories of assets for probate purposes. The first group will pass directly to the estate’s beneficiaries or co-owner when the owner dies. These assets usually do not need to go through probate and are known as non-probate assets:
Life insurance policy proceeds
Pension and retirement accounts with beneficiaries
Payable upon death accounts
Assets in trusts
Real estate with a co-owner tenant who has the right of survivorship
The second group, called probate assets, includes money, personal property, vehicles, and real estate. These will usually not transfer to the beneficiaries or co-owners, until the estate has finished the probate process. Any probate asset that is devised in a will must be transferred to the beneficiary through the probate process. If someone dies without a will, known as dying intestate, probate is required to legally transfer ownership of any non-probate assets owned by the decedent at their death.
What Happens During Probate?
An application or petition must be filed in probate court. A probate judge must appoint an individual to serve as administrator of the estate. This person is known as the executor in many states, but in South Carolina it is called the Personal Representative. The personal representative is usually named in the will, but if the decedent’s will did not name an one or they died without a valid will, the court will appoint one. A notice of the probate petition must then be sent to the beneficiaries and heirs and published in the local newspaper.
The creditors will also be notified so they can meet the deadline for submitting claims. Meanwhile, the administrator must identify and make an inventory of the decedent’s assets. If needed, certain assets must also be appraised. Any taxes or debts owed by the estate will be paid, and the remaining assets will be distributed according to the will.
The probate process will be officially closed after all the assets have been distributed. But the administrator may still be responsible if there are any newly discovered assets or complaints pertaining to the estate, even after the probate has been officially closed.
Reach Out to Our Experienced Mullins, South Carolina Probate Attorneys
If you have been appointed as the personal representative or executor of a loved one’s estate, please don’t hesitate to contact the Whittington Tiller Law Firm LLC to learn how we can help. Besides determining whether probate is needed, we will handle all the legal paperwork for you and be with you every step of the way. Schedule your case consultation with one of our Mullins, South Carolina probate attorneys today by calling 843-464-7821 or sending us an online message.