Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to "probate" a will?

Probate means the Will is admitted as valid under South Carolina law. 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.

How do I know if I need to go through the Probate Court?

If the deceased was a permanent resident of Union County, was a non-resident holding property in Union County or has a right to take legal action in this county the estate must be processed through the Union County Probate Court.

What if the deceased did not have a will?

When someone dies without a will, their estate is called "Intestate". In this case, the State delegates who inherits and in what amount. The State does not, however, take a part of the assets.

Do I need an attorney to probate a will?

For formal probate or appointment, the services of an attorney are recommended. This requires the filing of a Summons/Petition/filing fee and then service of the pleadings on the interested parties. A hearing will then be set for presentation of testimony. Since a hearing is not required for informal probate and/or informal appointment, an attorney is not necessary in this case.

What is an Executor?

Before the law changed in 1987, a person appointed to handle an estate could have been called an Executor/Executrix or Administrator/Administratrix. Today the person appointed to handle an estate is called the Personal Representative or PR.

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 deceased. However, priority can result through the will, by law, by renunciation, or by termination. Any person with priority may nominate another. 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.

Where do I start and how much does all of this cost?

If the decedent had a will (testate), within 30 days from date of death, submit the original will, certified copy of death certificate, and a filing fee to the Union County Probate Court. Obtain initial paperwork from the Probate Court to begin the probate procedure. A clerk will be assigned to your case, and you will work with her thereafter by appointment only.

If the decedent did not have a will (Intestate), obtain initial paperwork to be completed from the Union County Probate Court. A clerk will be assigned to your case, and you will work with her thereafter by appointment only. Filing fees and costs which are paid to the Probate Court are set by law for all estates.

When is Bond required?

Bond is required in the following circumstances:

  • Appointment of a Special Administrator
  • Appointment of a Personal Representative not named in the will (unless they are the sole devisee)
  • Appointment of a Personal Representative of an Intestate estate (unless they are the sole heir)
  • Appointment of a Personal Representative expressly required by the will
  • If demanded by an interested person

Bond may be waived if all heirs and devisees sign an agreement to that effect.