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Probate & Trust Administration

When a person dies, it is time for the estate plan to be executed. If the decedent had a will, the person who has the duty of administering the estate is called the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is charged with gathering the assets, ascertaining and paying debts, administration expenses and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to those persons entitled to receive them.

If the decedent had a Revocable Trust, then the Trust Estate can be administered without the involvement of the Probate Court, and the person who had the duty of administering the Trust and distributing the assets of the Trust Estate is called the successor Trustee.

Probate Administration.

The first thing that must be done is to find the original Will; a copy is not sufficient. The original Will must be filed with the Probate Court along with an Application for Probate, which contains information regarding the decedent's heirs (persons eligible to receive his assets by statute) and his devisees (persons named in his will) and an estimate of his estate. The Application also requests the Probate Court to appoint the Personal Representative. After appointment, the Personal Representative will receive a Certificate of Appointment, which allows the Personal Representative to act with regard to the probate estate.

The Personal Representative is charged with submitting several documents, including an Information to the Heirs announcing his appointment, and an Accounting of the estate to the Probate Court. He is also charged with dealing with the creditors of the estate and approving or denying any submitted creditor's claims. Probate Administration is generally complete within a year of the decedent's death.

Summary Probate Administration.

In South Carolina, a summary probate administration is available if the same person is named as the Personal Representative and the sole beneficiary or if the estate assets are valued at $25,000 or less. This allows the Personal Representative to avoid the creditor claims period of eight months, and to immediately distribute the property and close the estate.

Trust Administration

Administering a trust is much like administering a will in probate, with many of the same notification requirements. Trustees have the same duties as the Personal Representative, and must keep the beneficiaries of the trust informed. Suffice it to say that this area is just as complex as probate administration. Please contact us and let us guide you through this process.