Frequently Asked Questions
What estate planning documents should I have?
Everyone should consider a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death (or Living Will).
In South Carolina, how is the property of a deceased citizen distributed if there is no will?
If one dies without a will, the laws of intestate succession control probate property. Generally, the property passes in accordance with the deceased's family tree (unless there are non-probate transfers).
What is required for one to apply for a marriage license in this state?
A person must be at least 18 years of age or have parental consent. The license is normally issued following the mandatory 24-hour waiting period once the application is filed and after the $50.00 cash fee for S.C. residents or $75.00 for non-residents is paid.
What are the requirements for having a legal will?
The document must be in writing, signed by the testator, who is at least 18 years old. You must also have two witnesses, who are not beneficiaries of the will. You should consult a Probate Attorney.
Where are you located?
We are located at 104 North Main Street, Lancaster, S.C. We are in the Lancaster County Courthouse.
Is there an open estate?
You can call or come in at any time to find out if we have an open estate.
What is your mailing address?
P. O. Box 1809, Lancaster, S.C. 29721
What is your direct phone number?
Our phone number is (803) 283-3379
Our fax number is (803) 283-3370
What is the difference in a regular estate and a small estate?
A regular estate is when the decedent owned real estate or had assets valued at twenty-five thousand dollars or more. A small estate is when the decedent owned no real estate and the total assets are valued at less than twenty-five thousand dollars.
How can I be appointed as the power of attorney for someone?
You will need to contact an attorney for the proper documents to be drafted.
Do I need an appointment to open an estate?
Yes. This prevents you waiting for a long period of time to see someone.
Are Probate records available for the public to review?
Yes, in the Probate Court office.
Does it cost to file a claim?
No, there is no fee to file a claim, although you will need to make sure that the estate has been opened in our office in order to file your claim.
What is probate for?
Probate is to transfer assets out of the decedent's name to the proper heirs.
What is the process?
This process varies according to the decedent's date of death, what the value of the estate is and whether or not the matter is contested. Each situation is unique. Your individual situation is best discussed with your attorney.
What are the fees to Probate an estate?
Probate fees vary according to the value of the estate. Please refer to the Fee Schedule for assistance in calculating the fees.
What are the fees for?
The fees are required by state law and payable to the county to assist in administration costs.
How long does it usually take to get an appointment?
We try to give you an appointment within one to two weeks.
How long does it take to probate the estate?
A regular estate will take at least eight months because that is the time period that an estate must stay open for creditor's claims, by state law. You should probably allow at least a year for an untaxable and uncontested estate to close. A small estate will be administered within 1 week to 10 days but cannot be filed until thirty days after the date of death.
I just had a will drawn up; can I file it in your office?
A will is not filed in our office until the person is deceased.
Do I have to obtain an attorney in order to probate an estate?
We do not require you to obtain an attorney, but we do advise that an attorney is always helpful because probate can be a very confusing and complicated process.
Is there very much paper work involved?
There are several forms that are required. Your estate clerk can explain the process to you.
Do life insurance policies that are payable to beneficiary have to go through Probate?
Life insurance policies payable to a beneficiary must be reported on your Inventory and Appraisement but are not calculated in when calculating court cost fees. The transfer of that asset should be dealt with by the beneficiary of the policy and the company or agency providing the benefit.
Do I have to type the information on the forms?
It is always helpful to have the form typed or printed on the computer but it is not required. It needs to be printed neatly in black ink.
Can you fax me the forms?
Do I have to publish the decedent's death in the paper?
No, we provide that service. The fee is $50.00 payable to The Lancaster News.
How long do creditors have to file a claim?
Eight months from the first date of publication or one year from the date of death.
Where can I get a copy of a deed?
The Register of Deeds Office for the county in which the property is located maintains recorded deeds. There will be a cost involved to obtain a copy.
I need a certificate from probate; what is that and how can I get that?
A certificate is a Certificate of Appointment. This certifies whom the Probate Court has appointed as Personal Representative of the estate. Certificates are issued when the estate is opened. Additional copies can be made available. These cannot be issued if the Estate has been closed.
Do I have to open an estate account?
You may need to open an estate account for assets of the estate. These funds should not be comingled into any other account until a distribution of the assets occurs. We suggest you consult and Estate attorney or a CPA for advice.
Can I pay the decedent's bills now or do I need to wait until I am appointed as personal representative?
It is best to wait until you meet with the estate clerk for advice on how to go about paying bills.