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Little River Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer

Little River Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer

Little River Probate and Estate Planning Attorney

Nothing can make an already difficult time harder than a battle over a deceased loved one’s assets. It’s the kind of situation where if the deceased’s loved ones were given the time to grieve, the process would be less volatile. Sadly, the law leaves very little time for this. That’s why one of the most useful things you can do for your family is to be aware of the inheritance process and prepare ahead of time for as smooth a process as possible. At Axelrod & Associates, P.A., we help our clients give their families more space to grieve by reducing the challenges and points of conflict in managing your assets after death.

Little River Probate and Estate Planning Lawyer

Probate Process

Unless you take pre-emptive action, most of your estate will have to go through probate in Little River, South Carolina. As long as you own real property and/or have an estate over $25,000, then your estate must go through probate. More specifically, there are three categories of assets that are subject to probate:

  • Property solely owned by the deceased
  • Real estate where the deceased is a tenant in common
  • The interest the deceased has in an LLC, partnership, or corporation

The probate process, particularly the more complex and valuable the estate, can sometimes be contentious. It’s comprised of several steps:

  • Delivery of the Will – Within thirty days of death, the deceased’s will must be delivered to the judge. It may also be delivered to the personal representative named in the will, who is then responsible for giving it to the judge.
  • A Personal Representative Is Appointed
  • Notice to Heirs – Heirs can contest the will if they desire.
  • Appraisal of the Estate – Within 90 days, the estate must be inventoried and appraised by professional appraisers where needed.
  • Final Accounting – This is when any outstanding debts, taxes, or ongoing fees are paid out.
  • Disbursements – Distributions of remaining assets are made to the heirs according to the will or the state.
  • Estate Closing – The personal representative submits documents to the court saying the steps have been completed, and the court issues a Certificate of Discharge.

Why Avoid Probate?

Many families that have gone through probate wish that the process could have been avoided. Some of the primary reasons are:

  • To avoid the cost of probate
  • To have more control over the distribution of assets
  • To maintain the privacy of the family regarding the estate
  • To accelerate the process of making disbursements

How to Avoid Probate

Avoiding, or at least minimizing, the probate process is something many people wish to do. To understand how to avoid probate, consider the kinds of assets that are not required to pass through probate:

  • Assets in a pension plan
  • Assets, retirement funds, and insurance policies that have named beneficiaries
  • Joint accounts deemed payable or transferable upon death
  • Real estate with joint tenancy with right of survivorship
  • Assets in a trust

It’s that final category, assets in a trust, that can be most beneficial for avoiding probate. If a living trust is set up, you can place assets in the ownership of the trust and still manage those assets as the trustee. In the event of your death, a trustee you name will be responsible for administering the trust according to your instructions. Setting up these kinds of trusts so that they are effective in minimizing a family’s involvement with probate can be somewhat complex. Estate planning lawyers, though, can help. At Axelrod & Associates, P.A., we can help ensure that your assets get managed according to your wishes.


Q: Do You Need a Lawyer for Probate in South Carolina?

A:  You could go through South Carolina probate without a lawyer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. The probate process can be complex and involves a lot of different forms. Any missteps along the way, and you can find yourself in a bind that may be difficult to correct if it even can be corrected. Hiring a lawyer can save a lot of hassle and stress in regard to the probate process because they understand it and have been through it before. The larger and more complex the estate, or the more contentious the fight over assets, the more valuable it can be to have a lawyer by your side.

Q: How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in South Carolina?

A: All estates in South Carolina have to go through some kind of probate process. However, if an estate has no real property involved and is less than $25,000, it is not subject to the full probate process but can proceed through an expedited small estate probate, also known as summary probate.

Q: What Assets Go Through Probate in South Carolina?

A: In South Carolina, there are three kinds of assets that must go through probate:

  • The deceased’s business interest in any Partnership, LLC, or Corporation
  • Property that is held solely in the deceased’s name
  • Real Estate that the deceased held as a tenant in common

Q: How Can I Avoid Going Through Probate in South Carolina?

A: The most effective means of avoiding probate court is a living trust. Any assets that are in the trust will be managed according to the terms that you set forth, and the trustee will see that they are managed according to your direction upon your death. This allows you to avoid the costs of probate, distribute inheritance to your heirs more quickly, and keep your estate out of the public record.

Spare Your Family the Hassle and Conflict With a Little River Estate Planning Lawyer

A loved one’s passing is a difficult time. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t allow for much time for grieving before the deceased’s assets must be dealt with. If there isn’t a clear plan for how the assets are to be handled, that already emotionally charged time can turn highly contentious. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. For many, one final gift they can bestow upon their family is thorough, clear arrangements for the assets — preferably one that avoids the difficulty of probate court. If you want to learn how to prepare your assets for a smooth transition in the event of your passing, contact us at Axelrod & Associates, P.A., today.


Need help? Contact Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

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