At some point in your life you will likely be involved in the probate process in some capacity. You may be appointed as the executor in someone’s Last Will and Testament, named as a beneficiary by a decedent, or be a creditor of an estate. If you have never been through the probate process you will likely have a number of questions about the process, starting with “ How long does the probate process take in South Carolina? ” Because no two estates are the same there is no way to answer that question with any degree of certainty; however, a better understanding of factors that will determine how long the probate of an estate will take may be helpful. Don`t forget to look into this website to find additional info.
Probate is required after an individual dies for several reasons. First, probate ensures that all assets owned by the decedent are located and eventually transferred to the intended beneficiaries or legal heirs. Second, probate allows creditors of the estate to file a claim against the estate before estate assets are forever lost. Finally, probate guarantees that Uncle Sam will receive any taxes owed by the decedent or the decedent’s estate before assets are transferred to beneficiaries or heirs.
In South Carolina, it will take a minimum of eight months to probate even a modest estate because the law requires probate to remain open that long to allow creditors to file claims. Beyond the minimum eight months, several factors will determine how long probate takes to conclude, including, but not limited to:
- Testate vs. Intestate – typically, an intestate estate (one in which the decedent did not leave behind a valid Will) takes longer to probate for several reasons. First, someone must be appointed to act as the Personal Representative. Second, the PR likely is not as familiar with the decedent’s estate so it will take longer to locate assets. Finally, the legal heirs of the estate must be determined and then located, a problem that does not exists with a testate estate.
- Assets – as a general rule, the more numerous, complex, and valuable the estate assets are the longer it takes to probate an estate.
- Liquidity – if the estate lacks liquidity, assets may need to be sold to pay creditors or fulfill bequests. The sale of assets can cause extend the probate process by months, even years.
- Litigation – if a Will contest is filed it can cause probate to drag on for years. In addition, if creditor disputes turn in to litigation it can also prolong the probate process.
- Executor/Personal Representative – the Executor/PR is responsible for overseeing the entire probate process. The decedent’s choice of Executor, or the court’s choice of PR, therefore, will have a direct impact on how smoothly the probate process runs.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the probate process, contact the experienced South Carolina estate planning attorneys at Kuhn & Kuhn Law Firm by calling 843-577-3700 to schedule your appointment.