Probate Law

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Probate Law

When a loved one passes from this earth, they usually leave behind property that they owned. The loved one who passed is called a “decedent.” That loved one may or may not have left a will with instructions regarding to whom they want that property to pass and in what manner. This involves the “probate process.:” The probate process is handled in the probate court. South Carolina has a set of laws that involves the probate process, and instructs the probate court.

If a person passes without a will, the state of South Carolina’s probate laws direct to whom the person’s property will pass, and which portion of that property will pass to each individual if there are more than one. This usually involves the immediate family, but could involve additional relatives depending on the circumstances of each individual case. Note that each individual should have a will prepared, during that person’s lifetime, because once that person is gone, he or she may never have their wishes fulfilled regarding to whom they would have wanted their property to pass. We at The Cooper Law Firm can help you and your family prepare a will so that you can ensure that the property you leave on this earth after you are gone, will be passed to the persons, and in the manner you directed during your life. The probate process for an individual who has passed without a will is called “intestate.” If for some reason, your loved one passes without having left a will, a family member will need to be appointed as “personal representative” in the probate court to work with his or her lawyer in making sure the decedent’s property is distributed under the laws of intestacy in South Carolina. We can help you with this process.

If a loved one has passed and did leave a will, the probate court’s job is to ensure that the will is in fact that which was prepared by the decedent, and that the will was prepared according to the probate laws of the state of South Carolina. This is why it is so important to have a lawyer help with the preparation of a will. Otherwise, it could be rejected by the Court after the decedent has passed. The probate process for one who has left a valid will is called a “testate” process. Ordinarily, an individual who has prepared a will has designated in the will a person, who they would like to be appointed as “personal representative.” That personal representative ensures that the following responsibilities are handled after the death of the loved one: (1) collecting and inventorying the decedent’s property; (2) selling that property if necessary, unless it has been designated as being passed to another relative. Those relatives to whom property is passed in a probate action are called “heirs.”; (3) paying debts of the decedent, including taxes. Those are the basic duties of a “personal representative” in the probate process. However, there may be others.

For example, if your relative has been killed by the negligence of another, someone would need to apply to be appointed personal representative in the probate court in order to sue the individual, whose negligence caused the death of your relative. Ordinarily, if the person, who was killed is a spouse, the surviving spouse would naturally want to be appointed as personal representative. However, if there is a reason the spouse cannot or will not do so, another person, who may or may not be a relative may be appointed as personal representative. The probate laws in the state of South Carolina direct in what priority relatives are to be appointed in such matters. We at The Cooper Law Firm have helped others with being appointed personal representative in such situations, and we have filed suit for such individuals on behalf of their loved one, who was killed. These are wrongful death cases, and include anything from medical malpractice to auto accidents to drowning or electrocution by negligence.

We at The Cooper Law Firm understand the value of Family, and we understand that you need a skilled representative to assist you with probate and other such matters. Please feel free to contact us for a free initial interview should the need arise.

- Bob Cooper