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Estate Administration

If there is a Will, it must be filed with the Court within thirty (30) days of the date of death. The majority of estates will come under the informal procedures. There are no Notices required or Hearings unless demanded by an interested party pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws, § 62-3-204 (1976, as amended).

Formal proceedings are contested matters such as objections to appointments of personal representatives, will contests, lost or destroyed will and declaratory judgments on intestacy. Formal proceedings require Notices to all interested parties and a Hearing. Formal proceedings must be commenced within the later of eight months from informal probate or one year from the decedent's death. A Part 5 Administration happens only under rare circumstances where close supervision and continuing authority by the Court is necessary for the protection of interested parties. A Small Estate Administration occurs when the decedent's estate less liens and encumbrances does not exceed ten thousand dollars. This cannot take place until thirty (30) days after death. The death certificate and a copy of the funeral bill must be furnished to the Court.

Under a Small Summary Administration the appointment of a Personal Representative is made. An Inventory and Appraisement must be filed with the Court. If the total assets that pass through the estate wherever located, and liens and encumbrances are less than ten thousand dollars, the Personal Representative, after giving notice to creditors, may immediately disburse and distribute the estate to the entitled persons. A verified statement to close and a full account in writing must be filed with the Court and copied served on all distributes and creditors whose claims are neither paid nor barred.

If you would like to search the Probate Court Public Records, you can via the link below

Opening an Estate:

  1. Filing Will and Probatings - The SC Probate Code of Laws requires that the Last Will and Testament be delivered to the Probate Court within thirty (30) days of the decedent’s death. After filing the Will, the proposed personal representative must complete and return Form 300 to the court to begin probate proceedings within thirty (30) days.
  2. Death Certificate - A copy of the death certificate must be filed with the court.
  3. Application/Petition (Form 300) - To begin administration of an estate, an application or petition must be file with the Probate Court in the county where the decedent was a permanent resident or where real property is located. Both the application (informal proceeding) and the petition (formal proceeding) are on this same form. Informal proceeding (probate or appointment) do not require a hearing. Formal proceedings (probate or appointment) are conducted before a judge with notice being given to all interested persons If formal proceeding are requested, generally, the services of an attorney are needed. In some instances due to the requirements in the SC Probate Code, your request for informal appointment or informal probate of a Will cannot be granted. In such instance, you will be so informed to allow you to request formal proceedings.
    *** If you have not been contacted in 5 day’s time of submitting your blue application, call your Estate Clerk to arrange an appointment ***
  4. Probate - If the decedent left a Last Will and Testament, the applicant/petitioner needs to request probate of that Will. Probate means that the Will is a valid Will under the SC Probate Code of Laws. If you request informal probate, generally, the Will only needs to be valid on its face; that is, no proof of validity is required. If you request formal probate, a hearing will be scheduled to hear testimony and evidence regarding the validity of the Will. If one Will has been admitted informally, formal proceedings to contest that Will or introduce a new Will must be filed (Form 300).
  5. Appointments - Whether or not the decedent left a Last Will and Testament, someone must request to be appointed to administer the estate. Appointment can be granted informally to a person who has priority under the Probate Code. A person without priority can only be appointed in formal proceedings. You may request formal appointment, if you wish. With formal appointment, a hearing will be scheduled, wherein testimony would be presented as to why the person requesting appointment is the proper person to be appointed by the court is called the Personal Representative, even if the Will calls him/her the executor/executrix. Fully and fill in completely to the best your knowledge. Part I, No. 6 in reference to “public institution” means a facility of the SC Department of Mental Health. Also “unknown” is not a satisfactory answer to any of the questions. Once the form has been completed, it should be returned to the Probate Court. If the applicant/petitioner cannot have his/her signature notarized prior to returning the form and if the applicant/petitioner returns and signs the form in person, a member of the staff will be available to notarize the signature.
  6. Bond - A bond will be required if the decedent left no Will and owns personal property. If may also be required if the decedent left a Will (Under certain conditions, the court must require a bond).
  7. Qualifications - Once all requirements have been met: Form 300 completed, signed and filed, filing fee paid, hearing held bond obtained, any required notification made, if applicable, then the Order appointing the Personal Representative will be issued. Fiduciary Letters and Certificates of Appointment (if applicable) are then issued.
  8. Notice to Creditors - The court publishes this notice in the Times and Democrat for the Personal Representative. The cost of publication is $56.34 and is not included in the filing fee listed below.
  9. Filing Fee - A filing fee is required, based upon the value of the assets owned by the decedent (real and personal property). Below is the fee schedule:
    • Property Valuation (Real and Personal)
      • Property valuation less than $5,000.00 ----------------------------------------------------------$25.00
      • Property valuation of $5,000.00 but less than $20,000.00----------------------------------$45.00
      • Property valuation of $20,000.00 but less than $60,000.00---------------------------------$67.50
      • Property valuation of $60,000.00 but less than 100,000.00---------------------------------$95.00
      • Property valuation of $100,000.00 but less than $600,000.00------------------------------$95.00
      • Plus .15 percent of the property valuation between $100,000.00 and $600,000.00

Closing an Estate:

  1. Closing Procedure - Within one year after the date of the first publication of Notice to Creditors (or if a state or federal estate tax return was filed, within thirty (30) days after the receipt of the state or federal estate tax closing letter, whichever is later), a personal representative must file with the Court:
    • “Complete Accounting” of the entire administration listing the beginning balance as shown on the Schedule B, C, D-1, and F, on the Inventory and Appraisement, plus assets received during the course of the administration and how all assets were distributed.
    • “Petition for Settlement” asking for closure of the estate file.
    A “Notice of Right to Demand Hearing”, “Waiver of Notice”, and “Receipt and Release” must be sent to each heir. The heir must sign the “Waiver of Notice” and “Receipt and Release” forms releasing the Personal Representative of his/her duties. “Affidavit of Tax Liability” and “Proof of Delivery" must also be filed with the Court. The “Notice of Right to Demand a Hearing” instructs each recipient that he/she has thirty (30) days from receipt of the closing documents to demand a hearing in writing concerning any closing documents. If a written demand for hearing is received within this time period, a hearing will be scheduled. If a written demand for hearing is not received within this time period, the Court may issue certificates of Discharge and an Order closing one estate.
  2. Deed of Distribution - This form is a very important document and must be completed according to the law. We highly recommend that you consult with an attorney. When this document is completed, it must be recorded in the Register of Deed's Office in the Courthouse in the county where the property is located. A certified copy should be filed in the probate court. After all closing documents are received, the file is reviewed for closure, and provided everything is in order, the Certificate of Discharge will be issued and a true copy mailed to you.

FAQ About Estates

Got a question about Probate Court? Here is a list of frequently asked questions that might give you the answer. If you have a question that is not on our list, please contact the Probate Court's office via the Contact Form on the bottom of the page.

A. Probate means the Will is admitted as valid under South Carolina law. Informal probate admits the will as valid. Formal probate requires a hearing to confirm the validity of the will. If the will has erasures, white-out, or other markings, the Court may require a formal probate proceeding.
A. If the deceased was a permanent resident of Orangeburg County, was a non-resident holding property in Orangeburg County or has a right to take legal action in this county the estate must be processed through the Orangeburg County Probate Court.
A. When someone dies without a will, their estate is called "interstate". In this case, the State delegates who inherits and in what amount.
A. For formal probate or appointment, an attorney is recommended. This requires the filing of a Summons/Petition/filing fee and then service of the pleadings on the interested parties. A hearing will then be set for presentation of testimony. Since a hearing is not required for informal probate and/or informal appointment, an attorney is not necessary in this case.
A. Before the law changed in 1987, a person appointed to handle an estate could have been called an Executor/Executrix or Administrator/Administratrix. Today the person appointed to handle an estate is called the Personal Representative or PR.
A. Appointment of a Personal Representative is granted informally to a person who has priority under South Carolina law. Usually, the Personal Representative is named in the will by the deceased. However, priority can result through the will, by law, by renunciation, or by termination. Any person with priority may nominate another. A person without priority may only be appointed through formal proceedings. Following service of the formal Summons/Petition, a hearing will be scheduled to determine who is the appropriate person to administer the estate.
A. The Personal Representative is responsible for collecting, protecting and administering the estate. This includes giving Notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory of the estate, making sure assets are secure during probate time, paying required claims and costs, and making sure the heirs/devisees receive their final distributions.
A. If the decedent had a will (testate), within 30 days from date of death, submit the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate to the Orangeburg County Probate Court. Obtain initial paperwork from the Probate Court to begin the probate procedure. If the decedent did not have a will (intestate), obtain initial paperwork to be completed from the Orangeburg County Probate Court.

Estate Forms: