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What is Probate Litigation in South Carolina?

  • As a probate attorney in Summerville, South Carolina, I know that estate planning and probate matters can be complex and intimidating. Indeed, the probate process may be complicated based on the planning documents prepared, the size of the deceased person's estate, and the type of assets in question.

    Many probate matters are straightforward and can be resolved without litigation, especially if the decedent has been thorough and thoughtful in planning his or her estate. A recent, updated will typically simplifies the probate process, as do assets that are considered "non-probate." In South Carolina, these include property and accounts that are jointly owned; accounts and insurance policies that list specific surviving beneficiaries; and living trusts. Estates that total less than $10,000 are also exempt from probate in South Carolina and assuming there are no disputes, assets can be distributed to inheritors with the use of affidavits under the state's "small estate" law.

    Some matters, however, are more complicated. If a will is not up to date, treats the decedent's children unequally, or in cases where disputes or animosity exist among beneficiaries, probate court litigation can bring resolution.

    Litigation in probate court may include contests or challenges to the validity of a will; requests for the court to clarify the legal implications of certain components of a will or trust; lawsuits requesting to terminate or modify the terms of a trust; and suits brought by beneficiaries against an executor, administrator, trustee, or other fiduciary, claiming that he or she has breached the law and/or the document issuing his/her power, and has caused damage to the beneficiaries in so doing.

    There are many things to consider after the passing of a loved one, and probate litigation can take precious time, energy, and emotional stamina. Working with a skilled probate attorney can lead to swifter and smoother resolutions ― you don't have to face the probate process alone. If you need help navigating probate court litigation or would like to begin planning your estate, contact the Watts Law Firm today.