What Does a South Carolina Probate Lawyer Do?
A South Carolina probate lawyer is an attorney who focuses on probate law in the state of South Carolina. Probate is the legal procedure by which the estate of a deceased person is administered and dispersed to beneficiaries or heirs. If you need help with this, you can contact our Wills and Probate lawyers today. Here are some of the key tasks and responsibilities of a South Carolina probate lawyer.
Estate planning is the act of structuring and arranging one's assets and affairs to guarantee they are handled and dispersed in accordance with the individual's desires after death or incapacity. Estate planning entails developing legal documents and methods to manage a person's financial, medical, and personal affairs, allowing them to plan for the future and potentially reduce tax payments. It is a critical step in ensuring that one's legacy is maintained and that their loved ones are taken care of once they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
Probate attorneys can help clients create comprehensive estate plans, including wills, trusts, and other legal documents. They assist clients in ensuring that their assets are dispersed in accordance with their preferences following their death.
Probate administration is the legal process of managing, settling, and distributing a deceased person's estate among beneficiaries or heirs in accordance with their will (if they have one) or the state's intestacy rules (if they do not have a will). The probate court oversees the probate procedure, which guarantees that the deceased's assets are dispersed properly and that any outstanding bills or taxes are paid.
When a person dies with a valid will, the executor (designated in the will) or personal representative (if no will exists) is guided through the probate procedure by the probate lawyer. This includes submitting the relevant documentation to the probate court, inventorying the deceased's assets, dealing with creditors' claims, and distributing the estate to recipients.
When a person dies without a valid will or estate plan, the legal process of transferring their assets is known as intestate succession. Therefore, when a person dies without leaving a will, they are considered to have died "intestate." In such circumstances, the state's intestacy rules control how the deceased person's inheritance is distributed among their heirs.
If a person dies without a legal will, their estate is dispersed in accordance with South Carolina's intestate succession laws. The probate lawyer assists in identifying the rightful heirs and ensuring that the estate is handled properly.
Contesting a Will
Contesting a will in South Carolina entails questioning the legitimacy of a deceased person's will or specific clauses within it. Will challenges can occur when interested parties, such as beneficiaries, future heirs, or creditors, consider that the will is not legally valid or correctly reflects the deceased person's genuine wishes. In will contests and related disputes, a probate lawyer might represent beneficiaries or potential heirs.
Probate lawyers may also administer trusts established as part of an individual's estate plan. They assist trustees in carrying out their fiduciary duties and ensuring that assets are properly handled and distributed.
Guardianship and Conservatorship
Guardianship and conservatorship are legal arrangements that address a person's and their asset's care and management when they cannot make decisions on their own due to incapacity or disability. These arrangements are usually made through separate legal processes and are not usually included in wills. Probate lawyers can assist individuals who are unable to manage their own affairs owing to age, disability, or incapacity in establishing guardianships or conservatorship.
Estate Tax Planning
Estate tax planning is a set of strategies and techniques designed to reduce prospective estate tax penalties imposed on an individual's possessions upon death. Estate taxes, often known as inheritance taxes or death taxes, are charged on the distribution of a deceased person's estate to heirs. Some governments apply these taxes at the state or federal level, and they are determined based on the entire worth of the dead person's assets. Probate lawyers can advise clients on tax planning methods to avoid tax liability in cases where the estate may be subject to federal or state estate taxes.
A probate lawyer can represent clients in probate litigation if disagreements develop throughout the probate process, such as challenges to the validity of a will or charges of mismanagement by a personal representative.
Probate lawyers may also advise clients on how to protect assets throughout their lifetime so that they pass smoothly to beneficiaries and prevent probate difficulties.
Call Surasky Today
In general, a South Carolina probate lawyer assists clients in navigating the complexity of the probate process, ensuring the deceased's wishes are carried out, and providing legal counsel to beneficiaries, executors, and other parties involved in estate administration. If you feel you may need assistance with a will you can contact our law firm today.