Opening & Closing an Estate

Opening an Estate

  1. Filing Will and Probatings - The South Carolina (SC) Probate Code of Laws requires that the Last Will and Testament be delivered to the Probate Court within 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 30 days.
  2. Death Certificate - A copy of the death certificate must be filed with the court.
  3. Application/Petition (Form 300 (PDF)) - To begin administration of an estate, an application or petition must be filed 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) does not require a hearing.
    Formal proceedings (probate or appointment) are conducted before a judge with notice being given to all interested persons. If a formal proceeding is requested, generally, the services of an attorney are needed. In some instances due to the requirements in the SC Probate Code, your request for an informal appointment or informal probate of a Will cannot be granted. In such instances, 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 (PDF)).
  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 a formal appointment if you wish. With a formal appointment, a hearing will be scheduled, wherein testimony would be presented as to why the person requesting an 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 of your knowledge. Part I, Number 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). See the fee schedule:
    1. Property Valuation (Real and Personal)
    2. Property valuation less than $5,000: $25
    3. Property valuation of $5,000 but less than $20,000: $45
    4. Property valuation of $20,000 but less than $60,000: $67.50
    5. Property valuation of $60,000 but less than 100,000: $95
    6. Property valuation of $100,000 but less than $600,000: $95 
      Plus.15% of the property valuation between $100,000 and $599,999                                                                                     Plus .25% of the property valuation $600,000 and above                                                                             

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 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:
    1. "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.
    2. "Application for Settlement" asking for the 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 30 days from receipt of the closing documents to demand a hearing in writing concerning any closing documents. If a written demand for a hearing is received within this time period, a hearing will be scheduled. If a written demand for a 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.