Probate Law

The attorneys at Johnson, Toal & Battiste, P.A. understand that it is often not a pleasant task to talk about sickness and/or death, whether it is in planning for it ahead of time or dealing with the legal issues that arise after someone dies.  We will work with you to assist you during both of these times.  Under our probate practice area we can assist you with all of the following:

  • Making a Last Will and Testament
  • Designating your Power of Attorney
  • Preparing a Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Probating an Estate
    • Opening an Estate
    • Applying to be appointed as Personal Representative of an Estate
    • Inventory and Appraisal
    • Handling Claims
    • Disbursement of Assets
    • Closing the Estate

Important facts that you need to know:

In order to make a Will or execute a Power of Attorney, you must be “legally competent” to do so.  A person wishing to have these documents prepared for them must be able to demonstrate that they understand what they are doing and that the document(s) prepared reflect what they want to be done.

Estates must be probated within ten (10) years of the date of death in South Carolina.

The general Power of Attorney document(s) must be filed at the Register of Deeds for the county in which the person who is giving someone their power of attorney.

Call 803-252-9700 or 1-866-216-9700 for an appointment with a knowledgeable and caring lawyer to help you attain the benefits you deserve.

Why should I have a Will?

You should have a Will in order to ensure that your belongings are given to the people that you want them to be given to upon your death.  If you do not have a Will, there is a law in South Carolina that dictates which of your blood relatives get your belongings, and it may or may not be who you want to have them.

Why should I have a POA?

A Power of Attorney is an important document that everyone should have executed just in case there is an unforeseen accident or medical condition that renders you legally incompetent – even if it is just while you are under anesthesia.  In this document, you are giving the person of your choosing the ability to handle your affairs if/when you are unable to do so.

Why should I have a Health Care POA?

The purpose of this document is for you to express in writing the decisions that you want to be made about your health care at the end of your life when you are not able to make them.  Having this document makes it easier for your loved ones to make very difficult decisions by helping them to know that they are honoring your choices, choices that you have documented for them in your Health Care Power of Attorney.

Why is it necessary to probate an estate?

Estates must be probated whether or not there is a Will.  It is necessary to probate an estate in order to legally transfer ownership of property, especially real estate, so that the deed for it is in the name of someone who is living and the property can be sold.

What documents do I need to bring when making an appointment to initiate the probate of an estate?

A certified copy of the death certificate (with raised seal), a copy of the funeral program, a list of the names and addresses of all living blood relatives.

How long does it take for an estate to go through the probate process?

It takes approximately one (1) year for an estate to go through the probate process.  When an estate is opened, there is a notice to creditors published in a local newspaper.  Potential creditors have an eight (8) month time period in which they can make a claim against an estate.  If they make a claim that is valid, the personal representative of the estate can pay the claim; if the personal representative does not believe that the claim is valid, then they can deny the claim.  A probate judge will decide based on evidence presented by both parties whether or not the claim is valid.