Monthly Archives: February 2016

In South Carolina, do I need to worry about the estate tax?

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As of this writing, if an estate is worth $5 million dollars or less, you probably do not need to worry about the Federal Estate Tax. Some states have a state estate tax, but South Carolina is not one of them.

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In South Carolina, how do I notify creditors that someone has passed away?

In South Carolina, personal representatives must run a notice of death in a local newspaper.  Most probate courts (including Lexington County and Richland County) arrange for the publication of the notice and roll the cost of the notice into the filing fee. The notice triggers the creditor claims period. If a creditor does not file a claim before the claim period expires, then its claim may be barred, depending on the type of claim. Claims will be discussed in a separate post.

Tips for Finding a Lost Will

Kyle E. Krull’s blog has a good article about lost wills. Click here to read the article. Here are some highlights:

  • Check to see if the will has already been admitted to “probate” with the probate court in the county where your loved one resided at death. If an attorney or other family member had the original (or knew where to find it), then he or she may have filed it already. Wills become public documents once filed.
  • Check to see if there is a safe deposit box owned by your loved one. Oftentimes wills and other important legal and financial documents are kept there.
  • Review the checkbook or bank statements of your loved one for any fees paid to an estate planning attorney. Striking gold here may mean finding the attorney who will either have the original will and/or trust or at least a signed copy.
  • Look for any business cards or correspondence with a financial advisor who may know the attorney if not the location of the legal documents.
  • Contact the accountant, too. Tax returns and account statements could have helpful information.
  • Perhaps your loved one hid the legal documents. This would not be the first time. For example, I have clients who keep their original documents in the freezer.
  • Reach out to relatives and close friends. Perhaps they know whether your loved one ever consulted an estate planning attorney or a financial advisor. They may have referred your loved one to their own attorney or financial advisor.

Stick tap to the Wills, Trusts, and Estates Prof Blog for pointing out the article.

 

In South Carolina can there be more than one personal representative for an estate?

Yes, in South Carolina the Probate Court may appoint Co-Personal Representatives. There are two disadvantages to having Co-Personal Representatives. First, it is difficult to get things done because both Personal Representatives have to sign all of the probate papers, contracts, and agreements. Second, if the Co-Personal Representatives disagree or dislike each other, the estate administration becomes complex, time consuming, and expensive.