Where Should Probate be Opened?

Posted by the Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston, SC Probate Attorneys at Anderson & Schuster, Attorneys at Law, LLC.

The first step in opening probate for someone’s estate is to figure out just where to file. Each South Carolina County has a Probate Court, usually located at or near the county courthouse. For example, the Charleston County Probate Court is located in the historic Charleston County Courthouse in downtown Charleston.  The South Carolina County where the decedent was domiciled at death is the appropriate county in which to file.

While a person may have had multiple residences, each person only has one domicile. The Probate Court determines domicile of the decedent by looking at the address used on government documents and driver’s licenses, where mail was received, and where the decedent generally called “home.”

In most cases determining the South Carolina County where someone was domiciled is not difficult. However, issues sometimes arise, for example, when someone passes away after living in a nursing home that is in a different county than where they lived before. The Probate Court must look to the decedent’s intent when they moved.  Whether they had the mental capacity to choose to move to a different county is a factor for the probate court to consider.  Also, whether they planned to remain in the home or only be there temporarily.

These issues are important because it is a person’s domicile that gives the probate court jurisdiction over the probate estate.  A probate estate opened in the wrong county could cause problems with creditors and leave the door open for multiple estates being opened in different counties. This will, at minimum, delay Probate Court proceedings and could cause problems if assets are distributed before creditors are paid.

Charleston County Probate and Estate Attorneys

Our Probate and Estate Lawyers handle probate and estates in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties.  Our probate lawyers can help to ensure your loved one’s estate is handled properly and efficiently.  Please give our Charleston probate attorneys a call today to discuss any probate and estate issues you may have. Oftentimes any fee incurred by employing our probate attorneys can be paid from the assets of the estate.