Probate and Trust Adminstration
Upon death, an individual’s Last Will and Testament is filed for probate in the county and state where he or she resides at death. The “probate process” is governed by state law, and these laws are designed to provide for the orderly administration and distribution of the decedent’s probate estate. In South Carolina, the probate court will appoint a Personal Representative (formerly known as “executor” or “executrix”) to manage the probate assets during the probate process. The personal representative is charged with the responsibility of gathering the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the decedent’s Will.
A person who dies without a Last Will and Testament is “intestate.” When a person dies intestate, the decedent’s assets are distributed in accordance with the laws of the state where he or she resides at the time of death.
If a person owns real property in multiple states, it is common for probate proceedings to be conducted in all jurisdictions where the person’s real property is located.
The trustee of a trust is charged with the responsibility of managing and distributing the trust assets in accordance with the terms of the trust.
Individuals, estates and trusts are subject to state and federal tax laws. “Gift taxes” are taxes that apply to gifts made during lifetime. “Estate taxes” apply to a decedent’s estate if it meets certain requirements under state or federal laws. Like individuals, estates and trust are also subject to income taxes pursuant to state and federal tax laws.