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How long does probate take?

On Behalf of | Jun 3, 2024 | Probate

Movies and television would have you believe that when someone dies, their will is read, and everyone immediately receives their inheritance. That typically doesn’t happen in real life.

Many factors determine how long the probate process will take, starting with the amount of time that a will can be filed with Horry County’s Probate Court.

What is probate?

Probate is the legal process that occurs after someone dies. Their will is proved valid or invalidated, the deceased’s debts are paid and their remaining assets are distributed according to their will, or if there is no will, according to South Carolina’s intestacy laws. The duration of probate typically takes between 1 and 1 ½ years, depending on an estate’s size and complexity.

The first step is to file a petition with the Horry County Probate Court to open probate and appoint an executor, usually named in a will, to manage the estate. The estate has up to 30 days to file the will.

The estate’s representative must notify the heirs and beneficiaries named in the will or identified by law if there is no will to inform them of the probate proceedings. The representative must also file a notice in the local newspapers to alert potential creditors of the estate. From the time the notification is filed in the paper, creditors have eight months to file a claim against the state.

Within 90 days of their appointment, the representative must inventory and value the deceased’s assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments and personal property.

Outstanding taxes, including final state and federal income taxes, must also be paid as part of the estate settlement.

The total time it takes to review and pay claims and settle taxes can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. After debts and taxes have been paid, any remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Anyone involved in administering an estate or planning their own should discuss their situation with someone who can help ensure compliance with South Carolina’s law and potentially help expedite the probate process, given that delays can be costly and inconvenient all around.