In South Carolina, when a person passes away without a will, they die intestate—which means it’s up to the courts to choose an administrator who will distribute the decedent’s assets in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws, which are designed to align with the average person’s final wishes.
In short, if you die without a will, the state makes one for you. Passing away with no will creates unnecessary difficulties for surviving family members, and in many cases, it creates disputes and results in property and money going to those who would never have received it otherwise.
At The Estate Preservation Law Firm, we advise every adult to create a will that outlines the distribution of assets upon death. A last will ensures the fulfillment of your wishes and can help families avoid many of the hassles and expenses associated with probate court.
Do Spouses Automatically Get Everything in South Carolina?
When a person passes away in Rock Hill, South Carolina’s probate court decides who their heirs and creditors are and how much each entity will receive. While most assume that, if they die without a will, their spouse will get everything, it’s not true in every case.
If you pass away with living children, your spouse will get half of probate estate and your children will get the remaining half of the estate divided equally by the number of children that you have.
What Will Happen When You Die With No Will in South Carolina?
If there’s no will directing asset distribution, your estate will be divided according to state intestate succession law, with the probate process being administered in the county in which you lived. The court will choose an administrator to inventory everything, pay taxes and debts, handle final arrangements, and distribute remaining assets under the law.
Some assets are distributed according to contract terms instead of probate law. If you have any such assets, or if you have property held jointly with survivorship rights, probate will be less of a concern.
South Carolina’s Intestate Succession Law
If you pass away without a valid Will, any asset that’s subject to probate falls under South Carolina’s intestate succession law, but the following assets are not affected.
- Property held in a living trust
- Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
- Funds in retirement accounts with named beneficiaries
- Securities in TOD (transfer on death) accounts
- Vehiclesowned jointly using OR not AND
- POD or payable on death accounts
These assets will automatically go to the chosen beneficiary or surviving owner. However, if you die without a will and there’s no one alive to take ownership of the assets, they may be transferred in accordance with the state’s intestate succession law.
This law is quite complex, and it is made even more complicated by divorce, remarriage, and other realities of modern life. At The Estate Preservation Law Firm, we’ll guide you through the process of asset distribution.
Selling Off an Inheritance After a Person Dies Without a Will
While assets and real property are divided according to the state’s intestate succession law, things can sometimes get complicated. Often, estate administrators will sell estate property to pay taxes, take care of debts, and fulfill legal requirements—and they have the right to do so when necessary.
Protect Your Family: Make a Will
If you pass away with no will, all the property your family has—from vacation homes to family heirlooms—could be sold off to the highest bidder. Spouses and children may get the opportunity to object to such sales, or to buy properties they could have inherited, but in many cases, they aren’t even consulted. With a will, you can specify what’s to be kept and what should be sold in probate.
Another major problem is that some creditors will start the foreclosure process on land and homes if the decedent did not make mortgage payments for some time prior to their death. A last will outlines which assets can be sold to make up those missed payments. Lienholders and banks only care about their money, not your family—so they would rather foreclose and make up some of their losses than get nothing at all.
In such cases, families and estate administrators may petition South Carolina’s probate court for permission to sell the property on the open market, settle the debt, and gain the benefit of remaining equity.
Saving probated property from foreclosure requires the competent assistance of experienced estate planning lawyers, such as those at The Estate Preservation Law Firm. However, we would much rather help you create an estate plan and prevent these problems. Call now to schedule your consultation with an estate planning lawyer in Rock Hill.
What to Include in Your Last Will and Testament
A last will and testament must include beneficiaries’ names, including family members and charitable institutions. Wills should also name primary and backup executors who will ensure that the document’s terms are carried out. Finally, your will should outline who will care for minor children and other dependents after your death.
When creating a will, be sure to specify who gets what, whether items have real or sentimental value. Many people, when planning their estates, leave money and designate someone to take care of their pets after they’re gone.
These are all important considerations to make when planning your estate and creating a willl. The team at The Estate Preservation Law Firm will help you create a document that follows the law and reflects your wishes. Call today to request a no-obligation consultation.
How Our Estate Planning Team Can Help
The time after a member’s death is a tumultuous and confusing one for many families, even when a person dies with a will—and problems are magnified when people die intestate. Instead of allowing strangers and the legal system to decide how your assets are distributed once you are gone, let us help you put a plan in place.
At The Estate Preservation Law Firm, our experienced South Carolina inheritance attorneys know just how important a well-crafted will is to families dealing with the untimely death of a loved one. We will help you outline your wishes and ensure that those you care about are provided for well into the future.
Our law firm’s focus is on helping families and individuals develop logical, solid estate plans, no matter how big or how small those estates may be. Since we’ve been in the field, our firm’s attorneys have helped Rock Hill’s families plan for the fair, equitable, and orderly distribution of assets. Our team handles wills & trusts, elder law, and probate matters, and we would like to help you. Use our online form to get more information or call today to book an appointment with us.
With our assistance, it is possible to create a new will or revise an out-of-date document to reflect changes in your family and circumstances. Our estate planning calculator and other useful tools, along with our team, will help you find out which documents you’ll need. Contact our firm today online or call 803-973-6632 to learn how we help South Carolina’s families protect themselves and their legacies.