When someone dies without a will, their estate is called “intestate
.” This means that their property will pass to the decedent’s heirs
, in a manner according to state law. A personal representative (PR) is the individual with the responsibility of administering an estate. A PR is often nominated in the will of the decedent. If the decedent did not have a will, S.C. law sets forth a priority list for determining who should be the PR (typically the next of kin ie spouse). The PR is responsible for collecting, protecting, and administering the estate. This includes giving notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory and Appraisement of the estate assets, making sure assets are secure during probate
, paying required claims and costs, filing all appropriate tax returns, and making sure that the proper people receive the assets to which they are entitled. Here is the tax guide for assisting PRs. All relevant statutes and codes are here Typically the PR will hire an attorney at the expense of the estate to assist in the probate of the estate. A regular estate will take at least eight months because that is the time period that an estate must stay open for creditor's claims, by state law. You should probably allow at least a year for an untaxable and uncontested estate to close. A small estate will be administered within 1 week to 10 days but cannot be filed until thirty days after the date of death. Since there is no will, there is no will to be filed, but the PR will still petition the court for Letters Testamentary so that the PR can act on behalf of the estate. There is certain property that will not go through probate but will pass by operation of law; examples include:life insurance policies or IRAs/401ks that name a beneficiarybank accounts or brokerage accounts naming a Pay on Death beneficiaryAny accounts or real property held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship
. These will be transferred to the named beneficiary/surviving joint tenant by providing a copy of the death certificate. In either situation most people will hire an attorney so they don't need to deal with all of the paperwork while dealing with the emotional issues involved. An estate law or probate attorney typically handles this. Further questions? Please post here to continue the chat. Satisfied? Kindly rate positively so I receive credit for assisting you.(no additional charges are incurred). Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.