In each and every South Carolina county, there is a specific probate court. Probate court is simply a different type of system/courthouse, in which a decedent’s estate will enter to distribute the deceased member’s devise’s, residuals, and pay off debts.
The probate courts of South Carolina will have exclusive original jurisdiction over all South Carolina matters involving or related to someone who has passed away estate and all their belongings, including both personal and actual land property. The SC Probate courts moreover are entitled to hear any will contests, the determination of who is considered to be an “heir” entitled to take from the estate, and also any issues with the construction of the will.
Additionally, probate courts are permitted and mandatorily must hear any cases covering the protection of minors, trusts, marriage licenses and any ” involuntary commitments.” S.C. Code 62-1-302(2012.) However, Family Court handles matters of divorce, child custody, and alimony.
So the next obvious question is, what actually happens in this so-called probate court? Accordingly, the parties enter into the court, and after the close of the pleadings, the parties are allowed to remove matters from the probate court to the circuit court( which is the typical courthouse you would be thinking of in your head right now), for all matters involving the “formal” probate of the wills, any actions to try title, trusts with discrepancies, appointments of personal representatives for the estate, and most importantly, any action for more then $5,000 that carry with it the Constitutional protection of a right to trial by jury. S.C. Code 62-1-302(2012.)
What is important to note is that these probate courts do not handle any civil liability claims for fatal perishes, such as wrongful death suits. Wrongful death suits are taken care of in circuit court first, and then appealed up if need be. These claims are different then probate because they concern the matters that caused the death to the decedent. Probate would occur later, after the wrongful action was taken care of, and the estate was ready to be distributed by the probate judge in the county in which the decedent died, had property, or left property.
If you have any sort of familial issues, such as the one listed above, and a wrongful death action took place, contact the attorneys at Reeves, Aiken, and Hightower, LLP toll-free at 877-374-5999 for more information on how we can help you with your case.