South Carolina Non-resident Probate Proceedings

If an individual living in another State dies owning an interest in South Carolina real estate, whether a timeshare, condo, house or boatslip, Probate proceedings or a Register of Deeds filing will be necessary to document the death and convey title to his or her beneficiaries.


From simple to the more complex, the possible manners of holding title, and the "general rule" procedures to address an owner's death are as follows:


1.  Owned in a Trust:


In some instances, no filings are necessary at the time of death of the Grantor of a Revocable Trust.  If the real property is to remain in trust after the Grantor's death, and no estate tax issues require a change in the manner of holding title in the trust, no change will be necessary. Often, though, estate tax planning requires the filing of a deed to reflect transfer of the property to a specific section of the trust, or to advise the world of a change in Trustees. 


Generally, assuming no unusual circumstances, the fee is $300.00 Deed preparation and filing, plus $10.00 recording costs.


2. Jointly owned with survivorship rights (JTROS):


Real property titled in more than one name in South Carolina does not automatically belong to the remaining owner or owners when one owner dies. This is true even if the joint owners are husband and wife.  South Carolina does not recognize the "tenancy by entireties" manner of holding title, which would automatically cause any property owned jointly by a husband and wife to pass automatically at death of one spouse to the surviving spouse.


When ownership is JTROS, however, properly documenting a death, and the subsequent transfer of the property to the surviving owner, is simple.  A certified copy of the death certificate must be filed with the Register of Deeds, together with a statement of the property's legal description and derivation.


Generally, assuming no unusual circumstances, the fee is $250.00 for document preparation and filing, plus $10.00 recording costs.


3.  Owned individually, or owned jointly without survivorship rights:


In the case of real estate titled in the decedent's name alone, or jointly with another as "tenants in common", the appointment of a personal representative, also known as an executor, will be necessary.  The personal representative "steps into the decedent's shoes", and has the authority to sell real estate, or to convey it to named beneficiaries in a Will, or to the intestate heirs when there is no Will.  The personal representative may be appointed in the home State, or South Carolina. Even if the personal representative is appointed in the home State, however, South Carolina law will determine what steps are necessary to clear title to the property of issues arising from the death. 


Typical fees, assuming no unusual circumstances, if the personal representative/executor is appointed in the home State, are approximately $1,500.00, plus Court costs and filing fees of roughly $35.00.  The actual fee will be based upon hourly billings at the following rates:  $325.00/hour for Mr. Bratt; $225.00/hour for Ms. Southerland; and $100.00/hour for paralegals.


In the event that the personal representative is to be appointed in South Carolina, the fee will vary based upon circumstances, and will be based upon the hourly rates above.


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