Duties of the Personal Representative

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SECTION 62-3-703 of the South Carolina Probate Code defines the scope of the Personal Representative’s duties as follows:

A personal representative is a fiduciary who shall observe the standards of care described by Section 62-7-804. A personal representative has a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of a probated and effective will and this code, and as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate. He shall use the authority conferred upon him by this code, the terms of the will, and any order in proceedings to which he is party for the best interests of successors to the estate.

Sometimes the Personal Representative is required to post a bond; however, there are several circumstances in which bond may be waived.  Click here to read more about bond waiver.

Upon appointment of the Personal Representative, he or she must send notice of the appointment and specific information to the heirs and devisees (305ES).   The notice must indicate whether probate is testate or intestate, provide the name and address of the personal representative, indicate that it is being sent to persons who have or may have some interest in the estate being administered, indicate whether bond has been filed, and describe the court where papers relating to the estate are on file. The personal representative’s failure to give this information is a breach of his duty to the persons concerned.

Administration of the Estate

The Personal Representative is responsible for producing an accurate inventory and determine the value of all assets of the testator.  For the purpose of the inventory, all assets are valued as of the date of death.  In determining what to include in the initial inventory, it is helpful to review bank deposits, tax records, mail,  and county property records.  Additionally, the personal representative should speak with the testator’s friends, employer, and anyone who prepared a will.  To read more about completing Form 350ES click here.

Authority to Sell –  Although the Order of Appointment gives a personal representative the same power over the title to property of the estate that an absolute owner would have for the benefit of the creditors, devisees, and heirs, the Personal Representative may not sell property  without court supervision unless the will  gives the personal representative specific authority to sell property.   Real property of the estate may only be sold as authorized by specified court procedures (Sections 62-3-911 or Sections 62-3-1301) and tangible or intangible personal property (other than securities regularly traded) having an aggregate value of ten thousand dollars or more may only be sold after application to the court and notices to interested parties.

Distribution and Accounting – The Personal Representative is responsible for paying all claims and making all distributions to devisees and heirs.  and, unless waived by all interested parties, file an accounting that details any and all Estate income, expenses, paid claims, and distributions. (Form 361ES)

To close the Estate the Personal Representative must prepare and provide specific documents required under South Carolina Probate Code to creditors, heirs and devisees.  Several of the documents must be additionally filed with the court and the Personal Representative must provide proof that he or she gave all required notices to all interested parties.  Click here to read more on closing the Estate.

Small Administration and Abbreviated Administration is possible based on specific circumstances.  Where  the surviving spouse is the sole beneficiary many of the steps of closing the estate may be waived and if there is only personal property of a value less than $25,000, probate may not need to be opened at all.  Please feel free to contact Fresh Start if you need a small probate administration.

Because Fresh Start SC aims to serve low-income individuals, Fresh Start SC representation is only available for estates less than $25,000 or for single asset estates.  Click here if you would like to speak with a Fresh Start SC attorney regarding a small estate or single asset estate.

Our personal service is available for larger estates through McAleer Pennington Law LLC, Click here speak with an attorney regarding a multiple asset estates or estate valued over $25,000.