A Charleston Probate is required if the deceased was a permanent resident of Charleston county and there are assets that need to be distributed to the heirs. Probate action may also be required if the deceased was a non-resident of South Carolina holding property in the county or had a right to take legal action in the county.

To start the probate action, if the decedent had a will (testate), within 30 days from date of death, the person nominated to be the executor or any party in possession of the Last Will and Testament should submit the original will, a certified copy of death certificate if available, and $10 filing fee to the Probate Court. The party named to be the Personal Representative may elect to retain a Charleston probate lawyer to represent the estate and start the application for them to be appointed as the Personal Representative (executor) of the estate. A clerk will be assigned to the probate case and will work with the Personal Representative or the South Carolina estate attorney on the necessary paperwork and notices that are required. If the decedent did not have a will (intestate), then there is a list set by statute of the party with priority to be appointed as the Personal Representative, starting with the surviving spouse.

Compared to many other states, the probate process in South Carolina is relatively simple, especially if there is a Last Will and Testament. The person appointed as the Personal Representative can often handle to process without the assistance of a South Carolina probate lawyer. However, if the Personal Representative resides out of state, they will need someone living is South Carolina to assist them and usually that should be an attorney. For probate actions like a will contest, determination of common law spouse, sale of real estate, determination of heirs and similar issues, it is advisable to retain a probate attorney. Since the attorney fee is normally an estate expense, the cost to retain an estate attorney will be usually be shared by all of the heirs of the estate. 

Charleston Probate Court

Note that this site is a private commercial website and not associated with any governmental agency. Below is the information on how to directly contact the Charleston court.

The Charleston Probate Court Commitment Division, Guardianship and Conservatorship is located in the Judicial Center at
100 Broad Street, Suite 469
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-5180
(843) 958-5191 (Fax)

Their office hours are Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Charleston County Probate or Estate Division is located in the
Historic Courthouse at
84 Broad Street, Third Floor
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-5030
(843) 958-5044 (Fax)

Their office hours are Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Marriage License Division is also located in the
Judicial Center at
100 Broad Street, Suite 469
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 958-5183
(843) 958-5191 (Fax)

Their office hours are Monday-Friday
8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Charleston County does have estate and guardianship records online and you can find them at



A person appointed to handle an estate used to be called an Executor/Executrix or Administrator/Administratrix. Today the person appointed to handle an estate is called the Personal Representative or PR. However, most people, including most probate attorneys, still use the executor designation.

A person is not the executor of an estate until legally appointed by the Charleston probate court, even if they are nominated in the will. Usually, the Personal Representative or Executor is named in the will by the deceased and that person will be appointed by the probate court. However, the right to be appointed can result through the will, by law, by renunciation, or by termination. Any person with rights to be the PR may decline and nominate another. If a formal proceeding is required, following service of the formal Summons/Petition a hearing will be scheduled to determine who is the appropriate person to be appointed as the PR to administer the estate.

The Personal Representative is responsible for taking charge of and collecting, protecting and administering the estate. This includes giving Notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory of the estate, making sure assets are secure during probate time, paying required claims and costs, and making sure the proper people get what they are entitled to receive.The Personal Representative is the one that decides whether to retain a Charleston probate attorney to assist in the probate process.
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Although his office is in Greenville, Attorney Wayne Patterson practices on a regular basis in the Charleston County Probate Court.
South Carolina Estate Planning Attorney
10 Century Dr. Suite B
Greenville, SC 29607

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Do I Need a Probate Attorney

In most cases you will not need an attorney to assist you as the personal representative if you live in South Carolina. Simply call the probate court and schedule an appointment. You will need an original of the death certificate, original of the will if there is one, the contact information for all beneficiaries under the will and also all intestate heirs. While the clerk can assist you with the forms, the probate court cannot provide you with any legal advice. If you live out of state, you will need to appoint an agent in South Carolina and usually that should be an attorney. 


South Carolina Probate may be considered AN ADVERTISEMENT or Advertising Material under the Rules of Professional Conduct governing South Carolina lawyers. This site is intended to provide you only with general information. South Carolina Probate does NOT provide legal, financial, or tax advice. Please consult a professional in these areas. Only an attorney licensed in your state can provide you with legal advice. This is a PRIVATE COMMERCIAL WEBSITE and not associated with any governmental agency. The content of any third party site which visit via a link from this site is solely the responsibility of the provider of that web site.




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