The South Carolina Executor (Personal Representative) Checklist is subject to local, state and federal laws and regulations and court decisions as precedent. Please consult South Carolina legal counsel regarding any points of law in probating a South Carolina estate.  This South Carolina executor’s guide should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice. The purpose of this personal representative checklist is to provide general information, not provide specific probate legal advice. The law constantly changes and is subject to differing interpretations. Always consult with your South Carolina probate attorney and act only on his or her advice.

A.               Make burial and funeral arrangements.

  1. Check the will/health care directive for directions regarding funeral arrangements and organ donation.
  2. Meet with the funeral director, cemetery representative and clergy to make burial and funeral arrangements.

B.                Executor Checklist for What Documents to Collect.  In addition to locating a Last Will and Testament, collect the following documents in order to establish insurance, pension, social security and ownership rights:

  1. Birth Certificate 
  2. Marriage certificate or divorce order
  3. Death Certificates from the funeral home, usually you will need at least ten
  4. Social Security Card
  5. Citizenship papers
  6. Insurance policies (life, health, credit, accident & property)
  7. Bank books and statements to determine name of bank, account numbers, balance and names on account
  8. Deeds
  9. Leases and tenant information
  10. Car title and registration - license number and vehicle identification number
  11.  Income tax returns (IRS Form 4506)
  12. Veterans Discharge Certificates
  13. Disability claims
  14. Property tax bills and receipts
  15. Credit card information
  16. Trusts
  17. Names and Addresses of relatives and beneficiaries
  18. Stocks - broker name, company name, number of shares and date of death value
  19. Bonds - serial number, issue date and date of death value
  20. Employment death benefits
  21. Separation agreements, prenuptial agreements and divorce decrees
  22. IRS form 712 from each life insurance company  

C.                Who to notify

  1. Creditors (e.g. credit card companies, mortgage company)
  2. Banks/Credit Unions Stockbrokers/Financial Planners Church or synagogue
  3. Post office (change of address if applicable)
  4. Relatives
  5. Employer
  6. Insurance agents: life, annuity, auto, health and disability Religious, fraternal, civic, veterans, professional and alumni organizations
  7. Newspapers regarding death notices
  8. Attorney
  9. Accountant
  10. Beneficiaries
  11. Social Security Administration
  12. Veterans Administration
  13. IRS Form 56: Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship
  14. Landlord
  15. Trustees
  16. Defense Finance and Accounting Service, 800-269-5170 (military service retiree receiving benefits)
  17. Office of Personal Management, 888-767-6738 (if decedent is a retired or former federal civil service employee)
  18.  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (if decedent was not a U.S. citizen)
  19. SC Department of Motor Vehicles (if decedent had a driver’s license or state ID)

D.        Notify Credit Reporting Agencies. Notify all three of the following national reporting agencies of the death and instruct them to list all accounts as “Closed. Account Holder is Deceased.” Include a copy of the death certificate.

  1. Experian, 888-397-3742, P.O. Box 9701, Allen, Texas 75013
  2. Equifax, 800-525-6285, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, Georgia 30348
  3. TransUnion, 800-680-7289, P.O. Box 6790, Fullerton, California 92834

E.        Executor Checklist for What Advisors to Hire:

  1. Retain a South Carolina attorney for probate and an out-of-state attorney for ancillary probate if there is out-of-state real property.
  2. Real estate and personal property appraisers.
  3. Real estate broker to sell the house or sublet the apartment.
  4. Investment advisors.
  5. Certified Public Accountant to prepare the estate, individual and fiduciary returns and to check with the IRS and state tax authorities for back taxes or unfiled returns.
  6. Insurance agent for the executor’s bond if required


Executor Checklist for Critical Dates

Date of Death                                                __________

Date Will filed with probate court                     __________ (required to be within 30 days of death)

Date of your appointment as Executor             __________

Date of First Publication to Creditors                __________

Date Notification mailed to heirs, devisees, etc.  __________ (required to be within 30 days of your appointment)

Date Inventory & Appraisement filed                 __________ (required to be within ninety days of your appointment)

Date Personal Income Tax Return filed with IRS  __________ (required to be April 15th year after death)

Statute of Limitations on filing of Creditor Claims _________ (eight months after date of first publication)

Date of Filing an Accounting & Proposal for Distribution,and Petition for Settlement                                                       __________ (within one year from date of first publication or ninety days from receipt of S. C. estate tax closing letter)

Termination of Appointment closing estate           __________ (thirty days after filing Petition for Settlement)

Alternate estate tax valuation date                      ___________ (date of death plus six months)

Federal and State Estate Tax Returns if required   ___________ (date of death plus nine months)

Tax Year End of Estate                                        ___________

File Federal and State Fiduciary Income tax returns  ___________ (3-1/2 months from estate’s tax year end)

The Probate Court should furnish you with a list of critical dates. If not, ask the probate clerk for one.


Do I Need a Probate Lawyer

In most cases you will not need an attorney to assist you as the personal representative if you live in South Carolina and there are minimal assets in the estate. 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 probate forms, the 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. 

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