Intestate Succession

When a person dies and there is no will (dying intestate) or when none of the people named in the Will survive the decedent, the people who inherit are set forth in South Carolina law called the law of intestate succession. All the probate estate that would have passed under the Will, if there had been one, passes instead to the people this law specifies. It is, in effect, the legislature's best guess as to what your Will would have said if you had written one. Here are a few examples:

If you die survived by a spouse: the spouse gets everything unless there were children also. If spouse and one or more children survive, the spouse gets half and children get (and divide) half, share and share alike. South Carolina is one of the few states that still recognizes common law marriages

If no spouse survives: and children survive, it goes all to children. If no children survive, then it goes all to mother and father or the one of them who survives. If no mother or father survive then it goes to brothers and sisters

As a general rule: If a child doesn't survive you but leaves their own children (grandchildren) who do survive you, the grandchildren take the share the child would have taken had your child survived you. A similar rule applies to a brother or sister who does not survive you, allowing a deceased brother or sister's children to take the share their parent would have taken had they survived. The legal term for this type of descent and distribution is called per stirpes.

Other applications of these rules become very complex and require legal assistance.

Five Reasons Why I Don't Have a Will

Intestate Succession Case Law

Determination of Paternity for Intestate Succession Neely v. Thomasson, 618 S.E.2d 884, 365 S.C. 345 (S.C. 2005)

S. C. Probate Code, §62-2-101 et seq. South Carolina Law on Succession with no Last Will and Testament