Probate Lawyer in Bluffton, SC

About The CDH Law Firm Difference

As seasoned probate lawyers in South Carolina, we understand that Estate Administration often involves sensitive family dynamics as much as it does the legal minutia involved in probate law. After all, a person's estate not only affects their generation but the generations that follow.

But when your loved one passes, their assets must be managed and distributed correctly. When mismanaged, disputes often arise between parties like the Beneficiaries, Trustees, Heirs, or Executors of a Will. Even when everything is managed the right way, arguments and misunderstandings can still occur, and even evolve into bitter legal battles necessitating probate litigation.

It stands to reason, then, that you should hire a probate lawyer in Bluffton, SC to help. But the truth is, many attorneys don't have vast experience with probate and trust work. If they do, they aren't usually seasoned trial attorneys. That's what separates probate attorneys at CHSA Law, LLC from others - we have the ability to help plan your Estate and litigate estate disputes if they arise.

We are keenly familiar with local probate judges, courtroom staff members, and the related procedures involved with South Carolina probate law. Our intimate knowledge and experience help us successfully navigate the probate process to complete our client's cases quickly and efficiently.

But that's just one aspect that sets CDH apart from other firms. Understanding the importance of personalized attention, we also make an intentional decision to limit our law firm's overall caseload. This allows us to better focus on individual clients, many of whom remain with us for generations. We do not pass off cases to paralegals or junior associates but rather prioritize the attorney-client relationship. We value compassion and integrity, and our practice reflects those values.

Moreover, trust is one of the most important aspects of the attorney-client relationship. We work to create an open, friendly environment in which you can feel comfortable. After years of experience, we boast the skill and experience necessary to earn that trust - and that's a priceless commodity when it comes to probate cases in South Carolina.

Understanding The Probate Process in South Carolina

When a loved one passes away, it's natural to go through a time of emotional adjustment. However, it's crucial for the family of the loved one to face the financial realities of their estate. That reality includes the probate process, which involves distributing assets and settling the estate. A probate attorney in Bluffton, SC is often recommended to assist during this time. This process isn't just recommended - it's often a legal responsibility in South Carolina.

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Steps to the Probate Process in South Carolina

01

Delivery of Will Upon Death: During probate, the first step involves having a will delivered to an Estate Administrator or to the probate court. The deadline to accomplish this task is 30 days.

02

A Personal Representative is Assigned: This individual is often named in a Will and should be appointed officially by the court.

03

A Notice is Sent to Intestate Heirs: If these heirs feel that they should inherit, they have a right to challenge this step.

04

The Estate is Inventoried and Appraised: This process must occur within 90 days of opening an estate. In some estates with valuables like jewelry, art, and property, professional appraisers may be needed.

05

Settling Accounts: During this step, the estate must pay any applicable taxes, ongoing expenses, or outstanding debts. Should the estate not have enough money to pay these debts, creditors must be paid according to South Carolina code.

06

Distributions: If there is money in the estate after debts are paid, those funds are given to heirs of the estate, according to the Will or the State.

07

Discharge: As soon as any claims are paid, the personal representative of the estate will file documents to close the estate. To make this official, the court will issue a Certificate of Discharge.

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Avoiding Probate in South Carolina

Though most estates in South Carolina must go through probate, it is possible to avoid. This happens when a decedent's assets are placed in a Living Trust prior to their death. In this scenario, beneficiaries must be designated in order to inherit the estate. Suppose there are funds that have been promised to beneficiaries via life insurance policies or bank accounts with "payable upon death" designations. In that case, those funds do not have to go through probate.

Assets subject to probate in South Carolina include:

  • Interest in an LLC, Partnership, or Corporation
  • Real Estate Held as a Tenant in Common
  • Property Held in Only the Deceased's Name
 Probate Attorney Bluffton, SC
Probate Lawyer Bluffton, SC

Assets that are not subject to probate in South Carolina include:

  • Assets Placed in a Trust
  • Assets Which Are Already Tied to a Beneficiary
  • Pension Plan Assets
  • Insurance Policies with Beneficiaries
  • Beneficiaries of Retirement Funds
  • Real Estate or Property with Right of Survivorship
  • Real Estate or Property with Joint Tenancy
  • Accounts That Are Transferable or Payable Upon Death
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Avoiding Probate: Yes or No?

Though it's not always possible, some families go out of their way to avoid the probate process in South Carolina. Doing so can help save money in the long run and also expedite the distribution of funds to heirs. By avoiding probate, you're also keeping personal matters private.

Because every person has different estate and probate complexities, it's hard to say whether avoiding probate is good or bad. Whether or not you should avoid probate depends on your unique situation. As a general rule, it's always best to consult with a probate lawyer in Bluffton, SC, for honest feedback and probate assistance.

Typically, having a Living Trust or a Will in place will make transferring assets easier. A little prep ahead of time will make a world of difference when your loved one passes away. After all, nobody is ever prepared for a relative or family friend's death, but a compassionate, trustworthy probate attorney can make the process easier.

FAQsSouth Carolina Probate FAQs

For many families, "Probate" is a dirty term that involves heartbreak and headaches. And while the probate process in South Carolina can be complex and stressful, having answers to some of the most common probate questions can help put your mind at ease.

Q.

My family member recently passed away, and we're considering their estate. How long will the probate process take?

A.

The time it takes an estate to go through probate in South Carolina varies depending on a number of questions, including:

  • Does the deceased have a valid will?
  • Is the Estate complex or large?
  • Is the Will contested?
  • Have any lawsuits been filed?
  • Is the personal representative of the estate efficient?

When conditions are good, a small or simple estate usually takes about a year to close. More complicated estates may take longer.


Q.

My loved one mentioned opening a Trust to protect my assets. What is a Trust, and what Trusts should I consider?

A.

As is the case with most probate decisions, opening a Trust should be based on your unique situation and guidance from your probate attorney in Bluffton, SC. With that said, a Trust is meant to hold property for your loved one's benefit. When a Trust is created, assets are transferred into the said Trust and managed accordingly. Though there is a common misconception that Trusts are reserved for the wealthy, just about any family can benefit from opening a Trust.

The most common types of Trusts used in probate include:

  • Living Trust: These trusts are opened and controlled by you while you're still living. When you pass away, the assets in the trust are distributed to the beneficiaries you choose. Typically, these trusts do not go through the probate process.
  • Testamentary Trust: These trusts are usually established after you pass away and are included in your will. These trusts must go through the probate process in South Carolina, though they allow for the distribution of property within a certain time frame.
  • Special Needs Trust: This type of trust gives financial support to your loved one if they are disabled.

When conditions are good, a small or simple estate usually takes about a year to close. More complicated estates may take longer.


Q.

What happens when somebody dies without a will in South Carolina?

A.

When a person passes away without a Will in South Carolina, the state decides who gets their decedent's assets. This is also called passing intestate. When this happens, usually only spouses, blood relatives, or registered domestic partners can inherit property according to intestate succession laws.

Relatives who receive the probate property of the deceased are usually chosen in the following order:

  • Living Spouse
  • Children or Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Brothers or Sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and Aunts
  • Extended Family

If you're in need of a veteran probate lawyer in South Carolina, look no further than CDH Law Firm. With years of experience in Estate Administration and probate cases, our team is ready to serve you with excellence and protect your interests. Have additional questions? We're here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about Estate Administration in South Carolina.

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Law is complicate matter. It can cause you a big problem if you ignore it. Let us help you!

A Caring, Confident Approach to Probate in South Carolina

Planning your estate is the first step to take if you want to protect your family, your assets, your well-being, and the fruits of your hard work.

At CHSA Law, LLC, our team of experienced probate lawyers in Bluffton, SC, can help you navigate the entire Estate Administration process. Through creative legal strategies and a clear understanding of your goals and desires, we work together to make your asset and estate visions a reality. It's never too early to get your estate in order. In fact, estate planning is important for everyone, whether you're single or married, young or old, with or without children. If you're ready to protect your assets and be prepared for probate, contact CHSA Law, LLC, today.

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Latest News in Bluffton, SC

Neighbors concerned over contaminated tap water in Bluffton area

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) — Imagine getting a notice from your utility company saying your drinking water may be contaminated. This recently happened to people who live in several Bluffton neighborhoods.“You expect your water to be safe and drinkable. So it’s very disappointing,” said Joshua Hower, who moved to Okatie in 2021 with his wife. He said since moving to the Lowcountry, his skin has gotten significantly dryer.People who live south of Broad River in Beaufort County most likely got a letter from the ...

BLUFFTON, S.C. (WSAV) — Imagine getting a notice from your utility company saying your drinking water may be contaminated. This recently happened to people who live in several Bluffton neighborhoods.

“You expect your water to be safe and drinkable. So it’s very disappointing,” said Joshua Hower, who moved to Okatie in 2021 with his wife. He said since moving to the Lowcountry, his skin has gotten significantly dryer.

People who live south of Broad River in Beaufort County most likely got a letter from the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewage Authority.

It reads that during four quarterly water quality tests last year, the amount of disinfection byproducts violated a standard for safe drinking water.

“It’s definitely a little alarming, a little scary to think that I’ve been drinking this water for a year and a half, use it to wash my hands, take a shower, brush my teeth, and there could be long-term impacts to that.”

BJWSA said customers shouldn’t be worried. The letter reads that for it to cause cancer you’d have to drink this water over years. However, it doesn’t say exactly how long that would take.

“It’s only an issue if you’re exposed for X amount of time or you didn’t tell us what the total suspended solids were with the parts per million were you’re really just guesstimating how much I’ve been exposed to, how much tap water I drink based on the average amount of tap water,” Hower said. “Most people I think you’d find if you did a survey, most people say they don’t drink tap water, but they do. They just don’t realize they drink as much as they do. So your average is probably skewed. So the actual consumption rate, it’s probably much higher than you think. So your impact is much higher than you’re projecting, which is why these issues tend to snowball.”

The company said the reason the water was contaminated was because they used chlorine to change the color. Many people who live in the Bluffton area complain about brown or yellow-colored water.

“The water doesn’t need to look perfect. It needs to be safe,” Hower said. “And that should be the primary concern of providing water to the area.”

The company told WSAV that the water is safe to drink now.

“We mailed a public notice to customers located south of the Broad River, about quarterly testing results that indicated levels of haloacetic acids (HAA5) were higher than average regulatory limits,” a BJWSA spokesperson told WSAV in a statement. “This is not an emergency, we notified customers because they have the right to know details about the water they drink. Follow-up, supplemental tests show that HAA5 levels are back to normal with results between .052 and .031 mg/L, since October.”

The company also forwarded customers to a Q&A webpage.

They say the levels are back to normal and that the letter was not meant to alarm customers. However, even if it’s safe to drink people who live in the area are upset they didn’t get told earlier.

“It’s irresponsible to not give out this information as soon as you have it,” Hower said. “I know there’s a fine line between inciting panic in the local populace, and I really do understand that. I’m not trying to bind somebody up and say that I want to know the minute that you know that something’s not right. But within 30 days, we should have a notification.”

Kenny B’s Cajun restaurant getting ready for Mardi Gras in new Bluffton location

With Mardi Gras season officially under way in Louisiana, Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe is gearing up for the holiday in its new Bluffton location.The restaurant that serves Cajun and Creole specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner first opened on Hilton Head’s south end in 1999 and, last year, made the decision to move to a larger space just across the bridges.Its new home is in Bridge Center, along U.S...

With Mardi Gras season officially under way in Louisiana, Kenny B’s French Quarter Cafe is gearing up for the holiday in its new Bluffton location.

The restaurant that serves Cajun and Creole specialties for breakfast, lunch and dinner first opened on Hilton Head’s south end in 1999 and, last year, made the decision to move to a larger space just across the bridges.

Its new home is in Bridge Center, along U.S. 278 across from Moss Creek, and it quietly opened its doors to customers starting Dec. 27.

“I’ll be honest,” said chef and owner Ken Ballard, “it rejuvenated me doing this again. I had good memories from when we first started because that was a dream come true, you know, to finally get your own place.”

The building, once home to Thai Smile Cuisine, was extensively renovated over nearly a year to create a large waiting area for take-out orders and a spacious dining area with a combination of tables and booths and plenty of natural light.

There are reminders of the original location, with framed mementos and posters lining the walls. Ballard even had large canvases printed with photos of the iconic French Quarter mural that went from floor to ceiling at the Hilton Head restaurant.

The larger space also allowed for the creation of a vivid red “Dawghouse” room for fans of the University of Georgia bulldogs. Ballard’s own bulldog Beignet Bouchet (“BAYN-yay BOO-shay”), named for the Louisiana-style pastry fried and dusted with powdered sugar, is well represented among the photos.

All of Ballard’s employees moved to the new location, and he has also added additional staff.

While the space is new, customers can be reassured that the menu hasn’t changed.

Previously, all ordering was done on paper and customers were rung up on an old cash register. The new space now has a modern point-of-sale accounting system that allows pick-up orders to be placed online.

“I’ve had a good mix of my old customers from Hilton Head, a lot of them tourists that were here for the new year holidays came in. That that was the best sign of anything, that I know I will still get my summer people, as I call them,” Ballard said, “and then I’ve gotten a lot more people that live out here that would have never went down to Hilton Head.”

The lunch shift in particular has been busy with locals on their midday breaks from work.

Mardi Gras on Tuesday, Feb. 13, will be a customer appreciation day. Ballard hopes to have his license to serve beer and wine by then, but regardless, he plans lunch specials on po-boys, jambalaya, gumbo and muffalettas. Of course, there will be king cake; at Kenny B’s, those who find a plastic baby in their cake will get a prize.

On a recent day, two separate customers stopped to talk to compliment Ballard on the food and the space over the course of about 15 minutes.

“This is the best food ever,” said one woman who identified herself as from Ohio. “We have nothing like this.”

This story was originally published January 16, 2024, 9:12 AM.

New Italian restaurant coming to Old Town Bluffton. Here’s a look inside before it opens

One-year-old Joelle DeLeo sat in a stroller rattling a small plastic toy on a recent Thursday morning as activity buzzed around her. She was sitting in the middle of a soon-to-open restaurant that will bear her name in Bluffton.Joelle, the restaurant, is located at 132 Bluffton Road, Suite 100, in a newly constructed building that also is home to a salon, an architecture firm and other businesses. It’s the result of years of planning and work by two ge...

One-year-old Joelle DeLeo sat in a stroller rattling a small plastic toy on a recent Thursday morning as activity buzzed around her. She was sitting in the middle of a soon-to-open restaurant that will bear her name in Bluffton.

Joelle, the restaurant, is located at 132 Bluffton Road, Suite 100, in a newly constructed building that also is home to a salon, an architecture firm and other businesses. It’s the result of years of planning and work by two generations of the family, and, if all goes well with a liquor license and town permits, they will be serving patrons from a “modern Italian” menu later this spring.

Robert and Breana DeLeo, the toddler’s parents and the restaurant’s owner, met while working in the hospitality industry in Charleston, later moved to New York, and now live in Bluffton. Robert’s family owns Island Restaurant Equipment on Hilton Head. His father also is one of the partners in the development of the center where the restaurant is located, making it a true family business.

The DeLeos’ vision for the restaurant is light and airy but still cozy. Breana described it as “modern, but not too modern.”

“We’re trying to go very Italian coastal, very neutral tones,” she said.

That Italian coastal theme echoes in the food served there.

Chef Brandon Torre has worked at The Ritz-Carlton, The Omni Hotel, The Westin Hotel and, most recently, Colleton River Club in Bluffton. He is planning a menu that offers wood-fired pizza and Italian fare including fresh, house-made pasta.

The food will be “from-scratch fresh,” Torre said. “You can usually make it better yourself.”

The goal is not to duplicate traditional Italian-American fare but offer more modern, refreshing and lighter takes.

“We want very unique, very chef-forward dishes with the Italian cuisine as the focal point,” Robert DeLeo said.

To the right of the entrance, Joelle’s bar area will seat 18 between at the bar and at three tables there.

The inside dining area will seat around 44 people at tables and booths, while the outside dining area will seat around 50 people. Between them are large sliding doors that can be left open on nicer days.

The restaurant will be open six days a week for lunch and dinner. It will be closed on Tuesdays.

Why Tuesdays? Many restaurants in Bluffton reduce their hours or close altogether on Sundays and Mondays.

“Coming from New York and coming from an Italian family, we always used to go out for Italian dinner on Sundays,” Robert DeLeo explained. “That’s kind of the day to go out for that cuisine. ... Why not try and compete on those two days when not many places are open?”

This story was originally published March 11, 2024, 11:14 AM.

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Bluffton daffodil farm blooming and ready for visitors. Here’s when it will be open

A colder than usual winter has delayed the expected opening of the U Pick Daffodil farm, but the Bluffton-area attraction’s owners say they are now ready to welcome visitors.A trip to the farm has become a spring rite for families, flower-lovers and photographers, and co-owners Chuck and Diane Merrick expect to be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The farm may close early if the Merricks begin to run out of blooms.“Cold weather doesn’t hurt the flowers; it just slows them down,” said Chuck Me...

A colder than usual winter has delayed the expected opening of the U Pick Daffodil farm, but the Bluffton-area attraction’s owners say they are now ready to welcome visitors.

A trip to the farm has become a spring rite for families, flower-lovers and photographers, and co-owners Chuck and Diane Merrick expect to be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24. The farm may close early if the Merricks begin to run out of blooms.

“Cold weather doesn’t hurt the flowers; it just slows them down,” said Chuck Merrick, who estimated the blooming fields are about two weeks behind where they would be in a typical year.

The weather forecast for Saturday in Bluffton is sunny and windy with a high of 67, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston. Sunday will be sunny with a high near 60.

The fields are located at 48 Calhoun Plantation Road, just off Pinckney Colony Road.

Each stem picked is 50 cents. Cash and card payments will be accepted.

This year, the Merricks likely will open the fields only on weekends because that’s when their family is available to help them. Weather and the lack or abundance of blooms will affect what days the farm is open.

For information about days the farm will be open, watch its Facebook page or go to its website at upickdaffodils.com. Those who’d like to check on the status of the flowers before making a longer commute can also text Chuck Merrick at 843-368-1998.

The U Pick Daffodil tradition started more than 50 years ago, and each year the farm has expanded to meet a growing demand.

Chuck Merrick uses a planting machine purchased from Holland — it is pulled behind a tractor — to plant tens of thousands of daffodil bulbs with varying blooming times so the farm has a longer picking season.

Daffodils don’t grow easily in the Lowcountry climate, he previously told The Island Packet, and every year the farm loses about half of the ones they had planted in earlier years.

Bluffton Chef honored by being named 2024 South Carolina Chef Ambassador

BLUFFTON, S.C. —A Bluffton chef is being recognized in a big way.In this week's Lowcountry Living, we're sharing how she hopes to use her new title to bring positive change to the entire state of South Carolina.Leslie Rohland is head chef and owner of The Cottage, The Juice Hive, May River Coffee Roasters, and the Bluffton Pasta Shoppe.And she says her successful restaurant endeavors are thanks, in part, to her childhood.“Really do the stuff that I remember as a child loving to ...

BLUFFTON, S.C. —

A Bluffton chef is being recognized in a big way.

In this week's Lowcountry Living, we're sharing how she hopes to use her new title to bring positive change to the entire state of South Carolina.

Leslie Rohland is head chef and owner of The Cottage, The Juice Hive, May River Coffee Roasters, and the Bluffton Pasta Shoppe.

And she says her successful restaurant endeavors are thanks, in part, to her childhood.

“Really do the stuff that I remember as a child loving to see. My grandmothers, my grandfathers, my mother and my father do because everyone seemed to be a great cook back then. And just really taking the stuff I love to cook and then being able to serve it and put it on the table," said Rohland.

Rohland’s passion for cooking was just recognized by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster as she was named just one of three 2024 South Carolina Chef Ambassadors.

She’ll serve in this role for a year, and during that time, one of her main goals is to support local farmers.

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“It’s really nice to know where our food is coming from. It’s nice to be able to see the footprint of where the lettuce is from or the shrimp," Rohland said.

And she hopes her impact will last well beyond her time serving as Chef Ambassador.

“This is some information that really needs to be passed onto our kids. Kind of like the old days, you know, when you were creating recipes basically with what was in your backyard, said Rohland.

Roland says supporting local does more than just stimulate the economy; it also has health benefits for patrons.

“There’s nothing better, I think, than knowing what you’re eating, and knowing where it comes from. You know, we’ve all seen the labels on certain foods that are like, I can’t even pronounce that item. And this is just kind of like, ok, this came from up the road, and it’s strictly just eggplant," Roland said.

Rohland adds it was extra special to be selected as a South Carolina Chef Ambassador now as the program is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

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