Probate Lawyer in James Island, 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 James Island, 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 James Island, 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 James Island, SC
Probate Lawyer James Island, 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 James Island, 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 James Island, 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 James Island, 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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phone-number 843-936-6680

Latest News in James Island, SC

SC High School League denies appeals by James Island, Burke

The first challenges to the S.C. High School League’s reclassification of its member schools began on Tuesday, as 12 schools appealed their placement in the league's realignment for the 2024-26 school years.Ten more schools will make their appeals on Wednesday.School officials made their cases to the league’s executive committee, and can take their appeals to the league’s appellate panel later this week. A total of 22 schools statewide are lodging appeals with the executive committee.Most of the appeals...

The first challenges to the S.C. High School League’s reclassification of its member schools began on Tuesday, as 12 schools appealed their placement in the league's realignment for the 2024-26 school years.

Ten more schools will make their appeals on Wednesday.

School officials made their cases to the league’s executive committee, and can take their appeals to the league’s appellate panel later this week. A total of 22 schools statewide are lodging appeals with the executive committee.

Most of the appeals center around the SCHSL's decision to use a multiplier to determine student enrollments for its purposes, with students attending a school from outside of its assigned attendance zone counting three times. The multiplier was installed in an effort to address competitive-balance issues, with private and charter schools dominating state championships in lower classifications in recent years.

Three Charleston-area schools made their appeals on Tuesday.

James Island Charter, moved to Class AAAAA in reclassification, had its request to remain in AAAA denied. Burke, moved up to Class AA, had its appeal to remain in Class A denied.

Charleston Math & Science, moved up to Class AAA from Class A, won its appeal to remain in Class A for the next two years.

Bishop England, bumped up from Class AA to AAAA, will have its appeal to move to Class AAA heard on Wednesday.

Columbia's Gray Collegiate Academy, a sports-oriented charter school and a center of much of the competitive-balance debate, was bumped up two classifications, from AA to AAAA, by the league's multiplier. The school requested to play in Class AAA, but was denied by a vote of 12-3.

James Island officials made their case to remain AAAA by saying the school was willing to remain in Region 7-AAAA, which includes Colleton County and Beaufort-area schools. The school said it was willing to accept a considerable increase in travel expenses over what it would incur in a local AAAAA region.

Members of the committee noted that James Island’s attendance numbers, which total 1,968 including the multiplier, would place the school in Class AAAAA even without the multiplier, but only because the league has increased the number of AAAAA schools to 56.

After discussion, the committee voted 14-1 to deny the request to remain in AAAA.

Charleston Math & Science, which is currently in Class A, was reclassified to AAA by the league. The school, which is not competitive for state titles in most programs, hinted that a move to AAA could result in the school closing all of its athletics programs. School officials said the athletic department operates at a deficit as a Class A school.

According to the multiplier numbers, CMS would be the smallest school in AAA with 672 students, and would have almost 400 actual students fewer than two schools, Dillon and Newberry, just ahead of them in the AAA list.

The committee decided by a vote of 12-3 to allow CMS to remain in Class A for the next two years.

Burke appealed a move from Class A to AA based on a decline in competitiveness, even though its attendance numbers are solidly in Class AA even without the multiplier. Enrollment numbers, however, are in a steady decline; Burke's multiplier attendance number is 469.

The committee voted 14-1 to put Burke in Class AA. Burke could be reassigned to Class A in the next reclassification in 2026.

In other appeals on Tuesday, Abbeville High was denied (by 9-5) an appeal to be assigned to Class A. Abbeville is currently listed as the smallest AA school in the state (379 students with the multiplier), while three schools in Class A have larger attendance numbers. Abbeville will appeal the decision to the appellate panel.

Seneca High’s appeal to remain in Class AAA was denied (14-1), and the school will be assigned to AAAA.

Fox Creek won its appeal (by 11-3) to move to Class AAA. Fox Creek was originally bumped from Class AA to Class AAAA in the realignment.

Southside Christian, a private school in Simponsville, was denied (by 9-5) its appeal to move from Class AAA to AA. Southside Christian was moved from Class A to AAA in the recent reclassification with a multiplier attendance number of 676.

Brashier Middle College, a charter school in the upstate, was assigned to Class AAA, a move up from Class A. The school appealed to be classified to Class AA and the committee granted that request by a vote of 12-4.

High Point Academy, a Class A school in Spartanburg, was moved to Class AAA after use of the multiplier. The school appealed to stay in Class A, but was denied. However, the committee did vote to place the school into Class AA.

Horse Creek Academy of North Augusta, moving into the SCHSL for the first time, was classified to AAA. However, the school offers only 10 varsity sports and one junior varsity program, and does not field a football program. The committee voted to put the school in Class A.

St. Joseph’s Catholic School of Greenville, currently in Class A, was reclassified to Class AAA and requested to be placed in Class AA. The committee denied the request by 12-2.

Crews continue work on water main breaks that caused road damage

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Crews are continuing to work to repair two major water main breaks that happened within a day of each other on James Island and in West Ashley.Public Information Administrator for Charleston Water System Mike Saia says while the collapsed ground looks like a sinkhole, the damage didn’t happen that way in a technical sense. The damage to the ground and roads is from the strong water pressure when the water lines broke under the pressure. The water force caused the ground around the pipe to explode outw...

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Crews are continuing to work to repair two major water main breaks that happened within a day of each other on James Island and in West Ashley.

Public Information Administrator for Charleston Water System Mike Saia says while the collapsed ground looks like a sinkhole, the damage didn’t happen that way in a technical sense. The damage to the ground and roads is from the strong water pressure when the water lines broke under the pressure. The water force caused the ground around the pipe to explode outward as opposed to sinking inward.

“Main breaks in the late part of the winter or early spring are really very common because the temperatures take wild swings with freezing one day, then they were in the 70s for a few days. After that what happens is that temperature change inside our mains really changed the structure of the pipe and to make it a little bit more brittle,” Saia says.

Saia says the water lines themselves were fixed quickly and based on the locations of the breaks, only a few customers were affected for a short time on Highway 61.

“Our main break for Fort Johnson Road was a 24-inch water main, a much bigger pipe with much bigger impact to the site and the road. But no customers were without water at any time because we were able to route the water from other means in the area and keep our customers in service at all times,” Saia says.

“It is likely Fort Johnson will be closed for at least several more days while all repairs are completed,” the town said in an updated post Sunday night. The post attributes the delay to expected rain it states will complicate the already extensive repairs to the broken water line.

With water access and pipe structure handled, now their work turns to repairing the damaged roadways. Saia says on Highway 61 luckily one lane has remained open, and it is a smaller issue that can be fixed faster than the major break on James Island.

“Our crews responded immediately but when a 24-inch water main breaks, it creates a lot of devastation and a lot of destruction. And it took Fort Johnson completely out of service where it remains today. It’ll probably take us another two days, maybe even three to get the road restored,” Saia says.

Saia says Charleston Water System handles about 150 main breaks a year and these two are on the larger side of the average leak. He says crews are always on standby for this type of situation. He explains the cost of repairs is within the system’s regular budget.

“We’re able to handle all the street repairs on Highway 61 and will eventually bring a contractor in to do the final paving. But we are absolutely fully relying on a contractor to do the site remediation for Fort Johnson and because it’s such a very large area, actually contractors are going to do all the backfilling and all the paving throughout the remainder of the project,” Saia said.

James Island First Presbyterian Church sits at the corner of Fort Johnson and Jeffords Street. Despite the main break over the weekend, they were able to get their water running and a plan in place so Sunday Services went off without a hitch.

Mike Terelak, ruling elder on the Buildings and Grounds Committee for the church, says it was a team effort and he talked a lot with the Charleston Water System and SCDOT who helped them get through Sunday and make sure families have access to the child-care center this week.

“We had our annual Chili Cook-Off, which is a big event here. It raised a lot of money for James Island outreach and other missions that we run. And everybody came out, it was a big great time. We had a baptism, we have new members joining the church. So it was a really great day for our church and a little bit of mud wouldn’t have stopped that,” Terelak says.

Saia says since the roads are the Department of Transportation’s, he is in contact with officials there and everyone is collaborating toward a solution as fast as is possible. Saia asks that everyone who can, steer clear of Fort Johnson Road which he expects will be fully closed until at least Wednesday.

Charleston Water System will have a mobile board placed on Fort Johnson to direct drivers to turn onto Secessionville Road, the post states. Those closer to the site will see Charleston County Sheriff’s Office detour signs directing them around the sinkhole by way of Avenue A and then to Folly Road.

The post urged drivers to avoid the area if possible, suggesting Camp Road or Harbor View Road as alternate routes.

The Charleston Water System was able to divert water Saturday morning to ensure that homes in the area had working water. Anyone who does not have water service should call the Charleston Water System at 843-727-6800.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Proposed James Island preschool sparks drainage worry for neighboring homeowners

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The site of a proposed preschool on James Island is causing some neighbors to worry about what their yards will look like during a storm or what the traffic will look like during rush hour.The city of Charleston’s Design Review Board approved the basics, like what kind of building materials and plants the developer wants to use, for example, at the proposed Goddard Preschool located at 1137 Folly Rd., ...

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The site of a proposed preschool on James Island is causing some neighbors to worry about what their yards will look like during a storm or what the traffic will look like during rush hour.

The city of Charleston’s Design Review Board approved the basics, like what kind of building materials and plants the developer wants to use, for example, at the proposed Goddard Preschool located at 1137 Folly Rd., at Tuesday night’s meeting.

However, neighbor Matthew Pertuset says he’s more worried about what the city will review later on.

“How is that going to affect the, not just the people that back up, but the entire neighborhood?” Pertuset said.

The proposed preschool sits directly behind Pertuset’s home in the Queenborough neighborhood. He says he’s worried about the design of this building’s drainage because of how it already acts during storms.

“We’re already holding water,” Pertuset said. “So, for that to come up even more, I’m not sure. So, it’s a huge concern.”

But Robert Summerfield, the director of planning, preservation and sustainability for the city of Charleston, said because they have some of the most comprehensive stormwater regulations in the region, no project could make the problem worse but could only improve it.

“They’re working very hard to make sure that they are utilizing the existing wetlands on site and enhancing that as a stormwater catchment area,” Summerfield said.

But that’s not the only concern.

“If it is going to be a pickup, you know, we’re right here on Folly Road, how does that look during rush hour traffic in the mornings and the afternoons?” Pertuset said. “Is it going to get pushed into our neighborhood for us to deal with or is it just going to come to a stop on Folly Road?”

Summerfield said the city has already thought about it.

“We have created a drop-off low space so that cars, as they come in and drop their children off or pick them up, will actually flow through the site so that there’s a queueing situation that will occur so that people aren’t ideally not queueing out on Folly,” Summerfield said.

Neither the Goddard School nor the applicant, AAG Architects for Vista 26, LLC, have responded to requests for comment.

However, Pertuset said no matter what comes on this property, he just wants the city to be thorough with their plans.

“It is something that the community needs,” Pertuset said. “I think James Island could afford to have another preschool.”

Summerfield said the city will discuss more drainage specifics once the developer submits the next step to the Technical Review Committee. They will have to pass all initial designs before that is done and there’s currently no timeline of when that might take place.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Traffic relief coming soon to drivers of Johns Island

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County leaders have been working to improve traffic congestion on Johns Island and the area of Maybank Highway and River Road will soon be much easier to travel on.The county has been working on improvements to Maybank Highway since 2004 and will soon have the third and final phase of these improvement projects completed. P...

JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston County leaders have been working to improve traffic congestion on Johns Island and the area of Maybank Highway and River Road will soon be much easier to travel on.

The county has been working on improvements to Maybank Highway since 2004 and will soon have the third and final phase of these improvement projects completed. Pitchfork Road connects Fenwick Hall Alle to River Road and will serve as an alternative route to Maybank Highway.

Drivers traveling from James Island to Johns Island will be able to bypass the light at Maybank Highway and River Road by using the new Pitchfork Road. This will also apply to drivers coming in the opposite direction. This road can be used as an alternate route to get to James Island. Pitchfork Road will be officially open for use on the afternoon of March 25 and county leaders encourage everyone to use it.

Construction on Pitchfork Road began in 2022 and leaders are excited to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the official opening of the road. This will take place on March 25.

County Construction Project Manager Sheila Parker says that they are really looking to improve safety and relieve traffic in the area.

“I think the people in general are looking forward to, you know, new infrastructure come into John’s Island to help alleviate traffic. We see, you know, development coming and so we need the infrastructure to really accommodate all that,” Parker says.

Parker says that the county has recently made some other changes to the intersection of Maybank Highway and River Road to further improve the flow of traffic.

“We recently restriped Maybank at the intersection of Maybank and River Road, really to accommodate more storage to the left turn lane,” she says. “Previously the left turn lane would stack up with cars and it would block the through lane going straight and so, that would cause traffic backups. Now with more storage, the left turn lane traffic flow improves, and more people can get into the left turn lane.”

Parker says that all of this work is to benefit the residents and drivers of the community and to make traveling on these roads a little easier.

“It’s great to see headway and, you know, the improvements are coming slowly but surely. We’re looking to relieve traffic and improve safety of this area. This has been a big focus for the county,” Parker says.

The county has some safety improvements coming to River Road soon as well. Crews will be working on the addition of reflective markings and rumble strips to the road. This work will lead to some nighttime closures on River Road from Main Road to Maybank Highway. This will take place from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Friday for about the next two weeks.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Change in proposed development still not satisfying James Island residents

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A proposed storage facility and at least ten new homes could be coming to Dills Bluff Road on James Island if one developer’s sale moves forward.But some neighbors say after months of seeing the plans change, they say they still aren’t pleased with the proposal.The plans have changed for 6.5 acres of Dills Bluff Road on James Island. Earlier plans included ...

JAMES ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - A proposed storage facility and at least ten new homes could be coming to Dills Bluff Road on James Island if one developer’s sale moves forward.

But some neighbors say after months of seeing the plans change, they say they still aren’t pleased with the proposal.

The plans have changed for 6.5 acres of Dills Bluff Road on James Island. Earlier plans included at least 20 homes with around 20,000 square feet of commercial space. After the town denied that plan in October, the new proposal involves a new storage facility with at least ten new homes.

“A storage unit facility is incredibly inappropriate for this area,” James Island resident Casey Buchanan says. “Yes, some of the parcel is zoned commercial because it’s right next to the shopping center here. But that zoning was done 20 years ago before all that we knew about flooding.”

Buchanan adds this will have an impact on property value.

“Really doing anything that reduces our resilience to storms as an island is really just incredibly foolish,” Buchanan says. “And I would be very cautious if I were to be — if I was buying a home now, buying in this area, especially if this plan is slated to go forward.”

John Peters, who lives in Whitehouse Plantation right behind this property, says he’s heard from more long-time residents that the flooding is worse during storms now than it was during Hurricane Hugo.

“Not making a problem where we have to rethink Dills Bluff Road because we’re already rethinking Folly Road,” Peters says.

Peters has created numerous petitions, with his current online one having over 960 signatures voting against this new proposal. He says this greenspace should be partially preserved and put to better use.

“Create a space that allows food trucks, a food truck radio or something that has a market area like they do downtown,” Peters said.

The two say the developer, Taylor Consulting Group, hasn’t had any meetings with the public since the original denial of the first plan.

The proposed plan has numerous grand trees slated to stay, but Buchanan says that’s not enough.

“They’re critical for managing stormwater on an urban sea island, which is what James Island is,” Buchanan said. “We don’t have a lot of these sponge forests left.”

The town of James Island says this is now a build-by-right property, which means Taylor Consulting Group has the right to build what they want under the right density with no more votes. The sale from the James Island Public Service District to the developer is still under contract.

“They may say they care about James Island,” Peters said. “Caring about James Island would be preserving James Island at this point.”

Taylor Consulting Group did not respond to a request for comment.

Residents say the next James Island Public Service District meeting is Feb. 26 at James Island Fire Station #1 at 7 p.m. and it’s one of the last chances to voice your opinion publicly before the sale could be finalized on March 1.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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