Probate Lawyer in Kiawah 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 Kiawah 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 Kiawah 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 Kiawah Island, SC
Probate Lawyer Kiawah 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 Kiawah 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 Kiawah 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 Kiawah 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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Latest News in Kiawah Island, SC

Editorial: Stop wasting money; start conserving Capt Sam’s Spit

For years, we have called for the conservation of the fragile, ever-shifting southern tip of Kiawah Island, a slice of land many know as Capt. Sam’s Spit. We reiterate that call for a deal — and encourage leaders in our state government and conservation community to focus anew on it — particularly as the property remains in between controversial efforts to develop homes there.As The Post and Courier’s Toby Cox reported, the property is tied up in a complicated legal dispute over a 2013 Amended and Restated Deve...

For years, we have called for the conservation of the fragile, ever-shifting southern tip of Kiawah Island, a slice of land many know as Capt. Sam’s Spit. We reiterate that call for a deal — and encourage leaders in our state government and conservation community to focus anew on it — particularly as the property remains in between controversial efforts to develop homes there.

As The Post and Courier’s Toby Cox reported, the property is tied up in a complicated legal dispute over a 2013 Amended and Restated Development Agreement between the town of Kiawah Island and developer Kiawah Resort Associates that expired last month. At issue is whether the developer met contractual obligations to transfer ownership of some of the property’s highlands to the community association and to protect the remaining highlands with deed restrictions. These actions would protect the spit from development efforts, but the developer says these obligations were contingent on development, which did not occur.

Since 2008, developers have sought state permits to build 50 homes on the land, but the complexity of running a road and utility lines to the property has resulted in years-long court battles and appeals that stopped the plans. But those hoping for the property’s conservation should not count on permitting battles and environmental lawsuits alone; the land has some value, and its owners deserve to be compensated to some degree for a conservation agreement that would preclude development. Of course, there may be a wide disagreement over the dollars involved, given the property’s proximity to the high-valued real estate of Kiawah Island as well as the folly of building on land so subject to erosion and flooding.

Town officials sent the developer a letter this month asking it to fulfill the two obligations, and it’s certainly possible this could lead to yet another legal battle. That turn would be regrettable. It would be much better for both sides to focus on a conservation deal that would settle this matter once and for all.

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a precedent-setting ruling in 1992 in a case only five islands north of Kiawah (Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council), saying if government restricts all potential use of a piece of private property, that is considered a “taking” — and the property owner is owed compensation. We agree with what Amy Armstrong, executive director and general counsel at the S.C. Environmental Law Project, told Ms. Cox: “As long as the developer owns the property, there’s a threat.”

The property is valuable for conservation not only because it provides habitat for wildlife but also because it adjoins Charleston County’s Kiawah Beachwalker Park, which is so popular most summer weekends that there is a waiting list for its limited parking spaces. And that’s not surprising: Beachwalker offers access to more than a mile’s worth of beach and creekfront, around which bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and seabirds are common visitors. In short, it’s one of South Carolina’s most pristine sections of beach publicly accessible by car.

Both South Carolina and Charleston County leaders should engage on ways to strike a conservation deal here for many reasons, including the prevention of unwise attempts to harden the land for development and the preservation of wildlife habitat and high-quality public access. The time to strike that deal is now, before more dollars are wasted on legal battles or ill-considered development plans.

Click here for more opinion content from The Post and Courier.

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Opposition rises against controversial Kiawah Island Park Medical Village

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — A controversial development on Kiawah Island is treading water.Developers of Island Park Place Medical Village said the project will be a mixed-use facility, including medical, health and wellness, that will save people from making long trips to the doctor.Residents and town officials are working to change the proposal or stop it. Meanwhile, supporters believe it would be a one-stop shop for those not wanting to leave the area for medical care. Still, opponents continue to believe the proj...

CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCIV) — A controversial development on Kiawah Island is treading water.

Developers of Island Park Place Medical Village said the project will be a mixed-use facility, including medical, health and wellness, that will save people from making long trips to the doctor.

Residents and town officials are working to change the proposal or stop it. Meanwhile, supporters believe it would be a one-stop shop for those not wanting to leave the area for medical care. Still, opponents continue to believe the project is too big and commercial.

"It will destroy wetlands," Louise Bennet said. "It will destroy trees."

Read more: "James Island's Dills Bluff development plan meets resistance: From woodland to townhomes?"

These are only a few of the reasons Bennett is against the project planned just across the way from her business on Betsy Kerrison Parkway.

"It also destroys what's left of Johns Island that is peaceful and rural," Bennett said.

While developers tout the project as a one-stop medical shop, some think the 160,000-square-foot building falls short of that goal. Others said the medical care isn't needed as MUSC and Trident are planning for their projects nearby.

"Only about 60,000 square feet, 40 percent or so, is intended to be devoted to medical-related uses," said Bradley Belt, a member of Kiawah's town council. "The rest is residential, other retail restaurants... There's no requirement that it is actually devoted to medical-related facilities."

Opposition rises against controversial Kiawah Island Park Medical Village (WCIV).

Read more: "Daniel Island townhome development defers second time due to grand oak tree concerns."

Bennett claims there are more viable areas to have a complex, including the central part of the island, where Trident Hospital will be.

An attempt by developers to rezone the area from low-density residential was denied by the Charleston County Planning Commission. That has developers looking to possibly scale back the project.

Meanwhile, an ad in support of the project has appeared on Facebook, seeming to suggest Charleston County Councilman Joe Boykin is in favor of the development. Boykin said he is adamantly opposed to it.

"I am aware that social media ads that utilized my image and words from a past speech were posted on Facebook in an apparent attempt to portray my support for a proposed Medical Health and Wellness Village on lower Betsy Kerrison Boulevard," Boykin said. "It is apparent to me that this was additionally an attempt to influence my constituents to ask me to 'keep my word,' as if I supported this project when the developer knew full well I was adamantly opposed to it.

"Angry constituents contacted me because they believed I supported this project only to learn just the opposite was true. I completely concur with the recommendation of the Charleston County Zoning and Planning staff, the decision of The Charleston County Planning Commission, and the opinions of the majority of the Charleston County voters who shared their views that this Planned Development should be denied."

Read more: "Could more development be coming to Johns Island after the New Year?"

Belt is holding a town hall on Thursday, Jan. 11, to discuss "key issues" impacting Johns Island and the Sea Islands community.

To the news, the development group provided the following statement to News 4.

“Our team has agreed to defer the PWC and first reading until we conduct an additional meeting with members of the community before the next scheduled PWC at Charleston County.”

The letters concerning the development can be read below.

Kiawah Island residents criticize development approval process

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents on Kiawah Island are keeping a close eye on presented plans to fix an issue they say they had to point out in the first place. The issue is not enough parking for a development currently being built called “The Cape.”The developers recently submitted a site development revision for “Cape Point parking and emergency access,” but it&...

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - Residents on Kiawah Island are keeping a close eye on presented plans to fix an issue they say they had to point out in the first place. The issue is not enough parking for a development currently being built called “The Cape.”

The developers recently submitted a site development revision for “Cape Point parking and emergency access,” but it’s intended to address only part of the parking deficiency, as they have yet to submit revised plans for the rest of the parking issues. This follows the town and planning director telling them they must do so, only after residents discovered the original plans were approved with a significant lack of parking.

Residents fear the lack of transparency of the plans will continue.

“We’re worried as a community that the planning director will overlook once again, so the community has gotten involved, and we are watching very closely,” Kiawah property owner and land development lawyer Tim Hazel said.

The community feels like they aren’t involved enough in what gets approved and says decisions are made behind closed doors by the planning director alone, and not with the commission as a whole.

Town of Kiawah Planning Director John Taylor Jr. explained the approval process is straightforward.

“Developers will submit plans to the town, we will review those plans and issue comments and work back and forth until the developer addresses the comments and once that is addressed, we will be able to issue approval,” Taylor said.

Hazel said he’s never experienced the doors being open for developers but closed to the community.

“There’s a general sense that the mayor and council want nothing to do with discussions as to community input, the developer isn’t doing a very good job of including the community’s input on these plans so it’s very frustrating,” Hazel said.

Taylor said they have heard from the community throughout this process and have received “tons of emails.”

“The town has responded and listened in,” he said. “We’ve brought in a third-party engineer to review Beachwalker projects which I thought was a positive and a request by the planning staff to do that just to give the community comfortability in our review standards and processes.”

It was told that the town council may be considering changes to the development review process at their next meeting.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Captain Sams Spit vulnerable again as potential legal dispute brews over who controls it

Despite more than 15 years of conservation efforts to preserve Captain Sams Spit and five rulings from the S.C. Supreme Court that confirmed the spit’s importance as both a natural and public resource, the sandy piece of land still isn’t safe from development.This time, it’s a potential loophole in a decadelong agreement between the town of Kiawah Island and the developer that brings Sams Spit once again under legal scrutiny.The 2013 Amended and Restated Development Agreement between the town of Kiawah Island ...

Despite more than 15 years of conservation efforts to preserve Captain Sams Spit and five rulings from the S.C. Supreme Court that confirmed the spit’s importance as both a natural and public resource, the sandy piece of land still isn’t safe from development.

This time, it’s a potential loophole in a decadelong agreement between the town of Kiawah Island and the developer that brings Sams Spit once again under legal scrutiny.

The 2013 Amended and Restated Development Agreement between the town of Kiawah Island and developer Kiawah Resort Associates expired on Dec. 4, 2023. According to the town, the developer did not fulfill two obligations outlined in the contract. The developer disagrees.

The town, Kiawah Island Community Association, the Coastal Conservation League and the S.C. Environmental Law Project say the agreement requires the developer to:

These actions would protect the spit from development efforts.

Kiawah Resort Associates maintains that all requirements have been met and that these two obligations were contingent on development, which did not occur.

“When all the terms of this section are considered together ... the conclusion is inescapable that the entire provision contemplated that the development was to occur before the limited transfer to (the community association), yet that development was made impossible by the courts,” developer representative Jordan Phillips wrote in a letter to the community association.

The town of Kiawah Island issued a demand letter to the developer on Jan. 8, requesting the two obligations in question be fulfilled and reminding the developer that the town can prevent the sale of the spit to a third party. Town officials asked for a response from the developer by Jan. 15. None had been provided by press time, according to Erin Pomrenke, spokesperson for the town of Kiawah Island.

Amy Armstrong, executive director and general counsel at the S.C. Environmental Law Project, has been involved in cases involving Captain Sams Spit since 2008, representing the Conservation League. She said that while the developer isn’t legally required to respond to the demand letter, it would be in their best interest to do so.

“The developer needs to respond because the town is basically threatening a lawsuit against the developer for breach of (the) development agreement,” she said.

Representatives from the town and community association declined to comment at this time. The developer did not respond to requests for comment.

Rising Waters

Conservation v. money

It’s not unusual for conservation efforts like preserving Captain Sams Spit to take decades, Armstrong said. And the reason isn’t a mystery.

“It’s about money,” she said.

Captain Sams Spit is a teardrop-shaped piece of land on the southern tip of Kiawah Island located between the Kiawah River and Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of only three undeveloped, publicly accessible barrier island beaches in the state, and one of the last wild places on the South Carolina coast.

And it’s valuable.

“When there’s a development project like Captain Sams Spit, it would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to developers,” Armstrong said. “They’re not going to go away easily when they’ve got so much hanging out on the line.”

Armstrong added there’s a lot on the line for the public, too.

“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” she said.

Coastal Conservation League program director Riley Egger emphasized the point.

“Captain Sams Spit is extremely valuable for the people of South Carolina and conservation,” Egger said. “We need to see it permanently protected and permanently conserved.”

From 2008 to 2022, developers attempted to secure permits needed to build 50 luxury homes on Captain Sams Spit and infrastructure such as roads, utility lines and walls to protect the area from flooding and erosion — the spit is constantly transformed by wind and tides and is vulnerable to storms.

Here’s your guide to what Kiawah and Seabrook islands have to offer

Just 25 miles from downtown Charleston, Kiawah and Seabrook islands are the destinations for anyone looking to escape the bustle of the city.These islands offer so much more than beautiful beaches. They have sports, spas, top restaurants and amazing shopping.We’ve compiled a guide for tourists and locals drawn to the islands’ natural beauty. Whether you like fine dining or a relaxed day on the golf course or the beach, we have a guide for you.ExploreThe two barrier islands each offer world-class golf...

Just 25 miles from downtown Charleston, Kiawah and Seabrook islands are the destinations for anyone looking to escape the bustle of the city.

These islands offer so much more than beautiful beaches. They have sports, spas, top restaurants and amazing shopping.

We’ve compiled a guide for tourists and locals drawn to the islands’ natural beauty. Whether you like fine dining or a relaxed day on the golf course or the beach, we have a guide for you.

Explore

The two barrier islands each offer world-class golf courses that have been featured in major sporting events. Anyone looking to live out their professional golf fantasy can find a home at Kiawah Island Golf Resort’s Ocean Course. The resort has twice hosted the PGA Golf Championship, in 2012 and in 2021.

The resort renovated all of its courses in preparation for the 2021 tournament which brought thousands of fans to the island.

Those looking for a golf membership should also consider the Seabrook Island Club. The club’s two courses, Ocean Winds and Crooked Oaks, are open to members, group outings and events.

The two islands aren’t just for golfers; they also feature world-class beaches. Kiawah alone has 10 miles of beaches. The Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission operates Beachwalker County Park, the only beach on the island open to the public.

Seabrook’s Pelican and North beaches also offer views of the sunset and sunrise, although they are not open to the public. The rest of Kiawah’s beaches are privately owned, so those looking for a longer stay should consider all-access options.

The islands are also a great place to explore Lowcountry wildlife. Those looking to get up close to dolphins should visit the northernmost tip of North Beach during low tide at Seabrook or Captain Sam’s Inlet on Kiawah. Bottlenose dolphins are known to strand-feed there — a technique the dolphins used to trap fish and drive them onto sandbars and shorelines.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Inspired by his life’s work and to celebrate his legacy, this week’s topic is justice.

The winner is Robert Peterson with the photo of the Martin Luther King Jr. statue in Washington, D.C. The honorable mentions are Ken Schaub with a snapshot of the former federal prison known as Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay, and Randy Cochran with an image of a quote at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas.

Next week’s topic is cold, as we deal with our first serious cold snap of the winter.

The rules: Send your best photo to yourphotos@postandcourier.com by noon Thursday. Include your name, town and where the photo was taken. Add your name and the topic to the file. If you want your photo to be eligible to run in the newspaper, it must be at least 1,500 pixels, not have a commercial watermark and not have been published in another publication.

On Fridays, we first announce the editors’ pick of the week at postandcourier.com/yourphotos and declare a topic for the next week. On Saturdays, we publish an online gallery.

On Sunday, the photo pick of the week will appear in this section, Life.

All photos submitted will be considered for publication in The Post and Courier’s yearly magazine, My Charleston. Some images may be selected for other editorial or noncommercial use.

We reserve the right to not publish any photo for any reason.

Disclaimer:

This website publishes news articles that contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The non-commercial use of these news articles for the purposes of local news reporting constitutes "Fair Use" of the copyrighted materials as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
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