The Probate Court assists the citizens of Chesterfield County in probating estates, resolving disputes in estates and trusts, handling involuntary commitments for alcohol/drug abuse and/or mental illness, obtaining marriage licenses, appointing and supervising guardians and conservators, and approving minor and wrongful death settlements.
Chesterfield County Probate Court is committed to providing you with excellent customer service. We will be happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about the services of this office or the procedures you must follow. Please be advised, however, that state law prohibits our staff from giving legal advice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is Probate?
A. Probate means to examine proof of whether the decedent left a valid will. Informal Probate admits the will as valid without a hearing. Formal Probate requires a hearing to confirm the validity of the will.
Q. What are the types of Probate?
A. The types of probate are:
- Testate (with will)
- Intestate (without will)
- Small Estate Affidavit—personal property only valued at less than $25,000
- Will Filed Only—no assets to probate
Q. How do I know if I need to go to Probate Court?
A. If a person dies owning any assets that need to be administered, you will need to contact Probate Court. Once you have received the death certificate, you should call the Probate Court for an appointment.
Q. How does a Personal Representative get appointed?
A. Appointment of a Personal Representative is granted informally to a person who has priority under South Carolina law. Usually, the Personal Representative is named in the will by the deceased. However, priority can result through the will, by law, by renunciation, or by termination. Any person with priority may nominate another. A person without priority may only be appointed through formal proceedings.
Q. What are the duties of a Personal Representative?
A. The Personal Representative is responsible for collecting, protecting and administering the estate. This includes giving notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory of the estate, making sure assets are secure, paying allowed claims, and making sure the proper people get what they are entitled to receive.
Q. Do I need an attorney to probate?
A. For a formal probate or appointment, the services of an attorney are recommended. For an informal appointment or probate proceeding in a relatively simple estate, an attorney is usually not necessary. However, if the will is contested or if there is a dispute, seeking the services of an attorney is strongly advised. Also, you will need an attorney to prepare a Deed of Distribution of real estate.
Q. How do I apply for a marriage license?
A. Both parties must appear together to apply for a marriage license. The applicants must present a driver's license or photo ID and Social Security Card. Applicants under the age of 18 must have a certified birth certificate that must be left with the Probate Court permanently and parental consent. The minimum age to obtain a license is 16. There is a twenty-four (24) hour waiting period in South Carolina from the time you apply for the marriage license until the time the license can be issued. The fee for the marriage license is $50 for SC residents and $75 for nonresidents. This must be paid before the license can be processed.
Q. How do I obtain a certified copy of my marriage license?
A. You can either obtain a copy by coming in the office or mailing the request. You must supply the persons' names and the date of marriage. The cost is $10 per copy (cash, local check or money order). If you are mailing a request, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope along with a money order for $10 (payable to Chesterfield County Probate Court).
Q. What is the procedure for having someone involuntarily committed?
A. If you have personal knowledge of a person who suffers from mental illness or chemical dependence who is a danger to himself or others and is unwilling to get help, you should contact the Tri-County Community Mental Health Center in Chesterfield. Their address is 207 Commerce Avenue, Chesterfield, SC. and the phone number is 843-623-2229. Please, do not come to Probate Court first.The Probate Court can only assist after the mental health center has determined that the person is in need of hospitalization. If they are unwilling to be examined , a Detention Order will be necessary. You will bring the necessary documents from the mental health center to Probate Court, at which time we will issue the Detention Order to be taken to the Sheriff’s Office.
Q. How do I become a conservator or guardian?
A. A conservator is a court appointed individual or entity that handles the management of financial affairs or property. A guardian is a court appointed individual that handles the personal and custodial matters for an incapacitated adult. For both of these procedures you will need to contact an attorney before coming to Probate Court.