Frequently Asked Questions
What is Probate?
Probate specifically means to prove the validity of a will. Probate is also the general term for the administration of a decedent’s estate.
How do I know if I need to go to Probate Court?
If a person dies owning any assets that need to be transferred or administered, you should contact Probate Court.
What if the deceased did not have a Will?
When someone dies without a valid will, state law determines who inherits from the estate and who can be appointed as personal representative of the estate informally.
Is Pickens County the proper county to handle an estate?
If the deceased was a resident of Pickens County, was a non-resident who owned property in Pickens County, or had a right to take legal action in Pickens County, the estate will likely be administered in Pickens County Probate Court.
How does a personal representative get appointed to handle an estate?
If you do not engage the services of an attorney, the Probate Court will provide you initial paperwork to complete, along with an explanation of the documents. If you have an attorney, he or she will assist you with the appropriate filings.
Do I need an attorney to probate an estate?
You may engage an attorney to probate an estate informally, or you may choose to proceed with completing the initial documents yourself, followed by a meeting with the judge to complete your appointment process. For formal probate matters, the services of an attorney are strongly encouraged. Formal probate involves the filing of a summons and petition, payment of a filing fee, and legal service of process upon all interested parties. A hearing would ultimately be scheduled for the proper presentation of evidence.
What is an involuntary commitment?
If you have direct knowledge of a person who suffers from mental illness or chemical dependence from drugs or alcohol and that person is endangering himself or herself or others and is unwilling to seek help, that person may need to be involuntarily committed for possible treatment.
What if it is an emergency?
If the need arises for an emergency commitment during normal business hours, please contact the mental health center at 337 W. Main Street in Easley. Their phone number is (864) 878-6830. DO NOT CONTACT PROBATE COURT FIRST – YOU MUST GO TO THE MENTAL HEALTH CENTER BEFORE PROBATE COURT IS ABLE TO ASSIST YOU. If the person in need is screened by the mental health center and needs to be examined but refuses to go voluntarily, you will bring the documents issued by the mental health center to Probate Court to obtain an Order of Detention. This Order allows law enforcement to pick up the person and transport him or her to the emergency room for examination. Only a medical doctor can determine whether or not involuntary commitment is necessary.
What if the emergency occurs in the evening or on the weekend or a holiday?
If the need arises for emergency commitment outside of normal business hours, you should still call the mental health center at (864) 878-6830. A person will answer their crisis line and advise you of the procedure to assist your situation. The probate judge will be available if needed 24/7. If the emergency requires more immediate assistance you may also call your local law enforcement agency.