Probate Courts

The Probate Court is governed by the South Carolina Probate Code, a set of statutes effective since 1987, and updated annually by acts of the South Carolina General Assembly. Each of the forty-six counties in South Carolina has a Probate Court and publicly-elected Probate Judge. The South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure used in South Carolina Circuit Courts apply to Probate Court litigation proceedings as well, unless specific rules to the contrary are provided in the Probate Code. Issues of proper venue for Probate Court litigation—that is, the county in which the litigation would take place—often is determined by the date of death county of residence of the particular decedent whose estate is at issue, the respective residences of the parties involved in the dispute, or the location of real property involved.

Probate Court litigation encompasses a variety of matters, including, but not limited to interpretation of a decedent’s will, determination of the applicable will when there are multiple competing wills, determination of the heirs of a decedent, determination of the assets within an estate, determination of the appropriate distribution of estate assets, determination of when estate assets can be sold, and determination of the validity of creditors claims against an estate. Probate Court litigation can also include disputes involving the protection of minors and incapacitated persons through the creation of conservatorships, guardianships, or trusts, when interested parties disagree. Contested matters in Probate Court can be ordered by the Probate Judge to be mediated through the Alternative Dispute Resolution process, or the parties can voluntarily submit their dispute to that process in the hope of reaching a mutually agreeable resolution. Many Probate Court disputes are successfully settled through mediation because it allows families and interested individuals embroiled in a Probate Court dispute to creatively deal with assets and interests, and agree to a compromise resolution in a manner that might not be available to the Judge hearing the dispute without the consent of all of the parties.

The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over some legal issues and concurrent jurisdiction with Circuit Court over others, with that jurisdiction being set forth by statute. Depending upon whether jurisdiction is exclusive or concurrent with another court, matters originally brought in the Probate Court can sometimes be removed to the Circuit Court, depending upon the particular facts and issues involve in the matter. Matters determined by litigation in Probate Court can be appealed under certain circumstances through a civil appeals process.

Litigation in the Probate Court, within or on behalf of an estate, guardianship, conservatorship, or trust, is sometimes necessary to protect the interests of heirs, beneficiaries, and fiduciaries. Planning ahead with appropriate and updated Estate Planning and Advanced Directives can help to avoid such litigation; but clients who find themselves with disputes within the jurisdiction of the Probate Court will find the attorneys at the Davis Frawley Law Firm prepared to advocate for their particular situation. The Davis Frawley Law Firm is experienced in representing Personal Representatives, heirs, trustees, beneficiaries, and other interested parties in Probate Litigation; and attorneys at the Davis Frawley Law Firm are experienced in considering the options available to clients who find themselves engaged in Probate Court Litigation, in advising those clients accordingly, and in representing the interests of those clients through mediation and settlement, if possible, through trial if necessary, and, if the matter extends beyond trial, through appeal. If you find yourself in need of representation in a Probate Court dispute, or simply have a question relating to one, please call or e-mail us for a consultation.

Probate Courts Resources

Probate Courts Attorneys

Patrick J. Frawley


(Ph) (803) 359-2512

(Fa) (803) 359-7478

Jeff M. Anderson


(Ph) (803) 359-2512

(Fa) (803) 359-7478

John J. McCauley


(Ph) (803) 359-2512

(Fa) (803) 359-7478

Carey M. Ayer


(Ph) (803) 359-2512

(Fa) (803) 359-7478

Ryan M. Wingard


(Ph) (803) 359-2512

(Fa) (803) 359-7478

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