Abbeville County Probate Court
Charles M. Sumner, Judge of Probate
Abbeville County Adm. Complex
903 W. Greenwood St., Suite 2300
Abbeville, SC 29620
Phone: (864) 366-5312, ext. 62
Fax: (864) 366-4023
Hours: 8:30AM – 5:00PM, Monday – Friday
About The Probate Court
The Probate Court assists the citizens of Abbeville 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.
Abbeville County Probate Court has contact with approximately 1,000 families annually. As you should expect, each case is different, which makes it difficult to advise families until the court has all the information. As individual circumstances differ, probate requirements will vary.
Probate Court issues approximately 200 marriage licenses annually, Mental Health Division handles 100 plus cases per year, and the Estate division opens over 200 estates per year. As a busy office, we seek to be sensitive and understanding as we serve Abbeville County.
Due to the high number of estates being opened per year, we require that estates be opened by appointment only. An appointment can be made by calling us at 366-5312, ext. 62.
The 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 or writing wills.
Abbeville was formerly known as Granville District, later to become known as the Old Ninety-Six District and still later it became Abbeville County. Estate records date back to the 1770’s and Marriage Licenses date back to 1911.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How do I apply for a marriage license?
A. Here are the requirements for a marriage license in Abbeville County:
- Both parties must appear in person to file the application. The marriage license fee in Abbeville
County is $40.00.
- Both applicants must present 1) a driver’s license or photo ID and 2) Social Security card.
- Applicants under the age of 21 must also present a certified birth certificate.
- Applicants under the age of 18 must have parental consent. The minimum age to obtain a license is 16.
- There is a 24-hour waiting period before the marriage license can be issued.
- The fee for a certified copy is $5.00.
Q. What are the types of probate?
A. There are different types of probate:
- Intestate (no will)
- Small Estate Affidavit — personal property valued at less than $25,000 (no real estate)
- Will Filed Only — no assets to probate
Q. What does it mean to probate a will?
A. Probate means the will is admitted as valid under South Carolina law. Informal probate admits the will as valid. Formal probate requires a hearing to confirm the validity of the will or the appointment of a personal representative when several have the same priority.
Q. What if the deceased did not have a will?
A. When someone dies without a will, his or her estate is called “intestate.” For intestate estates, State law spells out who inherits. If someone dies without a will and they are survived by a spouse and children, the spouse receives 50% and the children share the other 50% of the estate. If the decedent had children and his spouse was predeceased, the children would share the entire estate equally. If there were no children or surviving spouse, please contact the court regarding the order of priority.
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 the 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 during probate period, paying required claims and costs, and making sure the proper people get what they are entitled to receive.
Q. Do I need an attorney to probate a will?
A. For 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 there is the possibility of someone contesting the will or if there is family discord or disagreement, seeking the services of an attorney is strongly advised. Also, an attorney is used to do a Deed of Distribution of real estate.
Q. What is the procedure for mental health and drug/alcohol commitments?
A. The petitions for commitment of allegedly mentally ill or chemically dependent individuals are initiated through the Abbeville Mental Health Clinic located at 101 Commercial Drive, Abbeville, SC. ( Phone 459-9671) The completion of the Petition for Emergency Commitment empowers the probate court to issue an Order of Detention for the individual in question to be evaluated at the closing of an estate.
Q. How can I get copies of old estate records?
A. If you wish for a copy of a particular estate file, send our office a written request naming the decedent and the approximate date of death. You will receive a cost estimate in reply to your query if you enclose a letter-sized self addressed envelope. The Court charges $.50 cents per page or side for copies, $1.50 handling fee per pack plus postage, and a $5.00 research fee for all requests.