Although Florida is famous for being the ideal destination for retirees, quite a few older adults also settle in South Carolina to enjoy their golden years. With beautiful weather, proximity to the beautiful Atlantic Ocean and plenty of tax benefits for retirees, South Carolina has a lot to offer.

However, moving to a different state can mean that someone doesn’t really know their rights or obligations when it comes to estate planning and probate. Understanding when South Carolina requires that an estate pass through probate court can help adults make better estate planning decisions.

Permanent residence is part of probate requirements

Just having a vacation home in South Carolina or passing away while in South Carolina won’t be adequate grounds to apply South Carolina probate law to your estate. Instead, South Carolina must be the state where you have your primary residence in order for your estate to pass through probate here.

Some people who come down to South Carolina in the winter, also known as snowbirds, choose to make South Carolina their official residence. Those who don’t may have to apply the probate laws from their other state of residence.

The value and kind of assets you have determine if you go through probate

When people create complex estate plans, they often do so with the goal of avoiding probate court. While that is possible in some states, it is not particularly easy to do under South Carolina probate law. If you own any real estate, regardless of whether it’s a home or an unimproved parcel of land, the state will require that it pass through probate regardless of value. Even a mobile home is enough to necessitate probate for a small estate.

Generally speaking, smaller estates can potentially avoid probate court if they don’t include real estate. If the total value of the assets in the estate, including any life insurance policies, is under $25,000, the estate could theoretically bypass the probate process. For estates worth over $25,000, probate is typically necessary. The executor or administrator for the estate will have 30 days to present the estate plan or last will to the probate court for review, after which administration will begin.

Knowing which state’s laws apply can help you plan better to reduce the stress involved in the planning and administration of your estate.