What Is Included in an Estate When Someone Dies?

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An estate is a very broadly defined term. It includes practically everything that a person owns. This is important for purposes of both probate and estate taxes. For probate, the value of the estate will determine the procedure that is used. For estate taxes, the estate may be taxed if the estate is valued above a certain amount.

What Is Included in an Estate in South Carolina?

At some point during probate, the personal representative must perform an inventory and appraisement of the estate. This can be challenging when the deceased had many assets and possessions. The estate can include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles, boats, etc.
  • Furnishings in a home
  • All personal property

Even things such as collections are included in the assets. However, there are certain assets that are not included in an estate. If there is an account with a named beneficiary, this is distributed outside of the probate and estate process. This can include things such as life insurance and retirement accounts. In addition, assets in a trust, while they are part of an estate, are not included in the probate process (also referred to as estate administration). Estate planning can help reduce the taxable value of an estate and save the beneficiaries some money.  Estate planning can also help make the administration of the estate more efficient.

Personal representatives may have questions about what is included in the definition when they are performing their duties. An attorney can help with this process and answer any questions that the representative may have. The personal representative is allowed and encouraged to get legal help during probate.

Contact Our Columbia Estate Planning Lawyers

When you are dealing with a large or complex estate, you will need advance planning to ensure a smooth transfer of assets. Call Parker Law at (803) 784-4203 or contact us online to discuss your estate planning needs and to learn how we can help.


When do you need to pay estate tax?

There is an exemption for each spouse. Amounts above that are subject to the estate tax.

Will probate involve litigation?

It depends. Usually no, but estate planning will reduce the chances of a lawsuit.

What happens if I pass away without a will?

The court will appoint a personal representative and will apply the laws of intestacy to divide your assets.

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