The time and cost of court involvement can often be avoided by establishing joint bank accounts, payable on death accounts, transfer on death brokerage accounts, life estate deeds, or joint deeds with the right of survivorship.
While all of these effectively avoid probate, they may not adequately protect the client.
However, instead of the Trustee being subject to probate court supervision, such as is the case with an Executor of an estate, the Trustee is able to complete the administration process in an expedited matter.
This does not mean that the Trustee can immediately distribute assets to the trust beneficiaries, but the living trust does offer certain advantages over a probate estate settlement.
The administration of a living trust after the decedent's death first results in lesser costs associated with estate settlement; secondly, it provides immediate access to the decedent's assets upon death, unlike a probate which could take weeks to gain access; thirdly, it is a private document meaning that is not filed in the court or anywhere else, thus both the estate plan as well as the nature and amount of the decedent's assets are private.
A formal or informal action is required when the decedent owns individually-held property without a beneficiary designation that exceeds a certain dollar amount, currently ,000.00 or real estate.The probate process is a public proceeding meaning both the contents of the estate plan and the assets are a matter of public record.It can be more costly and time-consuming than other methods of settlement.(For estates below that amount without real property, a simplified estate administration process can be completed).If all of the decedent's assets are all non-probate, meaning that he or she has a fully-funded revocable trust (commonly referred to as a "living trust"); assets that are held as joint with the right of survivorship; or assets that have a beneficiary designated, then no South Carolina probate administration is required.Of course, family and beneficiary issues can impact the time necessary to settle an estate.