Day 7: FAQ – Answering Common Questions about Petition for Determination of Heirs


The process of filing a petition for determination of heirs in South Carolina can be intricate and, for many, unfamiliar territory. As such, numerous questions arise. In today’s installment, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about this important legal procedure.

1. What is a Petition for Determination of Heirs?

A petition for determination of heirs is a legal process initiated when an estate hasn’t been probated within the stipulated 10-year period in South Carolina. It seeks to legally recognize and determine the rightful heirs of a deceased individual, allowing for the titling of assets without Distribution.

2. Why would someone need to file this petition?

If an estate hasn’t undergone the probate process within 10 years of the decedent’s death, traditional probate becomes unavailable. In such cases, to gain legal recognition and title assets, heirs, or representatives of the estate would need to file this petition.

3. Who can file the petition?

Typically, an heir or the designated Personal Representative (if will is available) of the deceased’s estate can initiate the petition. However, other parties with a legitimate interest in the estate may also be eligible to file under certain circumstances.

4. How long does the process take?

The duration varies based on the complexity of the estate, the availability of necessary documentation, potential disputes among heirs or creditors, and the court’s caseload. Generally, it can take several weeks to months, but contested cases might extend the timeline further.

5. What happens if there are disputes among potential heirs?

If disagreements arise, the court may schedule hearings to address and resolve these disputes. Legal counsel can represent parties during these hearings, and the court will make a final decision based on presented evidence and testimonies.

6. Can creditors claim against the estate during this process?

Yes, creditors can file claims against the estate. The Personal Representative is responsible for notifying known creditors and settling valid claims using the estate’s assets.

7. What if the deceased left a will?

If the estate wasn’t probated within 10 years, the will cannot be probated and the petition for determination of heirs is necessary for titling assets by the laws of intestacy at the time of the death. The will can help provide some authority for the Petitioner if the Petitioner is not an heir, but heirs take precedence.

8. What’s the difference between probate and determination of heirs?

Probate is the legal process of settling an estate, paying debts, and distributing assets based on a will or state law. Determination of heirs is a specific process to legally recognize heirs and title assets when traditional probate isn’t an option due to the 10-year rule.

9. Can the process be expedited?

While the court process follows a set timeline, ensuring all documentation is in order and seeking legal counsel can help streamline the procedure and potentially avoid unnecessary delays.

10. Where can I seek legal assistance for this process?

Law firms specializing in estate and probate matters, like The Bill Connor Law Firm, can provide

guidance, representation, and expertise throughout the petition process.


The petition for determination of heirs is a vital legal avenue for many families and individuals in South Carolina. While the process might seem daunting, understanding its nuances and seeking professional guidance can make the journey smoother and more comprehensible.

Note: This FAQ provides general answers and might not cover all specific scenarios or nuances. Always consult with a legal professional for detailed guidance on individual cases.