Day 6: The Role of the Petitioner in the Petition for Determination of Heirs Process


In the intricate web of estate proceedings, the Petitioner plays a pivotal role. When it comes to the petition for determination of heirs in South Carolina, their responsibilities are both unique and crucial. Let’s delve into the role of the Personal Representative in this process.

1. Who is a Petitioner?

A Petitioner is a party with some interest in the decedent’s estate, usually an heir by law or potentially a devisee by will, who petitions the court for the order determining heirs when the estate is beyond ten years and cannot be formally probated and no personal representative can be appointed.

2. Initiating the Petition

  • Filing the Petition: In many cases, the Petitioner is the one who initiates the petition for determination of heirs, especially if there’s uncertainty about the rightful heirs or if the estate hasn’t been probated within the stipulated 10-year period.
  • Gathering Documentation: The Petitioner is responsible for collecting all necessary documents, such as death certificates, any existing wills, and evidence of relationships to the decedent.

3. Representing the Estate’s Interests

  • Acting as a Neutral Party: The Petitioner acts in the best interest of the estate, ensuring that assets are protected and debts are settled. They must act impartially, balancing the interests of heirs, creditors, and other stakeholders.
  • Managing Estate Assets: Until the determination of heirs is finalized, the Petitioner manages the estate’s assets, ensuring they are preserved and not wasted.

4. Communicating with Stakeholders

  • Liaising with Heirs: The Petitioner communicates with potential heirs, informing them of the process, what’s expected of them, and any developments in the case.
  • Liaising with non-probate parties with interest: If there are accounts that should have been transferred to heirs, the accountholders must be kept informed and prepared to transfer assets (usually stocks or money) upon issuance of a Court order determining heirs.

5. Assisting in Resolving Disputes

  • Mediating Conflicts: If disputes arise among potential heirs or between heirs and non-probate parties with interest, the Petitioner can play a mediating role, aiming for an amicable resolution.
  • Seeking Legal Counsel: While the Petitioner is not a legal expert, they can (and often should) consult with legal professionals, like those at The Bill Connor Law Firm, to navigate complex situations or disputes.

6. Implementing the Court’s Decision

Once the court makes a decision on the determination of heirs, the Petioner is responsible for implementing that decision. This includes:

  • Titling Assets: Transferring titles of assets, particularly real property to the recognized heirs.
  • Distributing Remaining Assets: The Petitioner oversees the distribution of assets from non-probate interested parties to heirs.


The role of the Petitioner in the petition for determination of heirs process is multifaceted and vital. They act as the linchpin, ensuring that interests are protected, stakeholders are informed, and the court’s decisions are implemented. Their role underscores the importance of having a knowledgeable and diligent individual or entity in this position, especially in complex estate matters.

Note: This article provides a general overview and might not cover all nuances of the Petitioner’s role. Always consult with a legal professional when dealing with estate matters.