The Probate Court assists the citizens of Charleston County in probating estates, resolving disputes in estates and trusts, handling involuntary commitments for alcohol/drug abuse and/or mental illness, obtaining marriage licenses, appointing and supervising guardians and conservators, and approving minor and wrongful death settlements. Probate Court includes the Estate, Commitment and Marriage Divisions. The Probate Judge is elected countywide and serves a four-year term.
The mission of the Charleston County Probate Court, provided the sensitive nature of the matters we handle, is to deliver essential services that protect and uphold the best interest of the individuals whose lives we impact. We strive to serve the citizens of our community with compassion, integrity, dedication, professionalism, and efficiency.
The Probate Court has jurisdiction over Marriage Licenses, Estates of Deceased Persons, Guardianships and Conservatorships of Incapacitated Persons, Settlements for Minors and Wrongful Deaths, and Involuntary Commitments of Mentally Ill and/or Chemically Dependent Persons. To address community issues, the Charleston County Probate Court has added a Mental Health Court and Adult and Juvenile Drug Court Programs.
Commitment, Guardianship/Conservatorship & Estate Divisions
Mon. - Fri. 8:30am - 5pm
Marriage License Division
Mon. - Fri. 8:30am - 4:30pm
The forerunner to the Probate Court was the Court of the Ordinary. The founding of the Colony in 1670 led to the creation of the original Probate Court. In the court's early days, the Royal Governors or their secretaries were the only Ordinaries in the province. Beginning in 1778, the S.C. Commons House of Assembly was to appoint Ordinaries for each of the province's seven court districts; however, due to the presence of British forces in South Carolina, no District Ordinaries were appointed until 1782. When the last Royal Governor fled after the adoption of the Federal Constitution on June 21, 1788, the General Assembly appointed an Ordinary to fulfill the duties of the office in Charleston District.
In 1787, duties of the District Ordinaries were transferred to county courts; but because Charleston District had no county court, a 1789 law directed the Ordinary to continue. County courts were abolished in 1799. Within the year, the S.C. General Assembly created 24 circuit court districts whose Ordinaries they appointed until 1815 when they became elected.
The S.C. Constitution of 1868 replaced the Court of the Ordinary with the Probate Court. Changes to the S.C. Constitution in 1895 required the Probate Court to be dependent on the General Assembly for funding and legal procedures. This was so in all counties except Charleston where it remained a constitutional court until 1962.
Unlike other judges in South Carolina, the probate judge is selected by popular election to a four-year term.
Accountings - Reports that contain the annual and final fiscal reports showing receipts and disbursements with date and purpose.
Estate Papers - The original probate papers such as wills, inventories, letters, accountings and related papers.
Probate - The legal process of wrapping up a person's affairs, paying their bills and distributing their assets.
Testator - A person who has made a legally valid will before death.
Will Books - Recorded transcripts of the original probate wills that give information about proving the will and qualifying the personal representative.
City of Charleston
City of Folly Beach
City of North Charleston
City of Isle of Palms
Town of Awendaw
Town of Hollywood
Town of James Island
Town of Kiawah Island
Town of Lincolnville
Town of McClellanville
Town of Meggett
Town of Mount Pleasant
Town of Ravenel
Town of Rockville
Town of Seabrook Island
Town of Sullivan's Island
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