South Carolina also has Probate Courts as part of its unified justice system. These are limited jurisdiction courts that have exclusive jurisdiction over matters of probate and mental health.
Probate Court judges are elected, and they serve four-year terms. Each county has one Probate judge. There are forty-six Probate judges in South Carolina. The South Carolina Judicial Branch website lists each Probate judge in three ways: alphabetical, by county and in a roster. Each name links to a complete profile with an image of the judge.
The types of cases that are handled by Probate Courts are marriage licenses, name changes, minor settlements of less than $25,000, estates of deceased persons, wills, conservatorships, exclusive jurisdiction over trusts and guardianships of minors. They also resolve cases of incompetent adults and involuntary commitments to mental institutions. These courts also have concurrent jurisdiction with Circuit Courts when cases involve powers of attorney.
Each county also has a County Clerk that serves the court system and supports South Carolina Probate Courts among others. They are responsible for “docket management, receipt of fees, fines and costs, maintenance of all court records, and submission of reports to a variety of state and federal agencies.” Additionally, they are “responsible for both criminal and civil matters, and some of these duties include receipt of criminal warrants and transmission to the solicitor, receipt of bail, compilation of trial lists, jury management and staffing the courtroom while the court is in session. The Clerk of Court also serves as the Register of Deeds, formerly called Register of Mesne Conveyances, in some counties.”
Many Probate cases are self-represented, and the South Carolina Judicial Branch website assists those individuals with forms on their website for filing, e-filing options for some types of cases and legal assistance in the form of guides, brochures, connections with attorneys and background information on the courts. They also provide contact information for Court Clerks and judges.