Last Will & Testament Laws in South Carolina

By Beverly Bird

In South Carolina, wills must be in a printed format and signed by the testator, the person making the will, who must also be over 18 years of age and have the mental capacity to know what he is doing. Those younger than 18 may also make a will if they are married or otherwise emancipated from their parents by an order from family court.

Witnesses

The number of witnesses to a will in South Carolina depends on the nature of the will. If the testator cannot sign her own name, then she can direct someone else to do it for her in the presence of two additional witnesses. If the testator can sign her own name, then only two witnesses are required. If one of the witnesses is a beneficiary, however, then an additional witness is necessary. Alternatively, if the beneficiary witness is a close relative, he can waive his right to his inheritance and accept instead anything he would have received if the deceased had passed away without a will.

Formats

South Carolina accepts self-proved wills. A self-proved will is one that includes a notarized statement signed by the testator and his witnesses, and attests to the validity of the will. This eliminates some steps of having the will admitted to probate later. Neither oral or handwritten wills are valid in South Carolina. The state makes no special provisions for members of the military to transfer property via an oral, or nuncupative, bequest during times of active duty. Some holographic, or handwritten, wills are accepted, however, if made in another state that accepts them.

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Disinheritance

You can disinherit almost anyone in South Carolina by stating precisely in your will that this is your intention. The exception is your spouse. Surviving spouses are entitled by law to one-third of the testator’s estate after payment of debts and costs of probate. If you leave your spouse any less than this, he can elect to take the one-third portion instead up to eight months after your death or six months after your will enters probate, whichever occurs later.

Effect of Divorce

A divorce -- though not necessarily a legal separation from your spouse -- nullifies any bequests made to her in a will made prior to the divorce. An appointment as executor is also revoked. However, if you remarry that person, those portions of your will become reinstated and your spouse is once again entitled to the one-third share of your estate if your bequest to her is any less than that.

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CT Laws on Wills & Estates

References

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California Laws Regarding Wills

California law requires that a testator, or the person making a will, be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. The statutes regarding mental competency to make a will are more extensive than those in most states. Under California Probate Code Section 6100, the testator must remember and understand his relationship with his beneficiaries and his bequests to him. He cannot suffer from any mental disorder resulting in delusions or hallucinations if his will contains unexpected bequests, and there are other criteria, as well.

What Effect Does a Divorce Have on a Will in Georgia?

Georgia is the only state, as of 2010, to allow a testator, or the person making a will, to disinherit a spouse. This makes the state one of the safest places to get a divorce from the perspective of planning your estate. There is no window of time when a spouse can be granted part of your estate if you die while you are separated or your divorce is in progress but before it is final.

Illinois Last Will & Testament Requirements

Making a will is essential if you want to ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes after you die. In Illinois, the Probate Act of 1975 -- contained in Chapter 755 of the Illinois Statute -- sets out the state’s legal requirements for a last will and testament. Section 4-1 provides that any individual may make a will, provided he is 18 years or over and of sound mind and memory.

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