South Carolina Estate Administration: What Is Exempt Property?


Exempt property provides a surviving spouse (or if there is no surviving spouse, surviving minor children), a way to protect a certain amount of probate property from estate creditors. Exempt property is defined by S.C. Code Section 62-2-401 as household furniture, automobiles, furnishings, appliances, and personal effects. The amount of exempt property that may be protected under the statute is currently $25,000.00. If there are not enough exempt assets to reach $25,000.00, other probate assets can be utilized to reach $25,000.00. Exempt property takes priority over all other claims other than funeral expenses and costs of administration (including attorney’s fees).

To make a claim for exempt property, you must file a claim form (Form 435ES) with the Probate Court and Personal Representative, if any, within eight (8) months from the date of death or six (6) months from the probate of the decedent’s Last Will.

The exempt property provision is actually only useful as against estate creditors. The amount of exempt property claimed must be subtracted from the intestate or testate share given to the surviving spouse (or minor children). If the surviving spouse has received no testate share, then filing a Petition for Elective Share should also be considered.

Legal representation by The Miller Law Firm, PA can help you with this complex area of law. A claim for exempt property or elective share may be just what you need. But act fast because there are filing deadlines that may potentially need to be complied with.