In South Carolina, a wrongful death claim must be brought by the Decedent’s Estate. In this regard, a Personal Representative acts on behalf of the Estate. Therefore, to bring a wrongful death claim, the Estate must be created and opened with the Probate Court, and the Court must appoint the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative hires the lawyer on behalf of the Estate to bring the legal action.
Opening an Estate is not often difficult, and the Probate Court is generally very helpful in providing information and the necessary forms. The Personal Representative is normally identified in the Will, and if there is no Will, then usually the spouse or other close family member can serve as Personal Representative subject to some requirements. Many people open an Estate without the assistance of a lawyer. Nonetheless, in many circumstances, this office is happy to assist the family with the Estate process so that the wrongful death claim can smoothly proceed.