Probate CourtProbate Court

Probate Court has original jurisdiction over actions concerning the issuance of marriage licenses, the estate of a deceased person, the will of an individual, the estate of a minor or incapacitated person, trusts, and involuntary commitments.


COVID-19 Update: The Probate Court is open to the public, but will continue to follow safety guidelines of SC DHEC and the CDC. Masks are required and everyone is asked to bring their own mask and wear it prior to entering the building. If you do not have a mask, one will be provided to you. Individuals are encouraged to conduct business by appointment, email, phone, mail or drop box when possible as occupancy limits and physical distancing guidelines are in place. Anyone planning to conduct business in person should be prepared to check in at the entrance of the facility and may be asked to wait outside depending on the capacity of the office.

For information concerning marriage licenses, please call (843) 915- 8371 or (843) 915-8375. All other inquiries, please call (843) 915-5370.

Thank you for your patience.


Probate Court has original jurisdiction over actions concerning the issuance of marriage licenses, the estate of a deceased person, the will of an individual, the estate of a minor or incapacitated person, trusts, and involuntary commitments. Most probate matters are handled without a jury trial, but Probate Court does have the authority to conduct a jury trial in certain situations.

The objective of Probate Court is to be more responsive to the people we serve. It is crucial to put a face on the Court and to convey a sense of responsibility, respect and compassion towards the people this office serves.

Office Hours

If you need to visit:
  • Estate Division - please come to office no later than 4:00 p.m. to allow proper time and assistance to open an estate.
  • Guardian/Conservator Division - please arrive at office no later than 4:30 p.m. to allow proper time and assistance to open a guardianship and/or conservatorship.
  • Commitments - please arrive at office no later than 4:00 for emergency pick up orders, as paperwork must be delivered to the Horry County Police Department before 5:00 p.m. If you have paperwork for judicial proceedings please arrive prior to 4:30 p.m. to obtain date for hearing.
  • Marriage Licenses - office hours for obtaining a marriage license are 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday to allow time to process the application and/or license.


Probate Court Fees
(A) In estate and conservatorship proceedings, the fee shall be based upon the gross value of the decedent’s probate estate or the protected person’s estate as shown on the inventory and appraisement as follows:
(1) Property valuation less than $5,000.00 $25.00
(2) Property valuation of $5,000.00 but less than $20,000.00 $45.00
(3) Property valuation of $20,000.00 but less than $60,000.00 $67.50
(4) Property valuation of $60,000.00 but less than $100,000.00 $95.00
(5) Property valuation of $100,000 but less than $600,000.00 plus .15 percent of the property valuation between $100,000.00 and $600,000.00 $95.00
(6) Property valuation of $600,000.00 or higher, amount set forth in (5) above plus one-fourth of one percent of the property valuation above $600,000.00  
(B) Other fees of the Probate Court are as follows:
(1) Issuing certified copy (plus .50 per page for photocopies) $5.00
(2) Issuing exemplified or authenticated copy (plus .50 per page for photocopies) $20.00
(3) Photocopy & microfilm copies $0.50
(4) Filing Demands for Notice $5.00
(5) Filing Conservatorship Accounting $10.00
(6) Filing and Indexing Will under Section 62-2-901 $10.00
(7) Recording authenticated or certified record $20.00
(8) Reopening closed estate (subsequent administration) $22.50
(9) Appointment of special or temporary fiduciary $22.50
(10) Will Filed Only advertising fee $15.00
(11) Re-Open Due to Rule 4 $150.00
(12) Order issued without a hearing $15.00
(13) Certificates of Appointment (after the initial 5) $1.00 each
(14) Certifying appeal record $10.00
(15) Research fee $10.00
(16) Filing the initial petition in any action or proceeding other than based upon property valuations above, same fee as charged for filing civil actions in circuit court $150.00
(17) Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property:    
  Property Value Less than $100.00 $12.50  
  Property Value $100.00 but less than $5,000.00 $25.00  
  Property Value $5,000.00 but less than $20,000.00 $45.00  
  Property Value $20,000.00 and up to $25,000.00 $67.50  
(18) Administering oath to out-of-state fiduciaries   $20.00
(19) Marriage Licenses: No Personal Checks accepted. Cash Only    
  Horry County residents $50.00  
  SC State residents $75.00  
  All others $115.00  
  Certified copy of marriage license $5.00  
  Reforming or correcting marriage license $6.75  
  Issuance of duplicate copy of marriage license lost before recording $6.75  
Newspaper Advertising Fees
The Horry Independent $30.00
The Loris Scene $30.00
The Loris Times $20.00
The North Myrtle Beach Times $20.00
The Sun News $30.00
The Tabor-Loris Tribune $30.00


Estate Administration
If there is a Will, this must be filed with the Court within thirty (30) days from the date of death.

The majority of estates will come under the informal procedures. There are no Notices required or Hearings unless demanded by an interested party pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws, § 62-3-204.

Formal proceedings are contested matters such as objections to appointments of personal representatives, will contests, lost or destroyed will and declaratory judgements on intestacy. Formal proceedings require Notices to all interested parties and a Hearing. Formal proceedings must be commenced within the later of eight months from informal probate or one year from the decedent's death.

A Small Estate Administration occurs when the decedent's personal property less liens and encumbrances does not exceed twenty-five thousand dollars. This cannot take place until thirty (30) days after death. The death certificate and a copy of the funeral bill must be furnished to the Court.

Under a Small Summary Administration the appointment of a Personal Representative is made. An Inventory and Appraisement must be filed with the Court. If the total assets that pass through the estate wherever located, and liens and encumbrances are less than twenty-five thousand dollars, the Personal Representative, after giving notice to creditors, may immediately disburse and distribute the estate to the entitled persons. A verified statement to close and a full account in writing must be filed with the Court and copied served on all distributees and creditors whose claims are neither paid nor barred.
New Estate Package
Guardianship and Conservatorship
In the State of South Carolina, a guardianship involves the appointment of an individual (a guardian) to handle personal and custodial matters for an incapacitated person (ward). The incapacity may be mental deficiency, mental illness, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic use of alcohol or drugs, or other cause (except minority) to the extent the individual lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person or property. The primary responsibilities of a guardian are to decide where the ward will live and make provisions for the ward's care, comfort and maintenance, including medical and health care decisions.

A conservatorship or other protected proceeding involves the management of financial affairs or property. Conservatorships may be established for an incapacitated person or for a minor. In every case, the court must determine that there is money or property, which requires management or protection, which cannot otherwise be provided. The primary responsibilities of a conservator are to manage and protect the property and to report periodically to the court about the assets, receipts and disbursements of the estate.

In some cases, there will be both a guardianship and conservatorship for the incapacitated person. All guardianships and conservatorships are under court supervision. It is the court's responsibility to make certain that the guardianship and conservatorship are functioning in the best interests of the protected person. It is the guardian's and conservator's responsibility to follow the court's instructions and to always act in the best interest of the protected person.
Involuntary Commitments
If you know someone who is mentally ill, an alcoholic or drug addict who has lost the power of self control and because of his condition is likely to harm himself or others you must first contact Waccamaw Center for Mental Health for an assessment prior to coming to Probate Court.

Our Commitments for mental illness and chemical dependency (drugs and alcohol) are involuntarily court ordered. The judicial commitment process with either Waccamaw Center for Mental Health, a hospital or a doctor initiating proceedings through an emergency commitment or judicial commitment. Once it has been determined which type of proceedings are appropriate for the person in need of treatment, paperwork is then submitted to Probate Court and a hearing is set. Probate Court holds commitment hearings once a week, on Tuesday.
Marriage License

Both applicants, the groom and bride, must bring their social security card with them in order to make an application in person for a marriage license.

To the full extent permitted by the Constitution, the Probate Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over all subject matter related to the issuance of marriage licenses; record, index, and dispose of copies of marriage certificates; and issue certified copies of the license and certificates.

It is unlawful for any persons to contract matrimony, i.e. marry, within this State without first obtaining a marriage license from the Probate Court.

The Probate Court may issue a marriage license upon: (a) the filing of the marriage application, (b) the lapse of at least twenty-four hours thereafter, (c) the payment of the fee, (d) and the filing of a statement, under oath or affirmation, to the effect that the persons seeking the contract of matrimony are legally entitled to marry, together with the full names of the persons, their ages and places of residence.

Only ministers of the Gospel, Jewish rabbis, officers authorized to administer oaths in this State, and the chief or spiritual leader of a Native American Indian entity recognized by the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs pursuant to Section 1-31-40 are authorized to administer a marriage ceremony in this State.

Marriage Licenses are public record and are open to the public during regular business hours from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Forms for Restoration of Gun Rights

(Pursuant to §23-31-1030 Et. Seq.)

Administrative Order

Petition For Relief Pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. §23-31-1040

Authorization and Release Form

Mental Health Evaluation Form

SLED Background Check Form

584GC Petition for Sale of Real Estate  PDF   DOC

585GC Motion for Transfer of Venue  PDF   DOC

586GC Motion for Extension  PDF   DOC

Download Petition for Relief Packet


What is Probate for?
Probate is the transfer of assets out of the decedent's name to the proper heirs.
How long does it take to probate the estate?
A regular estate will take at least eight months because that is the time period that an estate must stay open for creditor's claims, by state law. You should probably allow at least one year for a nontaxable and uncontested estate to close.
What is a Personal Representative and what are their duties?
A Personal Representative is the person appointed to handle an estate. The Personal Representative is responsible for collecting, protecting and administering the estate. This includes giving Notice to all interested parties, filing an Inventory of the estate, making sure the assets are secure, paying required claims and costs, and making sure the proper people get what they are entitled to receive.
How do I know if I need to establish a guardianship or conservatorship?
If you know someone who, because of disability, can no longer manage their money or make decisions about their personal or medical care, that person may need a court-appointed guardian or conservator. In the case of a minor, a conservator must be appointed in certain cases when the minor is entitled to receive a sum of money from an insurance settlement, inheritance, etc.
When are protective proceedings NOT necessary?
If a Health Care Power of Attorney exists, a guardianship may be avoided. If a Durable Power of Attorney exists, a conservatorship may be avoided.
What estate planning documents should I have?
Everyone should consider a Last Will and Testament, Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Declaration of a Desire for a Natural Death (Living Will).
I had a Will drawn up; can I file it in your office?
A Will is not filed in the Probate Court office until the person is deceased.
Do life insurance policies payable to the beneficiary have to go through probate?
Life insurance policies payable to the beneficiary must be reported on your Inventory and Appraisement but are not calculated in the filing fees. The transfer of that asset should be dealt with by the beneficiary of the policy and the company or agency providing the benefit.

Common Terms

Official proof of an instrument offered as the last Will and Testament of a person deceased.
To make an attested copy or transcript under seal.
Personal Representative
The person appointed to handle the estate of he deceased person.
Involuntary Commitment
Court hearing whereby a person is adjudicated mentally ill or chemically dependent and involuntary inpatient hospitalization and/or involuntary outpatient treatment is ordered.
Cne who is appointed by the court to make provide care and supervision of an incapacitated person.
Cne who is appointed by the court to manage the assets of a protected person.
Proceeding with definite issues of fact or law in which witnesses are heard and parties proceeded against have the right to be heard.
All property of any description belonging to a person.
Incapacitated Person
Any person who is impaired by reason of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, advanced age, chronic intoxication or other cause (except minority) to the extent that he lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person.
A person or institution who has been entrusted with the management of money or property for another and who must exercise a standard of care imposed by law or contract.
Guardian ad Litem
Court appointed attorney to protect the interests of a specific person (minor or incapacitated person) pursuant to a court hearing.
Criminal Domestic Fund
Enacted by the General Assembly and administered by the Department of Social Services whose revenues are used solely to award grants to certain domestic violence centers and programs in the state. This additional twenty-dollar fee to be collected with the marriage license fee and remitted to the Slate Treasurer and credited to the Domestic Violence Fund.
Authority to hear a case.

Department Well

Judge Kathy G. Ward
Phone: (843) 915-5370
Fax: (843) 915-6370
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 288
Conway, SC 29528
Physical Address
1301 Second Avenue
Conway, SC 29526
Office Hours
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday through Friday

Probate Judge

Judge Ward

Kathy G. Ward
Horry County Probate Judge

Read Biography

Office Hours Probate Court