About The Author

My name is Tiffany Provence and I’m an attorney with the law firm of Provence Messervy. Prior to founding this firm with my partner, Jim Messervy, I served Dorchester County as the Probate Judge for almost eleven (11) years. Probate and probate litigation is a large part of my practice, although I also handle wrongful death, mediation and guardianships / conservatorships. I enjoy helping families through this difficult time and ensuring they understand the process and protection afforded them by our probate system. I also enjoy being in the courtroom litigating some of probate’s finest nuances such as will contests, common law marriage and wrongful death entitlement. I currently practice all over South Carolina and have also been fortunate enough to work with other attorneys in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Georgia and California. In addition to helping families, I am also privileged enough to  work with some of South Carolina’s finest law firms on their products liability, wrongful death and personal injury issues.

In addition to myself, our firm has some other great talent in the areas of criminal law, domestic law, estate planning and civil litigation. We also provide a full range of mediation services and have mediators certified in both family and civil mediation. We have two locations in the Lowcountry (Summerville and Daniel Island) which make us convenient for those in Charleston, Dorchester, Berkeley and surrounding counties. Should you want more information about our firm, location, hours or areas of practice, I encourage you to poke around our website at www.ProvenceMesservy.com.

I would love to receive your comments or questions so I can ensure this blog addresses the things you need to know!

Tiffany Provence

18 Responses to About The Author

  1. Doug Delaney says:

    i like your website, very informative

  2. Rae Becker says:

    Thanks so much for this blog! It is great information and very helpful.

  3. Mary says:

    My boyfriend and I have lived together here in SC for 3 years now. He has claimed me on tax returns in the past not as married but as a dependent. He also has me listed on his health insurance through his work as a common law spouse. I recently found out he his cheating on me. Are we considered common law married? Also at the beginning of the year in signed my vehicle over and he purchased a truck only in his name. Do I have any rights to this matter?

  4. I would advise you to see a domestic attorney that has experience in common law marriage immediately. The primary issue you have is that you must first prove your marriage in order to then get divorced. There are of course pros and cons to this, especially if the rights you have will be worth less (financially) than what you could expect to receive. In order for an attorney to properly consult with you, you need to take with you ALL evidence of the common law marriage (including a copy of the health insurance) as well as a general statement of the financial worth of your partner.

  5. Laurie says:

    My mother passed away on 9/14/2013. There was not an estate and my dad had to get help from family to help pay for the funeral expenses. The hospital has forwarded my mother’s debt to their collector’s attorney. As a result, the attorney mailed my father a letter and referenced several really old court cases stating that he is responsible for the debt because of the cost of necessaries. When I researched this, the state of SC states that since SC is not a community property state, my dad is not responsible. He did not sign anything as guarantor. How do we proceed?

  6. Laurie,

    This is a difficult question to answer without reviewing the documents being sent to your father or confirming he did not personally guarantee. However, generally speaking, creditor’s who can not pursue an estate will do just about anything to convince an individual that they must assume the debt. At this point, I’m not sure you proceed at all. If they have not moved to get a judgement against your father then there isn’t a need to do anything.

  7. Lisa says:

    Hi Laurie,
    First, I love the website and it is very informative. I have a question. My mother and her living siblings would like to sell their portion of their parents estate (both deceased). The estate has a will that equally divides the property amoung the children. However, two siblings have passed away and there is a debt lien against them (probate is still open). Their portion goes to their children. Is there a way for my mother and her living siblings to sell their portion of the estate without a close probate of the deceased siblings?

  8. Marcus Valdes says:

    First of all, great web stie!
    Question: If my father died intestate, and my stepmother refuses to open probate because we want a bond (and she doesn’t), are we able to open probate ourselves?

  9. Alfreda Dunn says:

    My mother died in SC in 1988. My brother, the executor, borrowed $1,500 from the attorney he hired to settle the estate. My mother had a valid will. The attorney filed the will as heir’s property, thereby, placing his wife ‘s name on my family’s property. I have been paying the taxes and maintenance since 1988. How do I correct this now?

  10. Marcus – I apologize for the delay as your comment was somehow trapped in our spam filter. If your stepmother refuses to open the estate, you can file a formal Petition for testacy asking that you be appointed. In most situations, this brings the reluctant person to the table b/c they will get notice of the hearing but at least it gets things moving along. The longer an estate goes unopened, the more likely it is to be mismanaged or dissipated.

  11. Wm H Mcclure says:

    Tiffany,

    I just finished your great detailed article regarding probate which was writtena few years ago and woud like to know if there is a more current update of this information.

    Strange in that I called the probate office in Spartanburg a few months and asked for some pre planning info/requirements and was told that they had none!!!. Later looked at Greenville’s web site and it was great.

    Sent Sptbg an email re above and not even a response- really looking forward to deal with this bunch of non helpfulls.

    Ever think about moving to the upstate???

    thanks for your effort

    Hovey Mc

  12. Kaye says:

    Great website! My mother had multiple fine jewelry pieces the estate attorney is telling me, the PR, to price at garage sale prices for purposes of dividing it. How am I supposed to know the garage sale price on a $2k necklace and the like? Beneficiaries agreed in writing not to have jewelry appraised for cost reasons. My sister also cherrypicked the jewelry right after Mom’s death and is admitting to only taking a few pieces, leaving thousands of dollars in jewelry unaccounted for that I saw after the death but is now missing. I consider it theft. The estate attorney doesn’t seem interested in this and advised me it’s a “she said, she said” matter. What are my options? I feel the estate’s been robbed.

  13. Kaye –

    Great questions. Personal property always creates a huge hassle in estates. If you can PROVE that your sister removed jewelry, you can bring a Petition to Return Assets to the Estate but if your attorney is advising that you don’t have the proof, you might be stuck with only dealing with what she admits.

    As to pricing, I often find it’s impossible to place value on this. If you are doing a value for the inventory, you are not required to consider sentimental value and can simply use the garage sale method. However, when looking to divide items it’s often the case that people will dispute the worth. Instead of dealing with value, you might consider talking to your attorney about dividing by using a family auction method or simply drawing numbers and taking turns selecting a piece (regardless of value). These take the focus off of value and allow each person to choose which pieces mean the most to them in an order based on chance.

  14. Kaye says:

    Dear Ms. Provence,

    Thank you most helpful response.

    This is the first I’ve heard of Petition to Return Assets to the Estate despite my multiple complaints to my attorney that valuable property is missing from the estate. Thank you for advising me on this. I’ll look into it. I have no problem swearing to the court that I saw the jewelry right after my mother’s death and now it’s missing. Somebody has it. I like the family auction suggestion. Great idea! You’re excellent. Thank you!

  15. Alice Cameron says:

    Your information is very helpful.
    I am looking for the duties an attorney has with his client, a Conservator for an estate involving the use of allocations of marital property for his own use.

    Thank you,

    Alice L Cameron

  16. Alice –

    Please email us at Tiffany@ProvenceMesservy.com. I need a better understanding of your question. Primarily, I need to understand if the attorney represents the Conservator individually or solely in their capacity as Conservator. Also, please confirm if the allegations regarding the use of marital property are being made BY or AGAINST the Conservator.

    Thank you.

  17. charles says:

    I am tring to help a friend. She is in a situation with joint tennants with rights of surviourship.
    tim bought a house and on deed is was purchased as tim donna and anita…tims mother. at the time of purchase donna and tim were not married. There is a paper that list donna and anita..his mother joint tennants with rights of surviourship. Well shortly after house was purchased donna and tim got married marking her the spouse. Now donna went on vacation and anita moved out cause she purchased a home in illos. she comes back to find alot of furniture and husband ashes gone along with many other things. now anita had donna the wife served with papers tring to get her to partion. A lawyer advised her to seek a probate lawyer. there was no will just this paper that was done at time of purchase brfore marriage.there has not been a probate yet donna was told no need to do so by mother anita. the death is almost a year old. how do we proceed.

  18. Judith Hall says:

    Tiffany’s wonderful. As she did in the past, she responded to my current questions quickly, kindly, and patiently. Tiffany is very knowledgeable and helpful. I highly recommend her! Oh, I so wish she had been my divorce attorney!!

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