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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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2009-04-28-02 (Superseded by Order 2014-05-23-02)

The Supreme Court of South Carolina

Re: Revised Records Retention Policy for Probate Courts


 

ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER

 

Pursuant to the provisions of S.C. Const. Art. V § 4,

I find that, pursuant to Rule 78(a), SCRCP, the court records of the Probate Courts of the State of South Carolina shall be retained and preserved pursuant to the attached revised Records Retention Policy bearing a revision date of (04/2009).

I further find that the Records Retention Policy is in accordance with the standards set by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. 

NOW THEREFORE, pursuant to the provisions of the S.C. Const. Art. V, § 4 and Rule 78(a), SCRCP, the attached Records Retention Policy bearing a revision date of April 2009, which is incorporated and made part of this Order, is hereby adopted effective immediately.  This Order supersedes the February 6, 1990 and November 27, 1990 orders as well as all other orders regarding records retention for Probate Courts. 

IT IS SO ORDERED.

s/Jean Hoefer Toal                                   
Jean Hoefer Toal, Chief Justice

Columbia, South Carolina
April 28, 2009

RECORDS RETENTION SCHEDULE FOR PROBATE COURTS

The Probate Courts must retain Decedent Estate, Guardianship, Committeeship, Conservatorship, Marriage, and Judicial Commitment records, including indices, in accordance with this policy.

GENERAL

1. Probate Court records must be protected from theft and unauthorized destruction.  Each county shall provide safe and secure facilities for storage of Probate Court Records and files covered by this Order. 
 
2. No original records which are still administratively active shall be removed from the custody of the Probate Courts except for reasons of security or as otherwise authorized by South Carolina Court Administration or the South Carolina Department of Archives & History.
 
3. Probate Court records covered by this policy, other than Commitment Records, retained in the custody of the court when all administrative activity has ceased shall be kept as records of permanent value according to standards approved for the storage and retrieval of such records by the South Carolina Department of Archives & History.
 
4. Records indices which become obsolete due to replacement will be treated as part of the record series that they index and will be evaluated for their reference value by the South Carolina Department of Archives & History before disposition can be made.
 
5. a.  If records are microfilmed, the film must meet microfilming and certification requirements issued by the South Carolina Department of Archives & History as “Standards for the Microfilming of Public Records.”  Records may be microfilmed while administratively active provided that the microfilm used is one which can be updated, such as microfilm jackets or microfiche.  Erasable microfilm is not acceptable.  Probate Courts microfilming records covered by the provisions of this policy shall deposit security microfilm copies of the filmed records with the South Carolina Department of Archives & History for safekeeping.  Security copies (a) must meet the “Standards for the Microfilming of Public Records” and (b) remain the property of the Probate Court.
 
  b.  A Probate Court may choose to have its records imaged so that they can be viewed on a computer or other device, provided the standards set forth by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History are met (see Public Records Information Leaflet No 13 and any subsequent policy statements for details).  Each county shall ensure that all imaged records are adequately protected and that back-up copies are created and stored safely. 
 
  c.  If a Probate Court chooses to microfilm or image its records and make those images available in the Probate Court or from remote locations, then once the imaged or microfilmed file is available, the Probate Court will not be required to keep paper records on the shelf after administrative activity on the file has ceased.
 
  d.   In accordance with specific timelines set forth in this policy, records and/or film may be removed or transferred from the Probate Court only to a storage facility acceptable to the South Carolina Department of Archives & History or at that department’s discretion to its own custody for appropriate retention or disposition.
 
6. The retention requirements contained in this policy are the minimum, i.e., one may retain records longer than timelines stated herein.
 
 

DECEDENT ESTATES

7. Original records must be retained in the Probate Court for 75 years from case initiation, except as follows:  If microfilmed or imaged (see item 5 above), original records must be retained in the Probate Court until all administrative action on the file has ceased and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see Item 2 above).  The microfilm or images must be retained in the Probate Court 75 years from case initiation.
 
 

GUARDIANSHIPS / COMMITTEESHIPS / CONSERVAT0RSHIPS

8. Original records must be retained in the Probate Court for 75 years from case initiation, except as follows:  If microfilmed or imaged (see item 5 above), original records must be retained in the Probate Court until all administrative action on the file has ceased and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see Item 2 above).  The microfilm or images must be retained in the Probate Court 75 years from case initiation.
 
 

MARRIAGE RECORDS

9.

Marriage records, including indices, applications, and licenses, must be retained in the Probate Court permanently, except as follows:  If microfilmed or imaged (see item 5 above), original records must be retained in the Probate Court three years from the date the marriage license is issued and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see Item 2 above), but the microfilm or images must be retained in the Probate Court permanently.
 

 

COMMITMENT RECORDS

10. a.  Original records relating to Commitment proceedings, e.g., Mental Illness and/or Chemical Dependency cases, must be retained in the Probate Court for a minimum of ten years from case initiation, except as follows:  If microfilmed or imaged (see item 5 above), original records must be retained in the Probate Court until all administrative action on the file has ceased and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see Item 2 above) or destroyed.  The microfilm or images must be retained in the Probate Court a minimum of ten years from case initiation.  The microfilm or images may then be retained by the Probate Court or destroyed.
 
   b.  If documents and filings are received or processed by the Probate Court in an electronic format (e.g., image files), the files need not be converted to paper files and the requirements of this Order will be satisfied if those electronic records are maintained, pursuant to paragraph 5 above, for a minimum of ten years from case initiation.
 
 

DOCKET SHEETS

11. a.  Docket sheets related to Decedent Estates must be retained in the Probate Court for 75 years from case initiation, except as follows:  If microfilmed (see item 5 above), original paper records must be retained in the Probate Court five years from case initiation and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see item 2 above) or destroyed.  The microfilm must be retained in the Probate Court 75 years from case initiation.
 
12. b. Docket sheets related to Guardianships/Committeeships/Conservatorships must be retained in the Probate Court for 75 years from case initiation, except as follows:  If microfilmed (see item 5 above), original paper records must be retained in the Probate Court five years from case initiation and may then be removed from the Probate Court (see item 2 above) or destroyed.  The microfilm must be retained in the Probate Court 75 years from case initiation.