The Probate Judge is popularly elected to a four year term and has jurisdiction over marriage licenses, estates of deceased persons, guardianships of incompetents, conservatorships of estates of minors and incompetents, minor settlements under $25,000 and involuntary commitments to institutions for mentally ill and/or chemically dependent persons. The Probate Judge also has exclusive jurisdiction over trusts and concurrent jurisdiction with Circuit Courts over powers of attorney.
Dorchester County Probate Judge
The Honorable Mary L. Blunt
Judge Blunt received her undergraduate degree in English from the College of William and Mary in 1993, where she graduated magna cum laude. She then graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1998 in the top third in her class. Judge Blunt is a member of the South Carolina Bar, the Maryland Bar, and the Washington Bar.
Prior to joining the court, Judge Blunt’s legal career as a private attorney focused on the practice of probate law, trust and estate law, and various forms of elder law including special needs trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships – all of which are issues within the jurisdiction of the Probate Court. For almost a decade, Judge Blunt has worked in this specialized area both for law firms and within her own private practice. She also served as an appointed attorney in hundreds of Probate Court cases in Dorchester County and neighboring counties. As a court-appointed attorney, she represented persons who were allegedly incapacitated, serving both as their counsel and as their Guardian ad litem.
In July 2007, Judge Tiffany Provence appointed Mary Blunt as Associate Probate Judge for Dorchester County. As Associate Judge, Blunt handled the Therapeutic Division of the Probate Court, including Guardianships and Conservatorships. During her tenure as Associate Judge, she presided over Mental Health hearings, Drug and Alcohol hearings, and Judicial/Supplemental Commitment hearings, as well as hearings involving trusts, estates, and guardian & conservatorships. Judge Blunt served as Associate Judge until her Executive Appointment on November 18, 2008, following her election win on November 4, 2008
Judge Blunt has delivered numerous professional presentations on the topics of probate to other attorneys and to professional groups, including: “Selling Real Estate in Probate Court: Avoiding Pitfalls;” “Commitment Procedures for Dorchester EMS;” “Controlling Your Assets: Estate Planning Seminar;” “Estate Planning for the Retired: Probate, Incapacity, and Guardianships;” “Conservatorships – Presenting Information to the Court.” She also presents “Hot Tips from the Bench” on behalf of Dorchester County at the Annual Probate Court Seminar held in Charleston. Judge Blunt has carried information to the public with frequent lectures to civic groups and other organizations on the importance of wills, powers of attorney, and health care powers of attorney.
Judge Blunt is married to Sam Blunt, who is a member of the United States Air Force Reserve at Charleston Air Force Base and a pilot for Delta Air Lines. They have two children.