Making a Will in South Carolina

When I inquired with friends on Facebook about legal issues they would like to learn more about on my blog, the issue of making a will was top on their list.  Although I do not do Wills, Trusts, or Estates, in my law practice, it was on the SC Bar and I passed the Bar (that was before they threw questions out when people missed answers-click here to learn more).

will in South Carolina must be

  1. In writing;
  2. signed either by the testator or someone in his presence and by his direction; and
  3. signed by two credible witnesses, each of whom must have witnessed either the testator’s signing of the will or his acknowledgment of his signature of his will.

An article written by Betsy Simmons, J.D. entitled “Making a Will in South Carolina” goes over several key questions and should answer almost anyone’s general inquiries to making a will.  However, as Ms. Simmons’ biography indicates, she is a California lawyer.

No. You do not need an attorney to perfect a will. However, keep in mind that if you have varying incorporated entities, extremely valuable assets, and/or certain greedy relatives you know you do not want to have your possessions; you may think about paying an attorney to protect your interest.

Otherwise there are several online websites that offer templates for you to insert your personal information and complete a basic will. Some of those websites are listed below:

  1. US Legal Forms promoted by Dave Ramsey;
  2. Legal Zoom– ranges from $69.00-$119.00; and
  3. Nolo

Do I Need A Doctor, Lawyer, or Preacher?: Part 1-Injuries

The beginning of a 3 part series about this trilogy of professionals and how their services can be utilized for you or your family as it pertains to injuries.

  1. Doctorsas defined in Wikipedia:

A physician, medical practitioner or medical doctor practices medicine, and is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease and injury. This is accomplished through a detailed knowledge of anatomyphysiology, diseases and treatment — the science of medicine — and its applied practice — the art or craft of medicine.

  • You go to the doctor when you are injured in an accident, fall down, get bitten by a dog, come down with a virus, or numerous other physical and mental conditions.
  • Nobody knows your body like you know your body. A doctor sees numerous patients a day so voice your ailments when you are in front of them. Don’t expect them to be mind readers.
  • Doctors want to help you that is why they went to school for over 20 years of their lives. However, they are human and this should always be remembered.
  • Immediately go to an Urgent Careor Emergency Room facility, if you have been injured in an accident and feel your injuries arise to this degree. Do not wait on permission from the at fault’s insurance company. They do not dictate your injuries and recovery.
  • When you see a doctor or go to a medical facility make sure you utilize your health insuranceMedicareMedicaidWorkers’ Compensation benefits, etc. If you have these supplemental payment arrangements: use them.
  • Why will my doctor not see me if I was in a wreck?That’s a great question. Ask them. More likely than not, it comes down to money and they want to get paid and not have to wait, which allows insurance companies to starve you out.
  • A great investigation and quick read is Christi Myers of HOUSTON,TX’s (KTRK) report entitled “Doctors Might Turn You Away After a Wreck”.



Triage: Injuries, People, and Priorities

Triage as defined in Wikipedia:

Triage is a process of prioritizing patients based on the severity of their condition. This facilitates the ability to treat as many patients as possible when resources are insufficient for all to be treated immediately. The term comes from the French verb trier, meaning to separate, sort, sift or select.

This can be applied to your everyday life in a non-medical setting. As the three primitive categories were determined on the battlefields of olden days:

1) Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;

2) Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;

3) Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

Which do you fall into in your current state?

I will be providing a three part series of articles about Doctors, Lawyers, and Preachers as it pertains to those families or residents of South Carolina that have been affected by an injury. There is a time when we need each, all, or none.  Likewise, I think everyone should be “triaged” into the 3rd category because immediate care can make a positive difference in all our outcomes.


[My mother was an Emergency Room nurse for over 15 years at Lexington Medical Center. As she was one of the greater influences in my life, I felt it appropriate to utilize terms I grew up with and learned through observation, conversation, and integration.]


Trey Mills: Tricks are for Kids

No doubt there are great lawyers in both the history of the world and of the United States.  Given the fact that I am part of Generation Y, let’s not get caught up in real world details or historic facts.  This ADD Generation enabled by the myriad forms of media outlets does not have time to look in history books or research the “real facts” unless they can be found with a Google search.

Therefore, why shouldn’t one of my role models be a fictional TV series, attorney from Boston Legal? That’s right, Denny Crane! If I were to look up to a non-fictional character in my community, abroad, or from the past, I would have to put up with fatal human flaws, unfounded stereotypes, poor media portrayal and may even become defensive over ignorant people’s opinions formed from other ignorant people’s opinions.  I can accomplish all that with Denny Crane and not be offended because he’s a fictional TV character.

Besides, Denny Crane taught me all there is to know about branding with social networking and being an attorney:

  1. State Your Name Clearly– Get it out there-early and often. I still get called Trip, Trevor, Flood, and other names of ill repute.
  2. Exude Confidence, Especially in the Face of Ignorance-it could be your own or someone else’s.
  3. Reward Yourself-doesn’t matter if you win or lose it’s all in how you thought youplayed the game.
  4. Stand Behind Your Beliefs-a quote I am quite fond of, “You got to dance with the one that brought you.
  5. Every Girl Crazy About a Sharp Dressed Man-ADD is kicking in. I know you probably lost focus after the first paragraph. So what do I have to worry about?

Tips for Young Lawyers on Being Trial Lawyers

Dave Swanner, author of South Carolina Trial Law Blog, has a very resourceful and informative article about “How to Be a Better Trial Lawyer”. In this article he cites 8 great points ranging to involvement in local and national trial organizations to learning anatomy and physics.  I think if you take to heart all of his points you have an excellent guidepost to kicking off your trial career.  I would only like to add several points that I have picked up in the past three years that have helped me:

  1. Keep Detailed Records of Values– I use an Excel Spreadsheet indicating the client, type case, insurance agent, insurance company/defense attorney, settlement amount, attorney fees, and month in which the settlement, or trial, occurred.  The more detailed your records the better you can understand the other side.  There are some attorneys out there that let a case go if a law suit and eventual trial is a strong possibility.  You don’t want to be lumped into that category. Keep an eye on verdict reports and SC Lawyers Weekly.  Numbers are also more important to your partners and managing attorneys come review time.
  2. Find Your Passion-Then funnel it into focus for your litigation. This is easy for me because I hate insurance companies for what they did when I was sick with cancer and what they did to my mother when she was dying with lung cancer.  I draw from that hatred, which is not healthy, and remind myself that I am the only voice and advocate for my clients.  They have come to me because they have been injured, wrongfully accused, misinformed, taken advantage of all their lives, and rest all their confidence on my shoulders.  What a great feeling!
  3. Communicate Without Legalese– You have to speak and explain things like a normal person with your clients, the jury, and the court administrators and personnel.  You can use all those fancy words with opposing counsel and corporate clients but the jury is made up of ordinary people in the community, often times not lawyers or professors.  Remember the jury’s role from your law school education? As George W. Bushwould say, “They’re Deciders! And they decide things.”
  4. Keep Templates from Previous Trials/Work-Issues you faced in your first trial will most likely be issues in your subsequent trials. Evidentiary issues on Hearsay and Expert Testimony seem to always crop up.  Likewise, pretrial and post trial motions you make can be similar.
  5. Be Able to Find the Courtroom-I was late to a Minor Settlement Hearing because I failed to do just that.  I was already running late and failed to get directions but assumed I could find downtown and thus the Courthouse. It was in Laurens County where the Courthouse doesn’t hold court but had been moved out on the bypass into an old shopping center.  By the time I got there I was stressed, flustered and angry at myself.  A lot to carry into a courtroom in front of a judge.
  6. May It Please the Court-remember the logistics of the courtroom and certain formalities. The party with the burden of proof sits closest to the jury, know the number of jury strikes each side is allowed, if you’re the plaintiff will you be allowed the final word after closing, etc.

I think Dave’s tip #7, is the most important one of all.  You can’t call yourself a trial attorney if you have never done a trial.

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