NEWS/BLOG

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Please use the links to the right to check out firm news and more information relating to these specific areas of law. Happy reading and please contact us if you have any questions that we can help answer.


KellyGram – Nothing to do in Columbia?

 

Why do people say there is nothing to do in Columbia? I have commented on this before and having lived in this town since I was eighteen years old, I am always stunned and amazed by the number of fun, social activities Columbia offers every single day and night!

For example, last night, the Colonial Life Arena hosted this weekend’s first Disney on Ice performance, The South Carolina State Museum held Sweet & Savory (a local chefs’ competition), and the Township Auditorium hosted a live jazz concert! Last weekend, the South Carolina Philharmonic held a concert and, of course, my son, Patrick, directed the play “Hand to God”, at the Trustus Theatre!

If you are looking for something to do tonight, you might want to check out the Palmetto Chamber Orchestra at Katie and Irwin Kahn JCC or the wine tasting event at the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden.

On Saturday, South Carolina State Fairgrounds will host the Annual South Carolina Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival and the Smithsonian exhibit “Beyond Bollywood” opens at the South Carolina State Museum. There will also be a “Touch a Truck” event located at the South Carolina State Farmers Market where children can touch and explore firetrucks, bulldozers, military vehicles, and much more!

Lastly, this Sunday, the Ebenezer Lutheran Church will host a BBQ and Blues event with live food and music and the Museum of Art will be holding the Greater Columbia Record Fair, with record vendors bringing all the best vinyl to Columbia!

Let’s not forget the ongoing events like Soda City on Main Street and the daily South Carolina State House Tours! The list is endless, so never let it be said that there’s nothing to do in Columbia!


Have a great (and busy) weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – National Social Security Month

 

As most people know, I’ve been handling Social Security Disability claims (and every now and then a retirement claim) for almost forty years. April is National Social Security Month, the month in which we celebrate the creation and continuing existence of Social Security. The Social Security program is a life-saving safety net for many millions of Americans. Next month, it will take on a new significance for me because, as of May, I will be a first time, card-carrying Medicare recipient.

I always say one of the best benefits of the Social Security program is being a recipient of a Medicare or Medicaid card. Medicaid, as it currently exists (who knows what will happen down the road), is a wonderful insurance program for those who are beneficiaries. Without it, many South Carolinians, and many Americans, would have no access to healthcare whatsoever. On a more personal note, I am faced with making a very important decision, as I’m sure many of my peers are, and that is, when I will begin to draw my Social Security retirement benefits. After checking with the professionals, I am planning to wait until age seventy, if possible, to draw the benefits that I have paid for over a lengthy career.

My staff and I at the Mike Kelly Law Group represent claimants who need help appealing denied applications for Social Security Disability Benefits. Our experienced attorneys are very successful at recovering benefits and expediting this process for our clients. We care about our clients and stay true to our statement: We’re here for the people of South Carolina, with offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach and Winnsboro.


Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – It’s Friday but Sunday is coming…..

 

As we are deep into the holy week, with Good Friday being one of the most solemn days in Christian life, I am reminded of a sermon given by Dr. Marshall Edwards, who pastored at The First Baptist Church of Columbia and later at St. Andrews Baptist Church. He was a friend and I admired him greatly, as a person and as a preacher. His sermon, “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming…”, gave a detailed account of the darkness, gloom and utter despair of the events of that Good Friday, to the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday. In all our lives, sometimes the darkest moments are followed by new beginnings.

The Mike Kelly Law Group will be closed today in observance of Good Friday, as is our tradition, but we will be back at work on Monday after the resurrection story has been celebrated to the highest!


Have a Blessed Easter Weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – National Championships

 

For South Carolina athletes, 2016-17 has been remarkable in terms of showing their excellence on the national stage. For starters, the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers won their first ever national college baseball championship. For a relatively young school of a smaller size to achieve this lofty rank was incredible! This was followed by the NCAA Football Championship being won by the Clemson Tigers. More recently, the outstanding achievement of the University of South Carolina’s men’s and women’s basketball teams making it to their respective final fours, with the women’s team claiming victory in the finals, making the Lady Gamecocks, the well-deserved NCAA WBB National Champions!

Topping it all off, from the world of golf, Irmo’s own Dustin Johnson winning six times in the last eighteen tournaments, most recently, the World Golf Championships. This week, due to injury, he has withdrawn from the Masters Tournament held 60 miles down the road from us, in Augusta, Georgia. Without a doubt; Dustin was a favorite of many to win the Masters this year. I have full confidence that a Masters win is imminent in this promising young champion’s future!

Excellence in athletics and academics are a hallmark of our state institutions. We, at the Mike Kelly Law Group, strive for excellence as we serve the legal needs of our clients and the people of South Carolina.


Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Veterans Benefits

 

In light of the ongoing issues within the Veterans Administration concerning the provision of medical and disability services to those who have served our country, let me take this opportunity to remind you that the Mike Kelly Law Group stands ready to assist veterans with their claims for disability benefits. We have a team of professionals, both here in Columbia and in Myrtle Beach, SC, who are knowledgeable in this area, and are ready to assist veterans in the complicated and cumbersome process of obtaining the benefits they so rightfully deserve. We do this with compassion, concern and respect for those who have honorably given of their time, health and well-being in order to keep our great nation safe. If you, or someone you know, need help with challenging the Veterans Administration, please do not hesitate to contact us. In addition to Veterans Disability Benefits services, we continue to be out front and leading the way with regards to all other disability claims, including short-term disability, long-term disability and, of course, Social Security Disability. The Mike Kelly Law Group is here for the people of South Carolina, and we thank the courageous men and women who have served and continue to serve and protect our country and our freedoms!


Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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Auto Accidents and The Law Here in South Carolina

Mike Kelly

For this month’s MKLG Blog, I have selected the subject of automobile accidents, especially here in South Carolina. I have handled the claims of personal injury victims of all types, including death claims, for over 40 years. While I would not cite myself as an authority on too many topics, I believe I have a great deal of insight into automobile accidents and the resulting devastation they cause to individuals here in the Palmetto State.

The National Safety Council released some alarming statistics this year. Nationally, there were 40,000 traffic deaths in 2016. This number was 6% over 2015 and 40% over the 2014 figures. This was the highest total in 53 years, and is alarming to say the least. My personal opinion is that accidents are happening with increasing regularity because drivers here in South Carolina are in too much of a hurry. They speed, they cut corners and they take unnecessary chances. If everyone would slow down and drive at or below the speed limit, I predict you would see a substantial drop in injuries and fatalities. My pet peeve is trying to pull out of the street from my neighborhood onto Trenholm Road and watching the cars zip by like they are going to a fire. I hate to say it, but I predict a fatality there one day unless traffic safety measures are enacted on Trenholm Road. Other key causes of auto accidents are texting while driving and other cell phone usage, and driving while impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol.

There are numerous suggestions to improve safety, such as greater enforcement (especially to catch speeders), ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers, a three-tiered licensing system for all new drivers under the age of 21, adopting comprehensive programs for pedestrian safety and my favorite: reinstating motorcycle helmet laws here in South Carolina. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why we have not done this already. I am hoping and praying for an improvement in our injury/fatality statistics in South Carolina.

What should you do if you are injured or lose a loved one due to an automobile accident?

1. Besides the obvious, requiring a police officer to write up a report (except in the most minor accidents);
2. Reporting it to your insurance carrier immediately; and
3. If you are injured, consulting a competent lawyer. I would further suggest you check out the lawyer personally and not rely solely on the TV ads.

Lawyers who promise a quick result are not the way to go, particularly if you are substantially injured. You need a lawyer who will take the time to give your case the attention it deserves. I am biased, but believe there is no finer team to handle a personal injury claim in South Carolina than the folks here at the Mike Kelly Law Group!

For additional information I suggest you go on the National Safety Council website www.nsc.org/ and ours www.mklawgroup.com/


KellyGram – Springtime 2017

 

I am grateful to have made it to the start of my forty-seventh consecutive Spring Season living here in Columbia, South Carolina. Thirty-nine of those seasons have been experienced as a practicing attorney! Sometimes spring roars in like a lion and at other times comes in like a lamb. We have had a very mixed weather pattern the first few months of 2017, but I can honestly tell you whichever way springtime enters, I have never been more excited about living in the Midlands and experiencing everything we have to offer, here, in the Soda City. From theater to music, to the Three Rivers Greenway and the University of South Carolina, to the diverse culinary dining options and the countless community events, to the overall growth and vitality of this vibrant city, I feel truly blessed to live and work in this world-class city and a happening place. I invite you too, to explore, participate, and enjoy the limitless offerings of our exceptional capital city, Columbia, South Carolina!


Have a great weekend and enjoy the Spring Season!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Rewarding Excellence

 

In this week’s KellyGram, it is my pleasure to officially announce that I have appointed two new shareholders to the Mike Kelly Law Group – Ms. Lisa Long Cotten, Esq., and Mr. Bradley D. Hewett, Esq. Lisa has worked with me for more than 10 years, and Brad has been with me for almost 10 years. They have consistently demonstrated their dedication to our clients and to this firm, as well as excellence in the services they provide. I had sworn never to have any additional shareholders in my firm, but I changed my mind in view of their outstanding contributions to the legal profession here in South Carolina. Brad, our chief litigator, is married to his high school sweetheart, Markie. They have two daughters, Carmen and Adelyn and a son on the way. Lisa, a Phi Beta Kappa, heads our administrative law team and is married to her husband, Will, and has a son, Myles. Brad and Lisa are an asset to the legal community, the Mike Kelly Law Group, their families and most importantly, to the clients they serve. We could not be prouder of them. Congratulations to Lisa and Brad!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and have a safe weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Paul Swearingen

 

In 2017, I plan on introducing the other members of the Mike Kelly Law Group to the KellyGram nation. Our featured attorney this week is Michael Paul Swearingen. Paul, as his friends call him, was born and raised in Winnsboro, South Carolina, and attended Spartanburg Methodist College and Newberry College. He then attended USC School of Law, graduating in 1998. After law school, Paul went back to Winnsboro and has practiced law and has served the community there ever since. His wife, Amanda, is also part of the Mike Kelly Law Group family, and they have four children, Kristi, Hayden, Ethan and Aiden.

Paul’s practice centers around Wills, Trusts, Estate and Probate Law and Real Estate transactions. He is very experienced in his craft, and is available to our clients in all three offices, Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro. It is important as we go through life and accumulate assets that we have a will and an estate plan to avoid taxes, family disputes, and other bad things that happen when our loved ones leave us. It is also important to have your own lawyer and not depend on the bank and financial institutions’ counsel. For more information on why this is so important, please read Paul’s blog this month on hiring an attorney.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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Do I need a Lawyer?

Paul Swearingen

I get asked this question quite often. Obviously, my opinion is a bit biased, but I always consider the circumstances and give an honest answer to the question. There are times when you really don’t need a lawyer, but in the majority of circumstances, the answer is “YES!”

In my eighteen years of practicing law, I have encountered countless instances where having an attorney involved would have changed the outcome of the proceedings. I have seen litigants in magistrate court who may have been entitled to a judgment of up to $7,500.00, if they had only brought with them some evidence, such as an estimate, affidavit, or witness, to substantiate their claim. Because they failed to do so, and therefore failed to meet their burden of proof, they lost their case and probably gave up their only chance of recovering the money they were due. An attorney could have easily assisted them in gathering the proper evidence needed to prevail at trial. Instead, they left court having spent money to file the action, and recovering nothing to compensate them for their damages. There are countless more stories of people who have been in an accident and settled with the insurance company without an attorney for far less than they were entitled.

My primary areas of practice are real estate and probate. I have had clients come to me who used forms that they purchased on the internet, only to discover that the forms did not carry out their wishes as they intended. These forms conform to South Carolina laws, but they tend to be “one size fits all” and do not always fit your particular set of circumstances. The clients were quite disappointed to learn that they were unable to accomplish what they wanted to do with the forms they purchased, which resulted in them having to spend more money to have an attorney prepare documents to meet their needs.

I have encountered many situations in probate where someone decided that it was not necessary to have a will or a power of attorney drafted, then that person dies or becomes incapacitated, and his or her family is left with the expense of resolving the issues that would not have occurred if the proper documents had been put into place. These are definitely situations where, as they would say in the medical profession, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The cost of careful planning is minimal compared to the cost of resolving the problems created by lack of planning.

Most people are concerned about the cost of estate planning, which is completely understandable. But consider how much less expensive proper estate planning can be as opposed to no estate planning. If you were to be injured and rendered unable to communicate your decisions, or if you were to be stricken with alzheimers or dementia and unable to legally handle your own affairs, who is going to handle your affairs for you? With a proper power of attorney and healthcare power of attorney, you don’t have to worry about who will pay your bills, conduct your legal affairs, or consent to treatments. Without these documents, your family would have to go through a probate court proceeding in order to be granted the same powers that they could get from these documents. Probate proceedings are costly, and it takes time to move through the process and get into court to be appointed. When all is said and done, probate proceedings could cost roughly ten times the amount it would have cost to get power of attorney documents drafted by an attorney.

When speaking about the subject of hiring a professional, I am reminded of a story told by a businessman and motivational speaker named Harvey Mackay, which goes like this:

A woman received a phone call at work that her daughter was very sick with a fever. She left the office and stopped by the pharmacy to get some medication, but when she got back to her car, she discovered that she’d locked her keys inside.
Desperate, she started to pray: “Dear God, please help me get back in my car so I can help my daughter.”
Just then a man pulled up on a motorcycle. He had a long beard and his arms were covered with tattoos. He asked what the matter was, and the tearful mother told him.
“Don’t worry,” the biker said. “I can get inside the car.” He went into the drugstore and came out with a coat hanger. In minutes, he had the door open.
“Oh, thank you!” the woman cried. “I prayed for someone to help me, and God sent me the kindest man in the world!”
Embarrassed, the man took a step backward. “I’m not actually a good person, ma’am. In fact, I just got out of prison last week for stealing cars.”
The woman looked up toward heaven. “Thank you, God, for sending me a professional!”

The legal process can be very complicated. Attorneys spend three years in law school just learning to read, research, interpret and understand laws and court rulings. We are constantly learning new things through our practice of law, and the law is always evolving. It is almost impossible for the layman to know all the things that it has taken us years to learn. The question becomes, how can you not afford to take advantage of an attorney’s knowledge and experience?

Most attorneys offer free initial consultations to evaluate your situation and tell you what they can do to help. If you think you have a legal matter to pursue, or if you want to get your legal affairs in order for the future, you owe it to yourself to consult an attorney to determine if you need assistance. I can tell you that I and the other attorneys at the Mike Kelly Law Group will give you an honest assessment of your situation, and we will tell you if we feel that it would be unnecessary for you to spend your money acquiring our services. You can’t afford not to explore your options!