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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 – 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!


KellyGram – Lessons from the Lenten Season

 

I try to stay away from religious and political commentary on my weekly writings of the KellyGram. However, my reflections on Ash Wednesday as I attended the noon service at my beloved home church, St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, compelled me to share with you my some of my takeaways.

I deeply respect the founding principles of our great nation for religious freedom, and that those who read this KellyGram are from all walks of faith. I believe, however, that the following principles of Lent are applicable to all of us, for the betterment of our community citizenship and of ourselves as individuals.

Primarily, Lent is a time of cleansing and self-examination. During these next 40 days of Lent, I plan to examine my own failings, shortcomings, bad habits, and reflect on whom I have wronged over this last year. This will, no doubt, take some time, some prayer, and some pain! I suggest we all can benefit from humbling ourselves by engaging in a rigorous process of self-examination and taking actionable steps to be better people. I am a very blessed man, and I take for granted so many advantages that God has given me on an hourly, if not minute-by-minute, basis. Giving something up for Lent originates with Jesus’s 40 days of fasting, and has applicability to all of us, no matter what our faith. I have elected to give up something for Lent this year which will remain personal to me, but there are other ways Lent can impact our behavior and daily living. In yesterday’s Homily, our interim rector, Rev. Tom Nicoll, talked about self-examination and what comes next. Some may decide not to give up anything (a truly personal choice) but instead decide to add ‘something’ into their daily lives, such as: taking on a civic project, reestablishing contact with an old friend, helping the elderly, the poor and the downtrodden. Not just for a day, but for the Lenten Season, and possibly longer! The opportunities right here in our own community, are endless. I invite your own individual thoughts.

Have a Great Weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – We love happy clients!

 

At the Mike Kelly Law Group we come to work every day in our offices in Columbia, Myrtle Beach, and Winnsboro with the goal of helping people! We try to do it with the best possible compassion, understanding, and customer service combined with the best legal expertise we can deliver. With our vast amount of experience, I am blessed to say that we are able to help lots of people and cover a major portion of the state of South Carolina!

Below is a very special note that I received this week from a Social Security Disability client. As you can see from this excerpt she was very happy with our firm and especially happy with my longest serving employee, Sally Grisetti! She is affectionately known around here as the “Queen.” Sally is the most knowledgeable paralegal on this planet on the subject of disability. She considers it her mission of faith to be there for her clients to answer their questions day, night, or weekends; it does not matter! Sally and the rest of the members of the Mike Kelly Law Group are happy to be here for the people of South Carolina!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Access to Healthcare

 

Access to Heath, Vision and Dental Care in the Midlands is very inconsistent. There are people who have access to first class care and then others who are caught in the gap and have little to no healthcare coverage. With our primary focus on personal injury, insurance, and disability litigation at the Mike Kelly Law Group, we see this firsthand and therefore applaud the United Way of the Midlands for their efforts in providing dental and vision coverage to a significant number of people in our state. Let us pray that whatever happens in Washington with regard to the future of healthcare that more of our citizens have access to a basic human right – healthcare coverage.

Kudos to United Ways of the Midlands!

http://www.wistv.com/story/34466108/one-year-after-expansion-of-services-united-way-providing-dental-vision-care-to-record-number-of-low-income-families

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – Milestone Birthday for Mac Kelly

 

My son, Mac Kelly, turned 30 years young this week, and his actual birthday brought a tear to his dad’s eye. Mac is a loving, kind and charismatic giant who makes friends wherever he goes. He has a signature smile (that God failed to give me) and a calm demeanor that is pleasing to all. He is a strong and handsome young fellow, if I do say so myself. Although he has his challenges, like the rest of us, I am confident that he is going to continue to mature and have a successful future ahead of him.

PS: I am especially proud of the fact that his birthday present, a super duper bicycle, has him out riding 5 – 15 miles per day. Keep up the good work Mac, and you will be a lean, mean, fighting machine. I love you!!!!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – My Thoughts on Selecting an Attorney

 

Having started my 40th year as a practicing attorney, I feel like I am qualified to offer a few good suggestions on how to select your legal representative! The best way is to ask around. Go to knowledgeable friends or acquaintances and ask them about attorneys that they have had personal experiences with. A good attorney is not the one with the flashiest commercials or websites, but one that is friendly, knowledgeable, patient, and surrounds himself or herself with a team of professionals that give outstanding customer service. I also suggest that you check out google reviews and research the attorney’s level of experience. Schedule an in-person consultation where you can spend sufficient face-to-face time to make sure that the attorney is a good fit for your needs.

If you do not want to go through this lengthy process, I would say it is a safe bet to call the Mike Kelly Law Group for your legal needs.

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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KellyGram – First Party and Insurance Bad Faith Claims

 

Throughout the entire history of our firm, we have assisted home and property owners with disputes that arise in the event of a loss. A loss may be wind, water, hail, or fire damage to our residences or commercial properties as well as casualty losses to our automobiles, boats, recreational vehicles, etc. Please know that the insurance company has a fiduciary duty to handle your claim in a fair and equitable manner. While many insurers and adjusters treat their customers fairly, sadly that is not always the case. The first thing we always recommend is “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as my mother used to say! I strongly recommend that you sit down and actually read your policies. While you may not be able to understand all of the coverages, it is important that you understand the basics. Most particularly, make sure that you have replacement cost value on any of your home’s contents and have a separate rider to adequately cover your valuables, such as fine jewelry, watches, and silver. Finally, I would suggest that you shop online, read reviews, and compare one insurance agent to another. If you are not satisfied with the handling of your claim, call the Mike Kelly Law Group. We’re here for the people of South Carolina!

Have a great weekend!

 

Mike Kelly

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