Resources re: Guardianship in South Carolina

I was reminded earlier today that many people don’t know where to turn for resources about guardianship in South Carolina. Cue Frequently Asked Questions in Probate Court.

In September 2013, the South Carolina Supreme Court posted three Frequently Asked Questions to the Self-Help Resources page on its website, http://www.sccourts.org/selfHelp/index.cfm:

(1)    Alternatives to Guardianship – http://www.sccourts.org/selfHelp/FAQsAlternativesToGuardianshipSC.pdf

(2)    From a Potential Caregiver or Potential Guardian – http://www.sccourts.org/selfHelp/FAQsFromACaregiver.pdf

(3)    From a Ward – http://www.sccourts.org/selfHelp/FAQsFromAWard.pdf

(4)    NOTE: There are also videos about both Guardianship and Conservatorship in South Carolina. While they  were produced a few years back, the law is still good.

These should be helpful. Additionally, a few other relevant links are listed below:

~rfw

New Resource for SC Seniors and Caregivers

The South Carolina Bar Public Services Division and the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging recently collaborated together with members of the South Carolina Bar Elder Law Committee to update the SOUTH CAROLINA SENIOR CITIZENS’ HANDBOOK: A Guide to Laws and Programs Affecting Senior Citizens. This project was funded by a grant from the Administration on Aging.

Senior Handbook Cover

This is a FREE resource and is now available online at http://www.scbar.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=QL4xW3AqA8Q%3d&tabid=204.

The print versions should start arriving in local South Carolina libraries soon.

This is a great resource for SC Seniors and/or their caregivers; it covers topics related to:

And an entire portion is devoted to a Community Resource Directory.

Even if you’re not yet a Senior or caregiver, you may want to look into some of these sections. The information is really helpful and easily accessible. Plus, it’s never too early to start planning.

~RFW

April 23rd – That’s the BIG day for Feb 2010 SC Bar Examinees!

ALTERNATE TITLE: Why I no longer receive Martha Stewart Living.

This Friday, April 23rd, is a BIG day for February 2010 SC Bar Examinees. That’s THE day they learn if they passed the bar exam.

According to the SC Courts website:

The results of the February 2010 Bar Examination will be posted on this page at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, April 23, 2010. Additionally, a letter notifying each bar applicant of the results will be mailed on Friday, April 23, 2010. Telephonic requests for information about these results will not be accepted until 9:00 a.m. on Monday, April 26, 2010.

For any of us, this is a HUGE day to remember.

And for those of you who are curious:

Why I no longer receive Martha Stewart Living.

I took the July 1999 SC Bar Exam. The exam lasted 3 days and entailed 2 days of state-specific-topic-sensitive essays and 1 day of multiple choice questions for the multi-state exam. It was a grueling time and I have finally overcome the tic when I speak or think of it.

(Seriously though, sleep is the best study aid! It allows you to concentrate and breathe – at the same time.)

At any rate, I began my job – not yet an attorney, but no longer a student. I always corrected people when they noted that I was an attorney - “not yet, I haven’t received the bar results.” Then August passed.  September passed uneventfully. Then came October. The beginning of the month wasn’t so bad.

(Historically South Carolina announces its July Bar results at the end of October and the February results near the end of April.)

By mid-October though, the nightmares began. Fleeting thoughts of job searches would pop into my head, seemingly out of nowhere. And by the last week of October, law students began calling one another, sending emails and commiserating. Rumors abounded. Then someone at the court said results would be announced at the end of the week. Thursday it was hard to concentrate. I told my senior attorney that the results would be forthcoming on Friday. She was glad I told her.

Friday was almost untenable. At 4:00 p.m. on Friday, I walked into my office, closed the door, wiped the sweat from my brow and picked up the phone. I pulled up the call-in number and tried to dial. I exhaled and hands-shaking, I dialed the number. There was a familiar sound on the line – what WAS that sound? Why wasn’t it ringing? Oh yes, that’s the busy signal. Phew! At least I was able to dial. I tried again. No luck. Now I was shaking. I went back into my senior attorney’s office – “May I take off for the rest of the afternoon?” She was kind and smiled “yes, of course.” So, at 4:10 p.m. I slunk out of the office, trying not to meet anyone’s gaze. I drove home and picked up the phone to dial the number. I dialed and received a recording indicating that the information had been mailed and that I should receive the information the following day.

I don’t remember the rest of the evening. But early the next morning, 6:00 a.m.-ish, I awoke with a lump in my throat. I padded out of bed and upstairs to stare at papers on my home desk. My husband awoke a little later and offered to make coffee and breakfast. What? Oh yeah, please, that would be very nice.

Neither helped a nervous stomach. My husband, who had survived this process several years earlier, took pity on me and offered to take me out until the mail came. “No thanks.”

He started puttering in the garage. That way he’d be close to the mailbox. I had asked him to get the mail – just in case.

Everytime I heard a car or truck move past our home, I fluttered over to the window and peered out.

Then, around 10:00 a.m., my husband informed me that he had to pick up a part for his car, but he’d be right back. “After all” he said “mail usually arrives around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s still early.”

I wasn’t convinced, but knew he had common sense at the moment. I acquiesced.

I tried to match his cheerful wave as I watched his car drive away, so with a toothy-grimace, I waved him on.

Toothy-grimace re-enactment

Exactly 22 seconds later, I heard a familiar engine. OH NO, it CAN’T be. It simply can’t be! Yup, the mail-truck. Sure, there wasn’t any sleet, rain or snow – but why couldn’t he be on time? Why early? Today of all days!

And I peered outside from the safety of my upstairs office. Mind you, I had left my glasses at my desk, so I had to squint. Squint I did! And then I saw him put a large manila-type package into the box. I burst into tears!

[NOTE: When you pass the SC Bar exam, typically you receive a regular envelope with a congratulatory letter. When you do NOT pass the SC Bar exam, typically you receive a manila envelope with an application enclosed.]

Back to the tears. I was inconsolable. My thoughts crowded:

  • Oh no, I’m going to have to look for a job!
  • How am I going to face my classmates.
  • Everyone will think I’m stupid.
  • OH NO! I studied for that exam like I’ve never studied before. If I can’t pass this one, what makes me think I can pass another?
  • THREE YEARS. Three years of my life. WASTED!

I could go on, but you get the picture.

I sat on the top stair. Nose running. Eyes flowing. Face buried in my hand. Sobbing. Gulping. Sobbing. My whole body convulsing.

I didn’t even hear my husband come in.

I didn’t hear him say “I’ll go pick up the mail.”

I didn’t hear him say “YOU’VE PASSED! YOU’VE PASSED! YOU’VE PASSED! – It’s a SMALL WHITE ENVELOPE! YOU’VE PASSED!”

He brought the letter to me. I pulled my head up. I tried to read the letters on the page, but they were all blurry. Why can’t I read? Oh yea, you have to stop crying. I did. Finally. My husband watched expectantly.

I felt jubilation. I passed.

Wait, what was that manila-envelope thing I’d seen the mailman deposit into our box? OH, Martha Stewart Living magazine with a paper cover. Sorry Martha, but I never renewed.

- RFW

SC Bar Foundation Gala Invitation from Shannon Scruggs

Dear Bar Leader:

Please join us for a great evening of fellowship and entertainment at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 11, 2010 when our Bar Foundation hosts its 4th Annual Gala. The event will be located at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The event will be a great opportunity to celebrate and to learn more about the SC Bar‘s charitable arm.  Chief Justice Jean Hoefer Toal will introduce the South Carolina Bar’s Nifty Fifty – the class of 1959. The South Carolina Bar will honor the Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year and the SC Access to Justice Commission will present the Ellen Hines Smith Legal Services Lawyer of the Year Award. Other special invitees include the Supreme Court of South Carolina and the SC Court of Appeals.

Individual tickets are $75 each and include an open bar, dancing and a seated dinner (it isn’t your typical rubber chicken, either!). There also will be a silent auction with sports memorabilia (Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Derek Jeter, Mickey Mantle, USC’s John Roche), spa certificates, music/film/TV mementos, beach stays, hotel weekends and more!

Gala 2010 is being held to help the Foundation in its efforts as the only statewide entity that funds the advancement of justice by improving access, education and accountability.

Please make plans to attend. For additional information you may RSVP via (803) 765-0517 or foundation@scbar.org.

Shannon Willis Scruggs, Executive Director

SC Bar Foundation

To view the invitation in pdf:   SCBarGalaInvite_2010

Chief Justice Toal Presents . . .

Recently Chief Justice Toal of the Supreme Court of South Carolina delivered two important speeches; one to the SC Bar at their annual convention at Kiawah, and one to the SC House Ways and Means.

The takeaway? The financial crisis is taking its toll on the efficiency of the courts. While this may seem like a “duh” moment to many and a “d’oh” moment to others, the repercussions to access to justice could be devastating.

Let’s support our courts and keep access to our courts.

-RFW

Rule 608

SC Appellate Court Rules, Rule 608. Appointment of Lawyers for Indigents

January 2009. The South Carolina Bar (SCBar) files a petition with the Supreme Court of South Carolina to modify Rule 608 so that no attorneys would be appointed to serve as lawyers for indigents without full compensation.

February 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina forwards the SCBar’s request to the South Carolina Access to Justice (SCATJ) Commission to study and make recommendations. The SCATJ Commission convenes the Pro Bono Committee to discuss the request.

Spring into Summer 2009. The SCATJ Commission’s Pro Bono Committee and its Rule 608 Work Group meet to study and review the Rule. The Rule 608 Work Group invites interested parties to meet to discuss issues related to Rule 608. The Rule 608 Work Group meets with the SCBar’s Board of Governors, the SCBar’s Rule 608 Task Force, and others.

July 15, 2009. The SCATJ Commission submits its findings and recommendations to the Court.

July 22, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina modifies Rule 608 regarding exemptions.

November 20, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina amends Rule 608 appointments to end the appointment of attorneys as guardians ad litem (GALs) in the Family Court.

December 17, 2009. The Supreme Court of South Carolina amends Rule 608, effective July 1, 2010,  adopting a number of the recommended appointments. The Supreme Court notes that it will continue to analyze and scrutinize appointments to determine whether further changes are necessary. Specifically the Court will continue to gather data regarding the appointments.

Highlights of the Amendments:

  • Modifications to the Regional List from which attorneys may be selected to assist in handling appointments in other counties – 6 Regional Lists (Region 6 split 1/2 year);
  • Reduced number of appointments in an appointment year – from 10 to 7;
  • Increased the pool of eligible attorneys by raising the age exemption to 65 years of age;
  • Technology advances – attorneys may attend certain hearings by telephone or videoconference;
  • Increased reporting requirements to the SC Bar so that the Court may accurately analyze the appointments by county and type of appointment.

And while the Court graciously thanked all who served on the Rule 608 study group, I too would like to thank the Commissioners, the SC Bar, Court Administration, Court IT personnel, and others who spent numerous hours reviewing data and rerunning data for our study. Thank you!

-RFW

For more posts on Rule 608, click here.

Dear New SC Bar Admittees, (11/16/09)

November 16, 2009

Dear New SC Bar Admittees,

Welcome to the Profession! And congratulations, you are now officially an attorney.

And here are my “starting out” tips:

  • When you are in your next meeting and someone notes that the particular issue sounds like it may have legal ramifications and then they say, “well, let’s ask the attorney:” that’s NOT the time to look around the room for the attorney. That’s YOU! (true story)
  • When a distant family member calls to ask you for an opinion about something that doesn’t exactly appear to have a basis in law, beware. More than likely they are looking for free legal advice. (again, based on actual incidents – note plural)
  • When someone asks you to do something that doesn’t “feel” right, take a moment to analyze what it is they’re asking. And if you still don’t “feel” good about it, DON’T DO IT.
  • Attend Ethics CLEs and take good notes. Then apply your notes to your practice. There’s a reason that we’re required to have Ethics CLE credits in addition to our regular CLE credit.
  • Read the Lawyer’s OATH. Now reread it. (see below for the Oath) Note that it is an oath, meaning that you have sworn/affirmed to uphold the charges within.
  • Follow the principles outlined in the Lawyer’s Oath.
  • In addition to the mentor you will receive via the Mentor Program, keep in touch with people you admire and seek them out for advice and company every now and then.
  • Network, for many reasons: (1) to stay in touch with colleagues, (2) to meet potential clients, (3) for job opportunities, (4) to keep abreast of change in your community and within the legal profession, and (5) for your health.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The SC Bar has many resources available to attorneys including Practice Management Assistance, Ethics’ Advisory Opinions, and Lawyers Helping Lawyers to name a few. If you need help, get it before you receive a letter from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
  • Participate in Pro Bono. There are many ways to participate through your firm’s program, county bar programs or via the SC Bar’s Pro Bono Program.
  • Take your role seriously, but have a good time. You are an officer of the court. You are a leader, whether you think so or not. People will look to you for guidance, especially when times are tough. Maintain your professional demeanor, but keep your humanity.
  • Remember, you’re not alone. There are thousands of attorneys still licensed to practice in this state. I’ve not yet met one who isn’t willing to give advice to or befriend a starting attorney. Even if you don’t “know” us, contact us. It could be the start of a lifelong friendship.

Best,

Robin

Lawyer’s Oath

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that:

I am duly qualified, according to the Constitution of this State, to exercise the duties of the office to which I have been appointed, and that I will, to the best of my ability, discharge those duties and will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this State and of the United States;

I will maintain the respect and courtesy due to courts of justice, judicial officers, and those who assist them;

To my clients, I pledge faithfulness, competence, diligence, good judgment and prompt communication;

To opposing parties and their counsel, I pledge fairness, integrity, and civility, not only in court, but also in all written and oral communications;

I will not pursue or maintain any suit or proceeding which appears to me to be unjust nor maintain any defenses except those I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land, but this obligation shall not prevent me from defending a person charged with a crime;

I will employ for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to me only such means as are consistent with trust and honor and the principles of professionalism, and will never seek to mislead an opposing party, the judge or jury by a false statement of fact or law;

I will respect and preserve inviolate the confidences of my clients, and will accept no compensation in connection with a client’s business except from the client or with the client’s knowledge and approval;

I will maintain the dignity of the legal system and advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which I am charged;

I will assist the defenseless or oppressed by ensuring that justice is available to all citizens and will not delay any person’s cause for profit or malice;

[So help me God.]

Want to Make Friends and Influence People?

If the answer is YES, and

  • you are an attorney licensed to practice in South Carolina for 5+ years, and

  • are in good standing without public reprimand from the Court within the past 10 years, and

  • no suspension or disbarment,

  • then you may want to consider becoming a mentor.

The South Carolina Bar is accepting applications for MENTORS for the Lawyer Mentoring Second Pilot Program.  If you have questions about whether you qualify or the requirements, the SC Bar has put together a comprehensive site that will likely answer all your questions. To view the SC Supreme Court Order approving the Program, click here.

And, you won’t be alone. I’ve already signed up.

-RFW

SRL Divorce Packet Approved and ONLINE

EXTRA, EXTRA! Read all about it!

The South Carolina Supreme Court approves Self-Represented Litigant Simple Divorce Packet.

Click here to view the ORDER and here for the forms.

The packets were created by the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission, SC Bar and SC Legal Services; developed with Court Administration and CFS Project; and approved by the Family Court Judges Advisory Committee. 

The packet is also available on the “Self-Help Resources” tab on the SCJD homepage

These forms are FREE and may be downloaded at no cost.

-RFW

Ask-A-Lawyer in Columbia 3.19.09

The South Carolina Bar Pro Bono Program is sponsoring an Ask-A-Lawyer television telephone bank and web chat on Thursday, March 19th., from 5:00 pm.-7:45 pm. 

The telephone bank will be held at WIS-TV Columbia at 803-758-1020.
 
To use web chat simply log onto the South Carolina Bar’s website (www.scbar.org) , click Ask-A-Lawyer and click to begin LIVE CHAT with an attorney.
-RFW