In a state like South Carolina, with so many people from other states moving in, it’s sometimes hard to navigate which legal team should assist with new legal needs arising after the move south. Many newcomers to South Carolina are moving their primary residence to the State, which can stir up various questions from income tax issues to enforceability of estate planning documents. Because of this, many individuals moving in will seek counsel to re-assess their estate plans. However, it can sometimes be hard for individuals to break ties with their original state of residence- and, in particular, with their long-time attorneys and advisors.
As a practicing attorney in South Carolina, I have heard clients tell me of their out-of-state attorneys’ advice on how to administer an estate or trust in South Carolina, or I have reviewed estate planning documents that were drafted by out-of-state attorneys for individuals whose primary residence is in South Carolina. While it may often seem more comfortable to stick with the familiar out-of-state counsel, it is important to keep in mind the benefits gained from employing local counsel for all matters involving state-specific law.
In particular, when dealing with estate planning materials- including trusts and powers of attorney- where South Carolina law will apply, the requirements for drafting and enforcing these types of documents can be very State-specific. Moreover, it is always important to keep in mind that the unauthorized practice of law in a state where an attorney is not licensed may land out-of-state attorneys in some hot water. South Carolina ethics rules, for instance, allow out-of-state attorneys to practice and advise on South Carolina cases only in specific circumstances, and often this will be under the supervision of a local, licensed South Carolina attorney. This means that even clients wishing to maintain ties with out-of-state counsel should discuss the employment of local counsel to handle all state-specific issues that arise. The best practice is to engage local counsel early on to avoid any pitfalls in drafted documents years later. Moving South comes with many changes, and changing legal counsel should be one of them. Contact Jolley Law Group if you need new counsel in South Carolina. We have offices in Columbia, Hilton Head, and Bluffton, S.C.