Estate Planning Attorney inTigerville, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Tigerville, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Tigerville that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Tigerville. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Tigerville, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Tigerville, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Tigerville, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Tigerville, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Tigerville, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Tigerville, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Tigerville, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Tigerville, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Tigerville, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Tigerville, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Tigerville, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Tigerville, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Tigerville, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Tigerville, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Tigerville, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Tigerville, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Tigerville, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

CONTACT US

Latest News in Tigerville, SC

As tensions simmer, ReWa resolves to limit expansion into Northern Greenville County

Fred Kissling has lived in the rural, northern Greenville County community of Tigerville for more than 40 years.In a county that has seen drastic changes and development during that time, Tigerville’s quiet, agrarian lifestyle has been a form of solace for him and others in the community.But in the past few years, a simmering tension has been building between local residents and Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), the primary wastewater treatment service provider in Greenville County....

Fred Kissling has lived in the rural, northern Greenville County community of Tigerville for more than 40 years.

In a county that has seen drastic changes and development during that time, Tigerville’s quiet, agrarian lifestyle has been a form of solace for him and others in the community.

But in the past few years, a simmering tension has been building between local residents and Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), the primary wastewater treatment service provider in Greenville County.

The conflict began when ReWa purchased about 75 acres of land off Highway 414, including 50 acres acquired in 2020 through eminent domain.

“Lack of communication is what got things off on the wrong foot. [ReWa] never communicated things formally or clearly along the way, and that left the community to investigate and find out on our own.” -Jimmy Epting, former president, North Greenville University

ReWa promised that its goal was to build a new facility that would only serve to meet the needs of North Greenville University and a subdivision known as Cherokee Valley. The new facility, ReWa stated, would “not be designed to accommodate future growth in the area,” according to Chad Lawson, ReWa’s Director of Communications.

But residents like Kissling argued a new facility would only need a small fraction of that acreage, and questions arose as to whether the new treatment facility would be the first step in developing the area and destroying the rural beauty Kissling and others have come to love.

“It’s a problem, because what I would say is the overwhelming community desire is to just leave this place alone,” Kissling said. “But boy, sometimes it seems that is not well-understood.”

Lawmakers heard those concerns, and this past February, a group that included state Senator Tom Corbin, state Representative Mike Burns, County Councilman Joe Dill and members of the Tigerville Executive Community Committee sent a letter to ReWa asking for clarity on the true purpose of the treatment facility. The letter also asked for assurances that ReWa would meet the community’s “terms of agreement for coexistence.”

On Monday, April 19, lawmakers and North Greenville residents got their answer.

A resolution passed by ReWa’s board agreed to nearly every term outlined in that letter.

Those terms include:

Among those in attendance at a recent meeting with ReWa’s CEO Graham Rich was state Rep. Burns, who is now calling the resolution a “win-win” for both community residents and ReWa.

“I will say things developed a little slower than we would have liked,” Burns said, “but we have gotten to what I hope is the resolution of this situation, at least for now.”

That “slower” resolution Burns described was one of the main factors in driving speculation and uncertainty within the community, according to Jimmy Epting, former President of North Greenville University.

“Lack of communication is what got things off on the wrong foot,” Epting said. “What bothered the community so much was ReWa verbally saying, ‘Oh, it’s not our purpose to expand in that area. We just want to serve North Greenville University and Cherokee Valley.’ But they never communicated things formally or clearly along the way, and that left the community to investigate and find out on our own.”

As the president of NGU for nearly 25 years, Epting was part of the deliberations at the school to upgrade its sewer system just before he retired in 2015. One year later, lawmakers expanded ReWa’s service boundaries to include northern Greenville County.

For community residents like Heather Collins, who with her husband, Travis, owns 340 acres of family farmland right beside the land ReWa acquired, the clarity has been long overdue. Now, she just hopes the resolution means those agreements will be formally implemented.

“I really do want to find a nice coexistence with [ReWa],” Collins said. “I understand [northern] Greenville does need a solution, but it doesn’t need to be at the peril of the existing community.”

Historic Tigerville General Store renamed Wood's General Store

North Greenville University renamed the historic Tigerville General Store to Wood's General Store at a dedication ceremony. Left to right: Helen Wood, Willie Wood, Bobby Wood, and Laura Messer Wood.A 168-year-old part of the Tigerville community was renamed, honoring its historic role in the Greenville County community which is home to North Greenville University’s main campus.NGU’s remodeled campus store on the north edge of the campus is now Wood's General Store, celebrating the Wood family's ties to the building ...

North Greenville University renamed the historic Tigerville General Store to Wood's General Store at a dedication ceremony. Left to right: Helen Wood, Willie Wood, Bobby Wood, and Laura Messer Wood.

A 168-year-old part of the Tigerville community was renamed, honoring its historic role in the Greenville County community which is home to North Greenville University’s main campus.

NGU’s remodeled campus store on the north edge of the campus is now Wood's General Store, celebrating the Wood family's ties to the building which became a community hub when it was built by Tigerville pioneer B.F. Neves in 1864.

The building at 7850 North Tigerville Road, which NGU purchased from Willie Wood in 2007, was restored and reopened in 2012 as Tigerville General Store. This summer, the building was remodeled to accommodate the new campus store and serve as the NGU post office facility. Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, the store carries a variety of NGU-branded items, as well as school supplies and snack items. University officials saw the opportunity to restore the Wood name as part of the repurposing.

"If you forget your history, you are giving up precious jewels," said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., at an Aug. 11 ceremony to celebrate the new name. "For over 150 years ... this is the place where people would come, would intersect, and would have conversations. It's really community.

"That’' one of the things we learned in the pandemic. We need community and we need connections with other people," said Fant. "Places like this really are integral to the community. That's been the value of stores like this in American life."

The store was originally called Ben Neves General Store. The Wood family connection began in 1914 as John T. Wood became Tigerville's postmaster, and also operated the store for Neves. Wood’' son, T. Pralo Wood, purchased the store in the 1940s, following Neves' death. Wood's son, Willie, bought the store from his father in 1988 and continued operating it until the mid-1990s. He sold it to North Greenville in 2007.

Willie Wood and his three siblings, Bobby Wood, Helen Wood, and Laura Wood Messer attended the Aug.,11 event. Laura Wood Messer, a 1967 North Greenville graduate, shared remarks on behalf of the family. She noted that their mother, Helen R. Wood, followed John T. Wood as postmaster, serving in that role for nearly 47 years.

“We would like to thank North Greenville University for reconnecting the Wood name to this store," Messer said. "You have refurbished and strengthened its 168-year-old walls and prepared it for another century of historical significance to the Tigerville community. And for that we are very grateful."

Noting the university’s need to address shifting needs of students related to textbook purchases and mail services, Fant said NGU "realized we had the opportunity to consolidate that here and make this once again a consolidated crossroads."

Messer said Neves constructed the building "with wooden pegs holding most of the timbers together. That was 29 years before North Greenville high school/junior college/university even came into existence.

"Mr. Neves was a great friend and supporter of education. He helped North Greenville survive in the early years after its founding in 1892," Messer said. "Mr. Neves donated the original 10 acres of land for the school and $500 to help in its establishment. For many years he somehow always found the cash to help keep the school's doors open."

Diane Jackson, Principal Tigerville Elementary School Taylors, SC

When Diane Jackson became Principal of Tigerville Elementary School in 2011, she ignited a powerful impetus for change and reform that the school had never experienced before. One of the first things she did was to share the school’s and students’ ranking and performance scores with staff and create a sense of urgency that the school had to improve its ex...

When Diane Jackson became Principal of Tigerville Elementary School in 2011, she ignited a powerful impetus for change and reform that the school had never experienced before. One of the first things she did was to share the school’s and students’ ranking and performance scores with staff and create a sense of urgency that the school had to improve its expectations and performance with no excuses. Principal Jackson developed a unique and innovated vision, set a goal to become one of the highest performing schools in the state, and formed a strong leadership team of teachers, the media specialist, and support staff. Student failure was not an option and, to that end, Principal Jackson established high expectations for every child and staff member.

Principal Jackson exemplifies a student-centered, goal-oriented, and data driven approach to improvement. The concepts of differentiation and responding to every students’ unique needs guide Tigerville’ s instructional practices, educational planning, and allocation of resources. As a former teacher and instructional coach, she has a firm grasp of instructional and pedagogical best practices and models these with teachers and students in small reading groups.

As Principal Jackson said recently, “We have an ‘all-in’ philosophy.” Every adult in the building understands and has internalized Principal Jackson’s high expectations. They are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure student success.

One example of Principal Jackson’s focus on meeting the needs and maximizing the potential of every student is the “needs board” in the data room. The needs board is broken down by grade level and by content area within each grade level. The board contains the name of each student who is struggling in math, English language arts, science, social studies, behavior, or social skills. The list is fluid and is updated each Tuesday at grade level meetings with teachers and administrators. As students’ names appear on the board, measurable evidence-based interventions begin. The board also includes the names of high-performing students who require more challenging academic content. In addition to being beneficial to general education teachers and administrators, the related arts staff, resource teacher, school psychologist, speech therapist, and interventionists also use the board to help guide decisions, interventions, and collaborate with the staff. In addition to school-wide small group interventions, all students in grades three through five receive small group instruction with their classroom teacher and another staff member. Principal Jackson used the district’s flex funding allocation to hire an additional certified teacher and an instructional specialist to work in small groups and individually with students at all grade levels throughout the school day. As a result, the school is better able to meet the needs of all students, including high- and low-performing students through differentiated instruction.

Principal Jackson has successfully engaged the residents of a nearby residential community in a school/community partnership. This partnership was an integral component of Tigerville’s transformation. The residents, mainly retirees, support Tigerville educationally and financially. Principal Jackson arranged for training of the residents as weekly tutors and mentors using the school’s curriculum and instructional materials specific to each students’ needs and achievement levels. Through the residents’ support, Tigerville created a Smart Table lab so every student has access to devices. The residents also have purchased jackets, shoes, food, and Christmas presents for students in need.

When asked to describe herself as a leader, Principal Diane Jackson would use terms such as, honest, direct, fair, consistent, learner, and visionary. These words are traits that guide all her decisions and interactions whether communicating with students, faculty, parents, or community stakeholders.

Since 2011, under Principal Jackson’s leadership, Tigerville has undergone a sea change in school culture with lasting impacts on both student success and community perception.

ReWa passes resolution with conditions for Tigerville plant

Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) approved a resolution stating the conditions that it will construct and operate a treatment facility in Tigerville.The resolution, approved by its board Monday, comes after Tigerville residents asked ReWa's executive officers to sign off on a list of stipulations under which the c...

Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) approved a resolution stating the conditions that it will construct and operate a treatment facility in Tigerville.

The resolution, approved by its board Monday, comes after Tigerville residents asked ReWa's executive officers to sign off on a list of stipulations under which the community is willing to co-exist with the treatment facility.

ReWa purchased property off State 414 and has said it plans to build a new treatment facility to replace the outdated one that serves North Greenville University and the Cherokee Valley neighborhood.

ReWa owns the facility that currently serves NGU and Cherokee Valley. The site of its new facility abuts the university athletic fields and Famoda, a historic angus cattle farm.

Residents in Tigerville, a rural nonincorporated area of northern Greenville County, have said they don't want the sewer option in the community, fearing it will spur sprawl and add more rooftops.

ReWa's resolution addresses some of the stipulations under which residents said they would co-exist with the new plant.

Travis Collins, a member of the Tigerville Community Executive Committee who also co-operates Famoda Farm with his wife, Heather, said the resolution does sound encouraging in that ReWa is trying to at least listen to the community to save the Upstate as far as the small town, rural community.

"That's what we're hoping to do," he said.

Still, he said, the community has yet to see a response from ReWa to the community or the committee.

Heather Collins said the resolution is definitely a step in the right direction.

"Hopefully we have been heard," she said. "What the community wants is not to be impacted by a sewer treatment plant. We understand that there is need to North Greenville and Cherokee Valley and we're happy to accommodate our neighbor. But we are not opening the flood gates. By (ReWa) coming to the table to acknowledge that and work with us on it, I'm very, very pleased with that."

More:Residents want Renewable Water Resources to agree to conditions to co-exist in Tigerville

Conditions in ReWa's resolution:

Stipulations requested by residents:

From prison to doctorate degree: Upstate man shares story of redemption ahead of commencement

TIGERVILLE, S.C. —Cary Sanders may have seemed like an unlikely candidate for a doctoral degree nearly a decade ago. Let alone from a school he was once not welcomed at, North Greenville University."We are here in Tigerville and I used to terrorize this town,” Sanders said. "By the age of 17, I had been arrested 17 different times, and I was really worthless to myself and to the community. One time, I had a lifetime trespassing ban from here for vandalism and stealing. I ended up with a ni...

TIGERVILLE, S.C. —

Cary Sanders may have seemed like an unlikely candidate for a doctoral degree nearly a decade ago. Let alone from a school he was once not welcomed at, North Greenville University.

"We are here in Tigerville and I used to terrorize this town,” Sanders said. "By the age of 17, I had been arrested 17 different times, and I was really worthless to myself and to the community. One time, I had a lifetime trespassing ban from here for vandalism and stealing. I ended up with a nine-year prison sentence for armed robbery. I thought my life was over.”

After his release in November 2013, Sanders said what ultimately changed his life was being given a second chance, and those around him that believed he was worth investing in.

"For nine years now, I’ve been in higher education since my release from prison," Sanders said. "Now, I’m a homeowner. I’m married, I have two children and I’m a productive member of the community."

During his nine-year sentence, Sanders only obtained his GED.

In 2018, he finally earned a master's degree in management from Western Governor's University.

In 2019, Sanders' ban was lifted following an application for a scholarship to the University of North Greenville. Sanders was among the first two people to receive a full scholarship for NGU's doctoral program. The scholarship was given by the late Walt Brashier.

NGU President Gene Fant said the university has seen some remarkable stories, but this one echoes the idea that redemption can be found through education.

"No matter where you are, no matter where you come from, there is hope and change is possible,” Fant said.

NGU Graduate School Associate Provost and Dean, Larry McDonald, said education is also a reflection of hope and NGU is a place where second chances are given.

“I want to say that we live in a society that when people make mistakes, when they mess up, they feel like their life is over," McDonald said. "They’re hopeless, they don’t feel like there’s a path to do anything significant, but Cary’s story is one that there is hope.”

Sanders received a doctorate of ministry, and he said he wants to use it to continue to be a blessing to others through JumpStart and other endeavors. Sanders said for all of the men and women currently locked up, change can happen when opportunities are taken advantage of.

"I’m hoping those watching this tonight will see that they too can have a future greater than their past," Sanders said. "If they will make the most of the opportunities they have right now and just step into them.”

Sanders said he also hopes communities will continue to provide transformational opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals, because he said that can be the difference between productive members of society versus those who return to jail.

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