Probate Lawyer in Summerville, SC

About The CDH Law Firm Difference

As seasoned probate lawyers in South Carolina, we understand that Estate Administration often involves sensitive family dynamics as much as it does the legal minutia involved in probate law. After all, a person's estate not only affects their generation but the generations that follow.

But when your loved one passes, their assets must be managed and distributed correctly. When mismanaged, disputes often arise between parties like the Beneficiaries, Trustees, Heirs, or Executors of a Will. Even when everything is managed the right way, arguments and misunderstandings can still occur, and even evolve into bitter legal battles necessitating probate litigation.

It stands to reason, then, that you should hire a probate lawyer in Summerville, SC to help. But the truth is, many attorneys don't have vast experience with probate and trust work. If they do, they aren't usually seasoned trial attorneys. That's what separates probate attorneys at CHSA Law, LLC from others - we have the ability to help plan your Estate and litigate estate disputes if they arise.

We are keenly familiar with local probate judges, courtroom staff members, and the related procedures involved with South Carolina probate law. Our intimate knowledge and experience help us successfully navigate the probate process to complete our client's cases quickly and efficiently.

But that's just one aspect that sets CDH apart from other firms. Understanding the importance of personalized attention, we also make an intentional decision to limit our law firm's overall caseload. This allows us to better focus on individual clients, many of whom remain with us for generations. We do not pass off cases to paralegals or junior associates but rather prioritize the attorney-client relationship. We value compassion and integrity, and our practice reflects those values.

Moreover, trust is one of the most important aspects of the attorney-client relationship. We work to create an open, friendly environment in which you can feel comfortable. After years of experience, we boast the skill and experience necessary to earn that trust - and that's a priceless commodity when it comes to probate cases in South Carolina.

Understanding The Probate Process in South Carolina

When a loved one passes away, it's natural to go through a time of emotional adjustment. However, it's crucial for the family of the loved one to face the financial realities of their estate. That reality includes the probate process, which involves distributing assets and settling the estate. A probate attorney in Summerville, SC is often recommended to assist during this time. This process isn't just recommended - it's often a legal responsibility in South Carolina.

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Steps to the Probate Process in South Carolina

01

Delivery of Will Upon Death: During probate, the first step involves having a will delivered to an Estate Administrator or to the probate court. The deadline to accomplish this task is 30 days.

02

A Personal Representative is Assigned: This individual is often named in a Will and should be appointed officially by the court.

03

A Notice is Sent to Intestate Heirs: If these heirs feel that they should inherit, they have a right to challenge this step.

04

The Estate is Inventoried and Appraised: This process must occur within 90 days of opening an estate. In some estates with valuables like jewelry, art, and property, professional appraisers may be needed.

05

Settling Accounts: During this step, the estate must pay any applicable taxes, ongoing expenses, or outstanding debts. Should the estate not have enough money to pay these debts, creditors must be paid according to South Carolina code.

06

Distributions: If there is money in the estate after debts are paid, those funds are given to heirs of the estate, according to the Will or the State.

07

Discharge: As soon as any claims are paid, the personal representative of the estate will file documents to close the estate. To make this official, the court will issue a Certificate of Discharge.

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Avoiding Probate in South Carolina

Though most estates in South Carolina must go through probate, it is possible to avoid. This happens when a decedent's assets are placed in a Living Trust prior to their death. In this scenario, beneficiaries must be designated in order to inherit the estate. Suppose there are funds that have been promised to beneficiaries via life insurance policies or bank accounts with "payable upon death" designations. In that case, those funds do not have to go through probate.

Assets subject to probate in South Carolina include:

  • Interest in an LLC, Partnership, or Corporation
  • Real Estate Held as a Tenant in Common
  • Property Held in Only the Deceased's Name
 Probate Attorney Summerville, SC
Probate Lawyer Summerville, SC

Assets that are not subject to probate in South Carolina include:

  • Assets Placed in a Trust
  • Assets Which Are Already Tied to a Beneficiary
  • Pension Plan Assets
  • Insurance Policies with Beneficiaries
  • Beneficiaries of Retirement Funds
  • Real Estate or Property with Right of Survivorship
  • Real Estate or Property with Joint Tenancy
  • Accounts That Are Transferable or Payable Upon Death
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Avoiding Probate: Yes or No?

Though it's not always possible, some families go out of their way to avoid the probate process in South Carolina. Doing so can help save money in the long run and also expedite the distribution of funds to heirs. By avoiding probate, you're also keeping personal matters private.

Because every person has different estate and probate complexities, it's hard to say whether avoiding probate is good or bad. Whether or not you should avoid probate depends on your unique situation. As a general rule, it's always best to consult with a probate lawyer in Summerville, SC, for honest feedback and probate assistance.

Typically, having a Living Trust or a Will in place will make transferring assets easier. A little prep ahead of time will make a world of difference when your loved one passes away. After all, nobody is ever prepared for a relative or family friend's death, but a compassionate, trustworthy probate attorney can make the process easier.

FAQsSouth Carolina Probate FAQs

For many families, "Probate" is a dirty term that involves heartbreak and headaches. And while the probate process in South Carolina can be complex and stressful, having answers to some of the most common probate questions can help put your mind at ease.

Q.

My family member recently passed away, and we're considering their estate. How long will the probate process take?

A.

The time it takes an estate to go through probate in South Carolina varies depending on a number of questions, including:

  • Does the deceased have a valid will?
  • Is the Estate complex or large?
  • Is the Will contested?
  • Have any lawsuits been filed?
  • Is the personal representative of the estate efficient?

When conditions are good, a small or simple estate usually takes about a year to close. More complicated estates may take longer.


Q.

My loved one mentioned opening a Trust to protect my assets. What is a Trust, and what Trusts should I consider?

A.

As is the case with most probate decisions, opening a Trust should be based on your unique situation and guidance from your probate attorney in Summerville, SC. With that said, a Trust is meant to hold property for your loved one's benefit. When a Trust is created, assets are transferred into the said Trust and managed accordingly. Though there is a common misconception that Trusts are reserved for the wealthy, just about any family can benefit from opening a Trust.

The most common types of Trusts used in probate include:

  • Living Trust: These trusts are opened and controlled by you while you're still living. When you pass away, the assets in the trust are distributed to the beneficiaries you choose. Typically, these trusts do not go through the probate process.
  • Testamentary Trust: These trusts are usually established after you pass away and are included in your will. These trusts must go through the probate process in South Carolina, though they allow for the distribution of property within a certain time frame.
  • Special Needs Trust: This type of trust gives financial support to your loved one if they are disabled.

When conditions are good, a small or simple estate usually takes about a year to close. More complicated estates may take longer.


Q.

What happens when somebody dies without a will in South Carolina?

A.

When a person passes away without a Will in South Carolina, the state decides who gets their decedent's assets. This is also called passing intestate. When this happens, usually only spouses, blood relatives, or registered domestic partners can inherit property according to intestate succession laws.

Relatives who receive the probate property of the deceased are usually chosen in the following order:

  • Living Spouse
  • Children or Grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Brothers or Sisters
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and Aunts
  • Extended Family

If you're in need of a veteran probate lawyer in South Carolina, look no further than CDH Law Firm. With years of experience in Estate Administration and probate cases, our team is ready to serve you with excellence and protect your interests. Have additional questions? We're here to help. Contact our office today to learn more about Estate Administration in South Carolina.

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Law is complicate matter. It can cause you a big problem if you ignore it. Let us help you!

A Caring, Confident Approach to Probate in South Carolina

Planning your estate is the first step to take if you want to protect your family, your assets, your well-being, and the fruits of your hard work.

At CHSA Law, LLC, our team of experienced probate lawyers in Summerville, SC, can help you navigate the entire Estate Administration process. Through creative legal strategies and a clear understanding of your goals and desires, we work together to make your asset and estate visions a reality. It's never too early to get your estate in order. In fact, estate planning is important for everyone, whether you're single or married, young or old, with or without children. If you're ready to protect your assets and be prepared for probate, contact CHSA Law, LLC, today.

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phone-number 843-936-6680

Latest News in Summerville, SC

‘We’re going to break our own record,’ Trump tells SC voters

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Former President Donald Trump took the stage at a campaign event in Summerville Monday predicting a record-breaking win in the South Carolina Primary as he campaigned for a second term as commander-in-chief.Trump is speaking Monday afternoon at Sportsman Boats in his first visit to South Carolina since the Silver Elephant Gala last month.He told the crowd that his last two years in office were the best two years South Carolina boat builders and South Carolina businesses have ever had, saying that boat...

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Former President Donald Trump took the stage at a campaign event in Summerville Monday predicting a record-breaking win in the South Carolina Primary as he campaigned for a second term as commander-in-chief.

Trump is speaking Monday afternoon at Sportsman Boats in his first visit to South Carolina since the Silver Elephant Gala last month.

He told the crowd that his last two years in office were the best two years South Carolina boat builders and South Carolina businesses have ever had, saying that boat builders couldn’t make the boats fast enough.

“When I left the office business was roaring like a 400 horsepower Mercury outboard motor,” Trump said. “But then the economy slammed into a pile of rocks known as crooked Joe Biden.”

He promised to end Biden’s “war on American energy” and reclaim energy independence.

“In other words, we will drill, baby, drill,” he said.

Trump said he won South Carolina twice by record numbers and pledged to do it again.

“We did phenomenally here. We’ve always done well here and we’re going to do it at a level that nobody’s ever seen,” he said. “So we broke the record twice. We’re going to break it a third time. We’re going to break our own record.”

He said he intends to “take back our country and we’re going to make America great again.”

Before Trump’s speech, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster told the crowd he went into the State House about a month after Trump went into the White House.

“And South Carolina has been booming ever since,” he said. “But then in January 2021, everything changed.”

McMaster said his administration has had to fight the Biden Administration “every day.” He cited the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for military personnel, and accused it of destroying the nation’s borders and the nation’s energy independence.

“From 2016 until now, [the Biden Administration] has been doing anything and everything they could, legal, illegal, ethical, unethical, unheard of, unprecedented, to do one thing: That includes two bogus impeachments and full-of-baloney indictments to do what? To stop one man, to stop our man from being president of the United States,” McMaster said.

Dorchester County deputies said earlier on Monday that Trump’s visit to Summerville would cause delays on Highway 78 from Summerville east of Berlin G. Myers Parkway to Jedburg Road at Mallard Road. Drivers in the area are asked to search for alternate routes if they don’t live or work along Highway 78 and are encouraged to use other entrances to neighborhoods in the area.

Traffic delays are expected to last through about 5 p.m. Monday but the delays could be extended.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Bugs, blood & beatings: Docs reveal claims against Summerville youth facility

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Newly obtained documents show dozens of complaints have been filed in recent years against a Summerville youth treatment facility, alleging there are bugs, abuse, dangerously low staffing levels, violent fights and blood and vomit smeared throughout the building.Mary Wilcox’s grandson spent time in that facility, Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health, earlier this year.“Terror” is how she describes her feelings about the residential facility, which is for children and teens ages 7-1...

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Newly obtained documents show dozens of complaints have been filed in recent years against a Summerville youth treatment facility, alleging there are bugs, abuse, dangerously low staffing levels, violent fights and blood and vomit smeared throughout the building.

Mary Wilcox’s grandson spent time in that facility, Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health, earlier this year.

“Terror” is how she describes her feelings about the residential facility, which is for children and teens ages 7-18 with emotional and behavioral issues.

Her 13-year-old grandson was admitted to the youth residential treatment facility earlier this year.

For weeks, he stayed locked behind the doors of the facility; for weeks he recounted the horror and violence to his grandmother; and for weeks, Wilcox said she fought to get him out.

“[He] was abused in ways that most parents would say would be the worst thing to happen to their child,” Wilcox says.

During phone calls with his grandmother and an in-person visit, he detailed vicious fights, sexual assaults and abuse.

“He was struggling to deal with what was going on, and he attempted to escape,” Wilcox said. “He was handled by a staff member who slammed his head into a chain link fence causing a gash, causing blood to drop down his face.”

Her grandson’s story is not the first troubling one that has been shared. Nearly 200 pages of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request for complaints against the facility in the past few years detail allegations of what some say erupts in the hallways and common areas and what hides, tucked away in patients’ rooms.

The dozens of complaints filed describe alleged bug infestations, inadequate staffing, filthy conditions, overmedicating and a prison-like environment.

One complaint says a staff member attacked a patient.

“On the video, it was observed that a staff member placing [redacted] into a choke hold and then it is observed on camera that same staff member punching [redacted] six times once [redacted] is taken down to the ground,” the complaint states.

Another states a patient was so heavily medicated they fainted. In a different complaint, an employee is accused of grabbing a patient by the shirt, pulling them down and kneeing them in the face.

“It does not surprise me at all,” Wilcox says. “My grandson communicated similar conditions to me. It is very alarming that this happened to my grandson; it’s alarming that children are in the facility still.”

One complaint alleges the facility frequently only has one nurse on duty with 60 patients and was so short-staffed they couldn’t provide proper treatment.

Another states there have been “numerous human rights violations” and claims patients are refused medical treatment and prescriptions.

“Supervisors explicitly tell staff to ‘treat them like prisoners because they are here for punishment’ rather than treating the patients with compassion as they go through treatment,” the complaint states.

Another complaint describes cockroaches and ants crawling around and blood and vomit smeared inside.

“[Palmetto Summerville] should be investigated,” Wilcox says. “They need to be checked out. They need to be monitored, and they need to be held accountable.”

The State Department of Health and Environmental Control is the agency responsible for investigating complaints against health facilities like Palmetto Summerville. It can also penalize them.

“When there is noncompliance with the licensing standards, the facility must submit an acceptable written plan of correction to DHEC that must be signed by the administrator and returned by the date specified on the report of inspection/investigation,” an email from DHEC states. “When DHEC determines that a facility is in violation of any statutory provision, rule, or regulation relating to the operation or maintenance of such facility, DHEC, upon proper notice to the licensee, may impose a monetary penalty, and deny, suspend, or revoke licenses.”

Last month, DHEC investigated two complaints against Palmetto Summerville, but no violations were cited, according to officials. In August, however, the facility was fined $19,000 for nine violations.

“DHEC executed a consent order with the facility in August after it was determined that it was appropriate to impose a civil monetary penalty for violations of Regulation 61-103,” the email from DHEC states.

Some of those violations, documents show, include failing to have a registered nurse immediately accessible by phone and available within 30 minutes, failing to notify DHEC of a serious accident or incident within 24 hours, failing to make sure residents were free from harm and failing to make sure medications were available for administration.

“[Patients] are further traumatized,” Wilcox says. “They are further placed into a downward spiral by being in these facilities.”

That downward spiral and that trauma, she says, prevent any effective treatment for the children who spend time at Palmetto Summerville and similar facilities.

Some studies show that could be right.

One study shows there’s not enough research to know if the interventions — therapy, activities and treatments — inside these facilities are effective or an effective use of money.

“We also don’t know a lot about what the, what treatments they’re actually getting because we don’t necessarily see the day-to-day life of these kids in these facilities,” Roderick Rose, an associate professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore and researcher in the study, says.

A common trend in the facilities: Medication. One study shows about 90 percent of stays at facilities analyzed included an antipsychotic medication, even though only 3 percent of patients were diagnosed with a psychotic disorder.

“You also see just a lot of medicating children,” Rose says.

For her grandson, Wilcox believes the best treatment has been being back home. He’s in school and playing basketball and is doing better. The trauma from the facility still lingers, however, and Wilcox says she prays other children can get the help they need outside of the gates of Palmetto Summerville.

“I am so very grateful that he is one child that escaped being in the situation he was in long,” she says. “Other children, as well, to be rescued, which is a most appropriate word. They need to be rescued from these facilities.”

Norman Bradley, the director of risk management and performance improvement for Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health released this statement:

Due to HIPAA patient privacy laws, we cannot offer comment on specific patients or their care.

Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health takes all allegations of abuse seriously and completes full investigations as warranted. Any and all allegations required to be reported to the Department of Health and Environmental Control have been done, and necessary action plans have been implemented to address the issues raised. Recent site visits by DHEC have been positive and have resulted in no findings.

Palmetto Summerville Behavioral Health is a residential treatment facility for girls and boys ages 7 to 18, in need of a highly structured, therapeutic environment. Our patient satisfaction scores reflect the care that is delivered by our compassionate and dedicated team.

Copyright 2023 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Residents sound alarm about apartment complex condition issues in Summerville

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Former and current residents at a Summerville apartment complex are sharing their stories, alleging bad communication from management and deteriorating conditions, after seeing one woman come forward about a mold problem.In March, Breanna McCalla detailed a mold problem that she says forced her to move her family out of the Latitude at Wescott.Madison Harris...

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - Former and current residents at a Summerville apartment complex are sharing their stories, alleging bad communication from management and deteriorating conditions, after seeing one woman come forward about a mold problem.

In March, Breanna McCalla detailed a mold problem that she says forced her to move her family out of the Latitude at Wescott.

Madison Harriss says she experienced something similar when she spotted mold in her unit.

“When I first saw it, I started off by sending emails to the front office just letting them know about it. I also made a couple of trips into the office to talk to someone as well,” Harris says.

Harris feels she did everything right when she first saw mold nearly a year after she moved in. She says it took months of emailing and visiting the office to get someone in her unit to check out the issue.

“And it was frustrating because all they did was paint over it with some KILZ and called it a day. So it didn’t feel like it was resolved because it came back shortly after,” Harris says.

Harris says the mold and mildew-resistant paint job was too little too late, and when her lease was up in 2021, she left but took her story with her and shared her experience with anyone asking about living in the area.

While current resident Casey Hendricks says she hasn’t seen mold, her communication problems started before she even got on the property.

“Within three days of our move-in date, they told me that we could no longer have the three-bedroom apartment on the first floor they instead were moving us to a two-bedroom apartment temporarily on the third floor, which made it really difficult with two little kids and a dog,” Hendricks says.

Despite paying her deposit and hiring movers, Hendricks’ family was in a space too small. When they were finally allowed to relocate to a 3-bedroom months later, further communication issues cost her hundreds of dollars. Her moving company spent hours sitting in the parking lot on the day of the switch, waiting for management to allow them into the unit. When the company ran out of time that day, Hendricks had to pay movers to come back.

Once inside, Hendricks says the conditions were concerning. She pointed out water stains and missing vanity draws and knobs.

“The vanity that was never fixed. It was like this when we moved in. I did do a walk-through with the property manager and she is aware of this as of last November and when I moved in and it still has not been repaired,” Hendricks says.

Now Hendricks is facing mounting water and sewer bills, more than quadruple what she budgeted as average cost, and she wants answers. But with no repairs to her apartment yet, she doesn’t think she’ll ever get the help she’s asking for.

“So many other apartments are filled with mold. It definitely makes you wonder what might be out there in your air ducts and stuff that you’re not seeing,” Hendricks says.

Harris says while she lived there, she faced other maintenance issues besides mold like Hendricks.

“It just felt like they really didn’t care to fix the problem,” Harris says.

Latitude at Wescott management declined to comment when asked to answer questions for this story.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

Halter to run for town council

A second candidate has announced his intent to seek the seat representing District 3 on Summerville Town Council.Matt Halter, a local business owner and engineer, said he decided to run for office because he believes his resume qualifies him to tackle many of Summerville’s current problems.“I also believe your representative should be elected by you, not appointed by a select few elitists and those currently in power,” he said. “It’s time we had more than just figureheads in our local government &n...

A second candidate has announced his intent to seek the seat representing District 3 on Summerville Town Council.

Matt Halter, a local business owner and engineer, said he decided to run for office because he believes his resume qualifies him to tackle many of Summerville’s current problems.

“I also believe your representative should be elected by you, not appointed by a select few elitists and those currently in power,” he said. “It’s time we had more than just figureheads in our local government – we need rock-solid leaders fighting for the best interests of our town and its taxpayers.”

Halter said that, over time, Summerville’s leadership “has bloated our government to the point of dysfunction” and has “recklessly allowed developers to overrun our town, bringing with them unmanageable traffic and a maze of red tape.”

“This is not leadership; it is a failure to serve the public interest,” he said. “While I support change and growth, the growth Summerville’s leaders approve needs to be in the best interest of our town. Some development can actually add to the value of our town, while apartment home communities, for example, add major traffic concerns, overrun our schools and produce housing that is not affordable, driving up the cost of rent and home ownership.”

A resume provided to the Journal Scene by Halter shows experience in government, the private sector and as a small business owner.

“I’m not an elitist in a line of politicians – I’m a regular citizen,” he said. “It’s time to bring strength and common sense back to our council. It’s time your family’s needs outweigh the wants of a privileged few. This is not about politics as usual; it’s about restoring a government that works for its people and bridges that gap between government and its citizens so that the government is ‘of the people, by the people and for the people. We need a government that listens, acts and delivers. I’m rock-solid and here to ensure Summerville thrives for all its residents.”

Halter has been married to his wife, Donna, for 32 years. She is an elementary school teacher in Dorchester School District 2 and manages the books for their business, Benchmark LDS.

Their son, Matt Jr., is a civil engineer, and their daughter, Lauren, is a registered nurse. Matt and Donna have two grandchildren.

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Matt is a graduate of Stratford High School and The Citadel. He became a registered professional engineer, land surveyor and licensed general contractor. His career began in Charleston, where, as an engineer and stormwater superintendent, he led projects and managed a team of more than 80 employees.

Matt went to work for the town of Summerville in 1996 as the town engineer and public works director. During this time, he wrote the town’s first development standards and founded the South Carolina Association of Stormwater Managers.

Matt ventured into the private sector in 2004, applying his engineering, land surveying and project management experience as the owner and president of Benchmark LDS.

“One of my more notable contributions was the design and construction of the Summerville Miracle League field on South Laurel Street,” he said. “This project wasn’t just about building a field; it was about creating a space where everyone in the community, regardless of their abilities, could come together and enjoy the spirit of the game.”

As one of the founding board members and president of the Summerville Miracle League, Matt, along with a team of citizens, raised more than $500,000 for the field, which was a joint venture between the town and private entities, which he said showcases his ability to “lead, collaborate and deliver.”

He has served on the Dorchester County Transportation Authority and was a multiple-term member of the town’s Commercial Design Review Board.

“In every role, I have demonstrated a consistent commitment to the betterment of Summerville,” he said. “My actions and achievements speak volumes about my dedication, making me not just a candidate for the town council but a true steward of the community’s well-being and future.”

Summerville family leaves apartment over mold, health concerns

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - A Summerville family says they moved out of their rented apartment at the recommendation of a doctor after months of seeing mold across the unit.Breanna McCalla says her family moved to Summerville in the fall, but when they signed their lease at the Latitude at Wescott, they had no idea they would be moving again in less than six months.“I think, a week after moving in that we noticed the first amount of mold up on the vents, which was the first thing that we noticed,” McCalla says....

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCSC) - A Summerville family says they moved out of their rented apartment at the recommendation of a doctor after months of seeing mold across the unit.

Breanna McCalla says her family moved to Summerville in the fall, but when they signed their lease at the Latitude at Wescott, they had no idea they would be moving again in less than six months.

“I think, a week after moving in that we noticed the first amount of mold up on the vents, which was the first thing that we noticed,” McCalla says.

She provided a screenshot of an email sent in October, alerting property managers about the mold, and asking that it be checked out and addressed. But McCalla says not only did nothing seem to get fixed, it instead got worse.

“I also have also lost multiple sentimental things that I can’t get back. I had a bag full of all my kids’ baby blankets that was covered in mold. You know, like baby items and clothing and things that you can’t replace,” McCalla says.

Staff at the Latitude at Wescott did not comment on the situation despite three attempts to ask if they were aware of the issue and, if so, whether any effort was made to address it.

Mary Templeton, a fellow in an Equal Justice Housing Works Program, specializes in renter cases at Charleston Pro Bono. She says tenants do have rights under South Carolina law.

“A lot of people don’t know their rights because South Carolina landlord-tenant law is not necessarily intuitive,” Templeton says. “So a big thing that I think that all tenants should know in South Carolina is just to make sure to document any issues you’re having. The more evidence you have of a problem, the easier it is to get it resolved, even if it does require court action.”

Parts of the South Carolina Residential Landlord and Tenant Act say landlords must “comply with the requirements of applicable building and housing codes materially affecting health and safety” and “make all repairs and do whatever is reasonably necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition.”

“I was constantly stressed about it with the kids, mainly with the mold. I mean, the other things we cleaned, and you know, it’s fine, but the mold, I know how serious mold is,” McCalla says.

She provided emails with management through December and January documenting continued mold appearances on vents and windows. She says the last straw for their family was when her daughter developed a persistent cough and her other two children also seemed to struggle with breathing.

“We’re doing doctors and taking antibiotics. She wasn’t testing for anything and we were starting to put the pieces together,” McCalla says.

On Feb. 10 at a follow-up doctor appointment, the provider made a note on McCalla’s daughter’s visit notes. It states, “Seek care at COEM (Center for Occupation & Environmental Medicine) for mold exposure along with treatment for cough symptoms.”

“The first thing she said was immediately you need to get out the only way you’re going to start feeling better and you know healing from this is removing yourself from the mold,” McCalla says.

Templeton says Charleston Pro Bono gets at least weekly if not daily requests for help with tenant issues. She says there are specific timelines for when certain types of issues should be fixed, and a professional can walk someone through their rights if they have the documentation.

“The more evidence you have of a problem, the easier it is to get it resolved, even if it does require court action,” Templeton says. “You always have to put a repair request for those things in writing. Landlords don’t have a duty to fix things unless they’ve received a written notice about the repairs that need to be made.”

While they are not in the habit of taking on mold cases because of the cost, she says documenting everything does a lot if you want to build a case to break your lease. Templeton says a mold case can be hard to prove but not impossible if people have the proof.

“With mold cases, if someone is looking into some sort of damages where you know, they think they’ve been injured because of the mold, their children are sick things of that nature…It’s very hard for legal aid providers to take on those cases just because we don’t have the sort of capital needed to kind of front the bill for those sorts of lawsuits,” Templeton says. “Typically, in those sorts of lawsuits. It’s my understanding that expert witnesses are needed, you know, who have to be paid. You get the property tested by maybe environmental organizations, things like that to see what the risk level is.”

McCalla, when breaking her lease, checked a box claiming to break through “no fault” not wanting to pay because of the mold maintenance issues. She says they have been in touch with a potential lawyer and are planning to get the family tested for mold levels at COEM.

“I know that I did as much as I could have I also wish I would have done more like I wish I would have been like in their face telling them like this is not okay,” McCalla says.

Copyright 2024 WCSC. All rights reserved.

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