Michael J. Howell is a senior legal advisor with many years of knowledge and expertise. He is a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law in South Carolina, as well as a Certified Mediator in South Carolina Probate and Circuit Courts. He has built a solid reputation as an expert in all aspects of estate planning and probate law. He is well known for his leadership, discretion, candor, and handling of clients’ estate planning and probate needs.
Further, Michael has been involved in developing policy and serving on committees related to estate planning, probate, professional conduct, and ethics among lawyers. Hilton Head Monthly Magazine named Michael J. Howell one of the Top Lawyers of the Lowcountry for two consecutive years; first in April 2013, and again in April 2014, which was the last year they offered the rating. Avvo, an Independent Lawyer Rating Service, rates Michael as Superb in both Estate Planning and Probate Law - the highest possible rating.
Born in 1951, in Columbia, South Carolina, Michael has been a life-long resident of the state of South Carolina, and specifically Hilton Head Island, since 1978, where he relocated from Columbia after receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting in 1974 and his Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from the University of South Carolina.
Michael became a member of the South Carolina Bar in 1977, and became certified by the South Carolina Supreme Court as a Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law in 1992. In addition to being a member of the South Carolina Bar, Michael is also a member of the Florida Bar.
Throughout his career as an attorney, Michael J. Howell has consistently played an active role within the South Carolina Bar Association, South Carolina Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization, as well as his local Bar Association. The highlights of his accomplishments include:
Current member over the last 20 years and past Chairman of the Professional Responsibility Committee of the South Carolina Bar Association.
2018 Member of the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts.
Member of the 2017/2018 South Carolina Bar Professional Responsibility Technology Subcommittee reviewing rules related to attorney competency, and the emerging risks involved in using modern technology.
Member of the Board of Governors of the South Carolina Bar Association from 2006-2009.
Member of a 2002-2005 subcommittee studying and recommending changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers.
Member of a South Carolina Bar Committee that worked in conjunction with The South Carolina Supreme Court, as well as its own commission pertaining to the new Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers, which became effective on October 1, 2005.
Member of the South Carolina Supreme Court's Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization from 1998 until 2004; a commission which oversees the required continuing legal education requirements for South Carolina attorneys in addition to specialization programs for attorneys in South Carolina. From 2002-2004, Michael served as Secretary of the Commission.
Sub-committee Chair overseeing work related to multidisciplinary practices and changes to rules on what to do with a legal practice when an attorney dies, becomes incompetent, is suspended, or disbarred. Under Michael’s leadership, the committee published a manual for South Carolina attorneys who are appointed by the South Carolina Supreme Court to take over such practices.
Representative of the South Carolina Supreme Court’s Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization at the America Bar Association National Roundtables on lawyer specialization, from 2001-2003.
Joined the South Carolina Estate Planning and Probate Law Specialization Advisory Board in 1993, which interviews and assesses an attorney’s potential to become a Certified Specialist in Estate Planning and Probate Law. From 1995-1996, Michael was Chairman of the Advisory Board.
He contributed questions for the very first examination for South Carolina Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law through one of its first committee members and helped rewrite the examination while on the Advisory Board.
Michael was a member of the committee composed of probate judges and bar members who reviewed the South Carolina Probate Court forms, making changes as needed; and by 2013, the South Carolina Probate Code forms underwent significant revisions, becoming effective January 1, 2014.
Past member of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee of the South Carolina Bar Association, in addition to being a member of the complaints subcommittee. Michael and the committee worked with the South Carolina Attorney General’s office in investigating one of the most significant unauthorized practices of law cases ever brought in South Carolina dealing with the preparation of Wills, Trust Agreements, and related estate planning documents.
Life Fellow of the South Carolina Bar Foundation, which supports programs around South Carolina, designed to provide legal services to those who cannot afford them. The Foundation also supports efforts to educate the public about the law.
He is also a Legacy for Justice Member of the Florida Bar Foundation, which is a foundation similar to the South Carolina Bar Foundation.
Charter member of the Hilton Head Council of Estate and Financial Advisors and was President during the 2001-2002 fiscal year. In 2006 he was named a Member Emeritus, which is a lifetime position.
Member of The Hilton Head Island Bar Association for nearly 40 years. For the 2011-2012 fiscal year, Michael was the Program Chairman for Continuing Legal Education courses for local attorneys.
Michael is a frequent guest speaker on topics relating to Estate Planning and Probate Law. He is a published author of several articles including Disclaimer Trusts: a wait and see approach to estate planning in light of EGTRRA published in the November 2002 issue of South Carolina Lawyer magazine and What’s New and What’s Left in Sophisticated Estate Planning published by National Business Institute, June of 2003 for its manual Advanced Estate Planning Techniques in South Carolina, and also Ethical Considerations for Estate Planning Lawyers in South Carolina – A Study of Selected Provisions of the Rules of Professional Responsibility and a substantial update to What’s New and What’s Left in Sophisticated Estate Planning,- A Primer on Selected Estate Planning Techniques for South Carolina Attorneys both published by National Business Institute for its April 2004 manual on How to Protect Assets During Life and Avoid Estate Tax at Death in South Carolina.
In 2016, Michael was a speaker at the South Carolina Probate Judges meeting on the subject of using Special Administrators in Probate Court. This was his second presentation to the probate judges. The first concerned problems created when someone writes on or otherwise alters a Will after it has been signed.
Michael has been a member of St. Andrew by-the-Sea United Methodist Church since 1978. He has taught Sunday school for nearly 40 years. Past duties include being Chairman of the Pastor-Parish Committee, Chairman of the annual stewardship drive, Chairman of the Fall Festival, member of the administrative board, and member of the Long-Range Planning Committee. Michael was also on the Endowment Committee and co-authored the Endowment Fund Agreement.
Michael has acted as a volunteer attorney for people with limited means, through a program sponsored by the South Carolina Bar. He also provides pro bono, reduced fee, or free, legal services to local individuals and groups who either cannot afford an attorney, or cannot afford to pay the full cost of an attorney. Additionally, he is a volunteer attorney for probate matters with Jacksonville Area Legal Aide (JALA) in Jacksonville, Florida and supports JALA financially.
As part of his commitment to helping people with limited means have access to legal help, Michael supports the Lowcountry Legal Volunteers by sponsoring events that benefit them financially.
This website is intend for use in South Carolina, only. Although our attorneys are also licensed in Florida, this website is not intended for use in Florida.
No portion of this material should be construed as legal, accounting or financial advice. It is merely intended as general educational information and does not necessarily represent the planning that should be implemented in your particular situation.
Unless a speecific date is othewise given, all legal fees and/or special offers listed on this website are subject to change or being withdrawn at anytime without notice. However, once your appointment is made, we will honor the published fee for no less than 30 days.