MICHAEL J. HOWELL Resume
Michael J. Howell is a senior legal professional with many years of knowledge and expertise. Michael 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.
Over the years, Michael has established a reputation as a skilled practitioner 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 matters.
Furthermore, Michael is involved with developing policy and serving on South Carolina Bar Committees related to estate planning and probate law, professional conduct, and ethics among lawyers. In 2013 and 2014, Hilton Head Monthly Magazine named Michael J. Howell as one of the Top Lawyers of the Lowcountry. Avvo, an Independent Lawyer Rating Service, has rated Michael as Superb (the highest possible rating) in both Estate Planning and Probate Law.
Born in 1951, in Columbia, South Carolina, Michael is a native resident of the State of South Carolina. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting in 1974 and his Juris Doctorate in 1977 from the University of South Carolina, he relocated to Hilton Head Island in 1978 from Columbia.
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. Additionally, Michael is also a member of the Florida Bar.
Michael 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 the Hilton Head Island Bar Association. 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.
• 2018 Speaker on firearms issues in Estate Planning and Probate at the Annual Probate Court Bench Bar Seminar.
• 2018 Member of the Professional Responsibility Ethics 20/20 Subcommittee studying and making recommendations regarding rule changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers suggested by the American Bar Association.
• 2018 Member of the Professional Responsibility Law Firm Disputes Subcommittee studying and making recommendations regarding procedures dealing with certain disputes between law firms.
• 2018/2019 Member of the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts.
• 2018 Speaker at the annual South Carolina Judges Bench Bar Seminar speaking on how to handle firearms in estates.
• 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.
• 2016 Speaker at a meeting of the South Carolina Probate Judges Association 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.
• Member of the committee composed of probate judges and bar members who reviewed the South Carolina Probate Court forms, making changes as needed; and in 2013, the South Carolina Probate Code forms underwent significant revisions, becoming effective January 1, 2014.
• 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.
• 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 Chairman 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.
• Member of the South Carolina Estate Planning and Probate Law Specialization Advisory Board from 1993-1996, 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. The Advisory Board also writes the examination taken by those attorneys wanting to become Certified Specialists in Estate Planning and Probate Law.
• Michael 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 he was on the Advisory Board.
• Past member of the Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee of the South Carolina Bar, 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.
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.
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 and roles include: Chairman of the Pastor-Parish Committee, Chairman of the Annual Stewardship Drive, Chairman of the Fall Festival, Administrative Board member, and Long-Range Planning Committee member. Michael has also served on the Endowment Committee and co-authored the Endowment Fund Agreement.
In support of his philanthropic endeavors, Michael has worked as a volunteer attorney for clients with limited means through a program sponsored by the South Carolina Bar. Michael supports the Low Country Legal Volunteers nonprofit organization through event sponsorships and fundraising. He also provides pro bono, reduced fee or free legal services to local individuals and groups who cannot access an attorney otherwise. In addition, he is a donor and volunteer probate attorney with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid (JALA) in Jacksonville, Florida.
 In South Carolina an attorney cannot call or advertise that the attorney is an expert, a specialist or certified in estate planning and probate law unless the South Carolina Supreme Court certifies them. Specialists have to pass a special examination and have additional continuing legal education requirements. They also have to file yearly with the Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization and every five (5), they have to be recertified.