Posted in: Lawyers Probate, Estate Planning & Trust Section, Awards


Every other year the SC Bar Probate Estate Planning and Trust Section recognizes an attorney who stands out in the field. This year, James “Jim” Hardin III of Rock Hill received the Robert P. Wilkins Award for his years of service.

Hardin has chaired the Estate Planning and Probate Sections of both the South Carolina Bar and North Carolina Bar Association. He is also a certified specialist in estate planning and probate law in both states.

Aside from practicing law, Hardin contributed to the enactment of the 1987 Probate Code, the SC Trust Code and Trust Code Amendments. His work to help those around him extends into North Carolina where he contributes to publications and lectures through the North Carolina Bar Association.

On a national level, Hardin is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He served a five-year term as South Carolina State Chair and educated those in the probate field about the changing environment.

“If Bob Wilkins were still alive, he would be very gratified by the fact that there was an award given in his name and that a person such as Jim Hardin had been nominated to receive such an honor,” said Steven Johnson, a colleague who nominated Hardin.

Hardin took time to answer questions about his journey and offer advice to those who are entering the estate and trust practice area.

How did you end up practicing in the probate, estate planning and trust law field?
The senior partner in the 12-person general practice law firm that hired me after law school concentrated his practice in estate planning. Due to his expected retirement, the firm asked me to enter this field.

What advice do you have for a new attorney in the field?
Wherever possible put your estate planning clients at ease by using laymen’s terms in your explanations and avoid the use of Internal Revenue Code sections or other jargon of our practice area. Also always take pains to address the titling and beneficiary designations of assets not passing under the will, even if you cannot always charge for that service.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
The enjoyment of relating to people on a personal basis, whether they are addressing important decisions about their will or trust or dealing with the death or incapacity of a loved one.

On the flip side, what’s your biggest challenge?
Since about 2001, helping estate planning clients navigate the frequent changes, including future changes, in federal estate and gift tax exemptions.