by Melissa LaScaleia
Moore, Johnson & Saraniti is a local law firm, started in 2001, that is today comprised of five female attorneys. There are three senior partners: V. Lee Moore, Sarah A. Johnson, and Elizabeth J. Saraniti; junior partner, Angela D. Harrison; and associate attorney, Nancy M. Zovnic.
The firm practices in the areas of general litigation, estate planning, probate administration, family law, commercial and residential real estate, corporate, collections, community association representation, personal injury and mediation.
“We are committed to providing ethical representation that is responsive to our clients,” says Angela, who has been with the firm since 2012. “We look at each individual situation, and customize what we have to offer to meet our clients’ unique needs.”
Moore, Johnson & Saraniti can help clients to determine what they need to accomplish their goals and offer advice and solutions to get them there.
Lee Moore has been practicing law for more than thirty-two years. She takes the time to examine each person’s request more deeply, to safeguard her clients from any oversights that could land them into a quagmire at a later date.
Lee is originally from Pawleys Island, and went to high school in Georgetown. She attended USC, then moved to Florida and worked as a paralegal before returning to USC to study law. After graduation, she settled in Surfside Beach.
When starting her own private practice, Lee was looking for an attorney who handled real estate closings to round out the services her firm offered. In an unusual twist of fate, Lee’s father used to have breakfast regularly at the Litchfield Diner with the husband of attorney Sarah Johnson. Word got out that Sarah had the skills that Lee needed, and when they met, both felt it would be a good fit.
“Sarah and I joined forces first,” Lee says. “And then about a year after that, I was looking for a very detail-oriented person and I found Elizabeth. I saw her in the court room and decided she’d be the perfect fit.
“Amongst our entire team, we really meld a lot of areas of law, and that enables us to provide more extensive services to our clients. We cover areas that complement one another.”
One of the main areas that Lee focuses on is estate planning. And, she often finds that people don’t have the appropriate documents in place to cover their needs appropriately.
“Not understanding the ramifications of all aspects of an estate plan leads many people to believe they just need a simple will, but that may not be the case,” Lee says.
An estate plan requires an attorney to review multiple areas, including the possible need for either a will or a revocable trust, and a review of all assets, both probate and non-probate, along with a review of beneficiary designations.
“People have a perception that the probate process is expensive or cumbersome,” says Lee. “But in South Carolina, that process is actually relatively simple.”
According to Lee, an estate plan is more than just your will— it includes everything. A trust could be necessary to manage the assets for an underage beneficiary. Then, there are some assets that are not controlled by the distribution scheme in a will. If you designated a beneficiary to receive something, like a life insurance policy, that contract controls the distribution regardless of what your will may provide. The same thing holds true with annuities and retirement accounts.
Lee begins the process by looking at her clients’ current documents to confirm that they are valid in this state, and that they still accomplish her clients’ goals.