Part 2 of Robby Hughes’ video series on how to prioritize your actions at the passing of a loved one. For more information please contact the Law Office of Robert W. Hughes & Associates at 770-469-8887 or visit our website at www.hughespclaw.com
We are pleased to announce another successful outcome in a Georgia Probate Court for a very deserving client. Here, we believed our client was included in his grandmother’s Will after his father had passed away. Our client’s aunts and uncles believed that the grandmother deliberately omitted him from her Will. Despite our vigorous efforts to convince the opposing counsel that the Will included our client, we had to file numerous pleadings with the Probate Court asking that the Court interpret the Will. After months of legal wrangling, we secured a complete victory for our client. The Probate Court found that the grandmother included our client in her Will, and that he is entitled to his father’s share of the estate.
Once again, we have been able to defend the rights of one who otherwise would have been taken advantage of by his relatives. If you believe that you are being mistreated or taken advantage of in an estate dispute, please contact the lawyers at Robert W. Hughes & Associates and we will be happy to review your situation and give you an assessment. You may be entitled to more than you think.
If you are for keeping your local school board in charge of local schools, vote no to the Constitutional Amendment No. 1 this year.
The Georgia Legislature determined that many of our schools throughout the state are failing. Shocking that they have awakened to this decade’s old problem! The Legislature’s solution for those failing schools is to terminate county authority for the schools and let the State run the schools. This is a sad excuse not to approve charter schools which have proven to succeed where the previous school failed. This is akin to the federal government deciding it knows better than our state on how to handle education. Since the federal government became involved in our local education, schools have become more like daycare centers than the true learning centers they should be. The local administrators have been handcuffed by the federal government in how to teach and how to discipline. The State of Georgia is attempting to do the same here. Local citizens recognize if one of their schools is failing and can take action by voting in new board members, demanding the firing of school superintendents, etc.
Whenever the State takes over a local school, the local citizens are relinquishing control to the State of Georgia over how the local school is run, what it teaches and how it disciplines its students. VOTE NO to Constitutional Amendment 1 on this year’s ballot.
VOTE NO TO Constitutional Amendment THREE
The Georgia General Assembly, apparently upset that one of its members had been removed as a judge by the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC), has decided that the JQC is corrupt and does not properly discipline the judges in this State. The Legislature’s solution for the problem they described is to allow the legislature to choose the members of the JQC. This allows politics to become the primary driving force behind the JQC.
As it is established, the JQC is a model that many other states have copied. It has successfully removed many judges through the years. It has punished many more for conduct it found improper. The current JQC comprises seven members, two sitting judges, selected by the Georgia Supreme Court, three lawyers who have been working for at least 10 years and who are elected by the State Bar of Georgia Board of Governors, and two citizens, neither of whom shall be members of the bar and who are appointed by the Governor.
Lawyers expect judges to maintain the integrity of the bench. It is the cornerstone of all justice. I expect it when I appear in Court. All other attorneys expect the same. All trial lawyers expect that judges will comply with all rules of behavior. It is the only way we have an orderly judiciary and judicial system. It guarantees that people appearing in court receive a just and proper hearing. All lawyers ask that the scales be balanced as their clients appear in court: nothing more and nothing less.
The JQC must remain free of political influence. Only if politics stays out of the business of disciplining judges will judges remain free to deliver decisions based only on the laws of the State of Georgia. I urge you to vote no to Amendment 3 on the November ballot.
Part 1 of Robby Hughes’s video series on how to prioritize your actions at the passing of a loved one. For more information please contact the Law Office of Robert W. Hughes & Associates at 770-469-8887 or visit our website at www.hughespclaw.com.
If someone dies leaving an original Will in your possession, Georgia law requires that you file the Will with the probate court in the county where the deceased person resided. However, the law does not require you to file the Will for probate. This decision must be made after carefully considering what assets are in the estate. Often, people will have assets placed in the names of more than one person. For instance, a husband and wife may own their house as joint tenants with right of survivorship, or less likely as tenants in common. Likewise, bank accounts may be in joint names with both spouses or a parent and a child. If assets are titled with multiple names on the ownership papers, generally speaking, the assets will belong to the people or persons who live the longest. You rarely need to probate a Will to transfer assets with multiple people’s names on them. Some exceptions to this rule are beyond the scope of this paragraph.
Therefore, the first step you must take in trying to determine whether you should probate a Will is to determine the character of the assets owned by the deceased person. If there are assets only in the name of the deceased person like real estate, bank accounts, or investment accounts without designated beneficiaries; you may well need an Order from the probate court to transfer the property into another person’s name. This can only be accomplished by offering the Will for probate and having an Executor appointed.
There are methods for transferring small bank accounts to the heirs’ names. Also, muniments of title can be filed to transfer real estate into an heir’s name, but usually these documents will not be accepted by a closing attorney if the property is sold. Therefore, you are usually best served by having an Executor appointed and transferring the real estate with an Executor’s Deed.
WE CAN PROTECT YOUR 2nd AMENDMENT RIGHT TO KEEP AND BEAR ARMS
We are pleased to announce that we have a Second Amendment rights attorney in our firm. Shawn Owen is an accomplished marksman and gun owner. He is also a member of the National Rifle Association. He has recently gained the training and experience to advocate for individuals’ rights to keep and bear arms. He is accomplished at creating gun trusts for guns that must be placed into a trust.
Shawn can ensure that Wills are written properly to allow the transfer of firearms to another person under federal law. Some firearms cannot be transferred by an estate to an individual without federal laws being followed. Shawn is trained to ensure that the executor does not violate federal law when transferring certain firearms.
One of our clients recently exercised his Second Amendment rights in defending himself during a home invasion . We are proud of citizen action like this and urge all of our clients to exercise their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and their belongings. Call Shawn if you have questions concerning your right to keep and bear arms; to ensure that your will properly transfers your firearms to another; or if you are an executor or administrator and the deceased owned certain firearms that require special licenses or permits before you can transfer the firearms to another person.
Has Someone Nominated You to Be the Executor of Their Estate?
If someone has named you as the executor of his or her Estate, there are many considerations you should think about prior to accepting that appointment. Among them are:
- Is the Estate going to involve contentious parties? Are the heirs and beneficiaries on the same page as the matter moves forward? This, more than most any other item, should be a point of concern for you before accepting the nomination to be executor. As the nominated executor, you may retain counsel to assist you in offering the will to the probate court and defending the validity of the Will if it is challenged.
- How much time do you have to devote to handling estate matters? If the will is challenged, the litigation can take substantial time of yours and involve substantial financial resources from the Estate. As the nominated executor, you will be paid a fee for your time. Although it is not an exact calculation, you will be entitled to approximately 5% of the value of the assets in the estate as compensation for being the executor. You also can pay all attorney fees from the estate if your hire an attorney to assist you with the administration of the estate.
- Are you a beneficiary under the Will in addition to being the nominated executor? If you are a beneficiary under the Will, you must take extraordinary care to make sure that all of your actions are fair and equitable. Under Georgia law, you must make sure that where discretion is allowed, that you err on the side of benefiting the other beneficiaries rather than yourself. This is so even if all of you are to be treated equally. This normally arises in distributing tangible assets such as household items and mementos. Also, selling homes or cars to yourself or your immediate family can cause great concern if all beneficiaries do not agree with your decision or the price you have placed on the item. You can ask the court for approval before selling items if all beneficiaries do not agree.
If you have been nominated as the executor of a will, please call us at 770-469-887 to schedule an appointment to insure you are handling things properly. We work throughout the State of Georgia to insure that executors handle their duties properly. Remember, if you misstep, you may be personally liable for the money you cost the estate or a beneficiary.
CONSERVATORS HAVE A DUTY TO THE BENEFICIARY OF THE ACCOUNT
We are pleased to announce another successful outcome at trial. In our most recent case, a four year old child’s mother passed away leaving her a $100,000 life insurance policy. The probate court placed this money into a conservatorship account and placed the child’s guardian in charge of the money. When the child turned 18, she should have received the money remaining in her conservatorship account. Instead, she received nothing. Her guardian told her that the money had been spent on the child raising her. The court records indicated no authority to spend the money.
Our investigation revealed that the conservator had failed to fulfill her duties throughout the duration of the conservatorship. Further, the court had failed to monitor the conservator as required by law. At trial, we obtained the full $100,000 from the conservator and her bonding company in full satisfaction of our client’s demands.
Anytime a conservatorship account is established and the conservator does not properly account for the funds in that account, beneficiaries of the account have a claim against the conservator for the funds. A conservator by law must have a bond in place to protect the beneficiary. With proper legal representation, you should be able to recover the funds placed in your conservatorship account.
Please contact us if you have not received funds you are due from a conservatorship account. Also, if you are a conservator, contact us for guidance and directions on how to properly perform your duties so you do not run afoul of any of the laws here in Georgia.
It’s our pleasure to introduce our new video series, designed to help you get to know our firm – and our areas of practice – better. This is our first published video, if you have suggestions or requests for future videos, please let us know in the comment area below, or contact us any time.