Law Office of Paul Black - July 2018


JULY 2018


I f you are reading this, congratulations! You’ve just received the very first edition of our law office’s newsletter. I know from personal experience how confusing and intimidating the issues of elder law and estate planning can be. That’s why I’m excited to bring you this monthly publication, which is aimed at giving you the information you need to address all

The most important thing to know about me is probably that I’m a Georgia boy, born and raised. Excluding the four years I spent at college in New Jersey, I’ve always called the Peach State home. To this day, I love getting outdoors and enjoying all the natural beauty our state has to offer, whether that means hiking Arabia Mountain or digging into a fresh watermelon from my garden.

As some of you may know, my mother was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease in 1989. About 12 years later, my father suffered a stroke while I was going to college. He now resides in an assisted- living facility in Georgia. My mom passed away two years ago. The challenges and uncertainty my family faced throughout my life were what led me to become a lawyer and found this firm. I want to help people who find themselves in similar situations. Today I find great satisfaction in helping families, caregivers, and their loved ones across Georgia. Issues like planning for Medicaid eligibility, completing health care directives, planning for a loved one with special needs, and navigating guardianship proceedings present many emotional and legal challenges. Having an expert to guide you through the process can make all the

of life’s “what ifs.” As a bonus, I’ll share some of my favorite recipes and Georgia travel

I love my job because I get to help others return to what they

locations. Who says learning can’t be fun?

“The challenges and uncertainty my family faced throughout my life were what led me to become a lawyer and found this firm.”

enjoy doing. Whether it’s showing a young couple how to build a rock-solid estate plan for their children or advising an elder orphan who is putting together her decision-making team, much

I’ll also be sharing some of my thoughts

and experiences right here on the cover, because I believe in the role of personal relationships in legal representation. I sure wouldn’t want my lawyer to be “just some guy.” My clients often come to me with deeply personal matters; they deserve to know who I am and where I come from. Trust is a big part of the job, after all.

difference in the world. If I can help you find clarity and peace of mind in these challenging circumstances, I know I’ve done my job.

of being an elder law and estate planning attorney boils down to putting people’s worries at ease. As someone who has cared for two parents with significant health challenges, I know just how valuable a little peace of mind can be.

-Paul Black

Got estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at with Asked and Answered in the subject line. Your identity will be kept confidential. The opinions offered in this column are not intended to replace or substitute for any financial, medical, legal or other professional advice. | 1

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WHERE ESSENTIAL OILS COME FROM Sourcing the Sweet-Smelling Stuff

Call it a pseudoscientific fad or a medical revolution; either way, essential oils are more popular today than they have ever been. Though research on the efficacy of lavender, ginger, and the dozens of other sweet-smelling oils is conflicting at best, people are using them at an astonishing rate. In fact, according to Stratistics MRC, essential oils were a $5.91 billion industry in 2016 and are expected to reach $12.85 billion by 2023. Whether you’re an essential oil acolyte or fly into a rage at the faintest hint of bergamot, your mind is probably already made up about aromatherapy. The question remains, though: Where does all this delicious-smelling stuff come from? Most essential oils are derived from a process called steam distillation . Soon after harvest, the plants are placed on a mesh inside a sealed still, into which steam is injected. As the steam rises and envelops the plant, it breaks it down and lifts its constituent components up through a tube and into a condenser. The condenser cools the resulting vapor and collects it in liquid form at the bottom. Since essential oils do not mix with water, they float on the surface, where they’re siphoned off, bottled, and shipped

off to a distributor. There are other methods, such as expression (aka cold pressing), but because steam distillation is so easy to do, most essential oils you see on the shelf will have gone through this process. LAVENDER essential oil is harvested from sheaves of lavandula angustifolia , that purple herb you see all over gardens across the United States. There are lavender farms all over the world, from California to Japan to Brazil, but the biggest world producer of lavender is, interestingly, Bulgaria. TEA TREE oil comes from the leaves of melaleuca alternifolia , commonly known as narrow-leaved paperbark, a short, bushy tree that produces white, fluffy flowers in the spring. The trees are endemic to Australia, but today are usually farmed in New South Wales or Queensland. BERGAMOT is distilled from the peels of lime-green bergamot oranges, or citrus bergamia . Most of it comes from coastal areas around the Ionian Sea. Whatever you do with it, use it sparingly on your skin — it can amplify skin damage from the sun!

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Dear Paul,

Dear Anxious,

2. Think about the long-term impact of your loan not just on the recipient but on your family as a whole. Would it enable this grandchild to achieve something otherwise unobtainable or just help them skip a few years of saving? And would it lead to resentment among other children or grandchildren who didn’t receive such generosity? 3. Last but not least, if you do decide to lend to an adult child and have your child then gift money to your grandchild, be aware that the IRS has rules about “intra-family loans,” including establishing a minimum interest rate (the “approved federal rate”). If you do decide to make this loan and need help crafting a loan document that is compliant and addresses all of the moving parts, let me know.

I am a grandmother in my late 70s. Between decades of frugal living, saving, investing, and my late husband’s life insurance that paid out when he died suddenly five years ago, I am now living comfortably with no financial worries on the horizon. One of my grandchildren graduated from college with a lot of student debt. He is now looking to buy his own house. Both he and my daughter (his mother) have asked me if I can provide money to help him buy his first house. Do you think this is a good idea? How might I proceed?

First and foremost, congratulations on your financial stability. I don’t know enough about your financial situation to answer your question definitively, but I will make a few observations: 1. If you ever need it, long-term care can be really expensive. The average cost of assisted living facilities in rural Georgia is $3,500–$5,000 per month. Skilled nursing costs in your area average $5,500–$7,000 per month. In metro Atlanta, those prices can climb higher. Do you have enough money socked away to pay for several years of care? If not, do you have a long- term care insurance policy in place? I’m not a fearmonger, but these are the big scary “what if ” questions that we have to think through before you can make a truly informed decision.

– Anxious Granny

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3 Documents You Need to Have in Place HAVE YOU PLANNED FOR THE FUTURE?

Very recently, I spoke with a young man whom I coached a decade ago when he ran cross-country at Chattahoochee High School. He is now in his late 20s and remains smart, hardworking, and forward-thinking. He is newly married, and he and his wife (who is of similar disposition) called me to ask a question that many young (and many not-so-young) clients ask: “What kind of planning documents do we need to have in place?”

My recommendations were simple:

• You need an Advance Directive for Health Care . It will empower the people of your choice to make health care decisions if you are ever incapable of communicating for yourself. Just as importantly, it will compel you to have the tough “what if ” conversations about life and death decisions most of us don’t otherwise have.

• You need a Durable Financial Power of Attorney . It will empower the people of your choice to make financial decisions if and when you cannot do so.

The majority of people who reach out to us with estate and incapacity planning needs would be well-served just by having these three documents in place. The majority of crises our practice addresses usually stem from the absence of at least one of these three documents. Ask yourself: “Do I have these three key documents in place? Are they recent? Do they reflect my wishes? Do I have a team of decision-makers?” If you can’t answer these questions affirmatively, now is the time to take action.

You need a Last Will & Testament . It empowers the people of your choice to make decisions about who receives what after your death. In the future, if you have children, it will specify who will care for them if you cannot do so and specify how any money for their needs will be disbursed.


As an elder law and estate planning attorney, scarcely a weekday goes by that I don’t speak with a client about how to plan for the future and meet care needs after being affected by Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. “In Pursuit of Memory: The Fight Against Alzheimer’s” by Joseph Jebelli is both personal and global. He details his grandfather’s experience with the disease and how it led Jebelli on a detective-novel-style quest across the world to speak with and share the work of some of the world’s leading Alzheimer’s disease researchers. Not all readers will want the textbook-worthy details of dementia, such as beta-amyloid plaques, tangles, neurotransmitter loss, and cell death. But if you or a loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and you hunger to know more about what it is and how it occurs, this book does so with curiosity, depth, and great humanity. BOOK REVIEW ‘IN PURSUIT OF MEMORY: THE FIGHT AGAINST ALZHEIMER’S’



• • • • •

1 pound potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces 3/4 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano


1. Heat the oven to 425 F.

2. In a bowl, coat potatoes with rosemary, salt, and oil.

3. Spread potatoes across a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Using a metal spatula, combine cheese with potatoes and bake for 20 more minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through. | 3

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Decatur Office Location: Main Location One West Court Square, Suite 750 | Decatur, Georgia 30030



Why I Do What I Do



Where Do Essential Oils Come From? Asked and Answered 3 Planning Documents Everyone Needs Crispy Parmesan Potatoes Book Review: ‘In Pursuit of Memory’



A One-of-a-Kind Monument


VISIT THE GEORGIA GUIDESTONES One of the State’s Most Unique Landmarks

Looking at the Georgia Guidestones, it’s easy to mistake them for relics from antiquity. The six giant granite slabs, weighing over 200,000 pounds, look more like Stonehenge than any structure created in the 20th century. But the Georgia Guidestones are actually relatively young, having been created in 1980. They may not be centuries old, but they have become one of Georgia’s most fascinating and unique landmarks. To this day, not much is known about the group of people who commissioned the structure; they contacted Elberton Granite Finishing Company through a pseudonymous representative, Robert C. Christian. Realizing that

this wasn’t your average project, the company quoted a price well beyond what they thought was reasonable. When the mysterious group didn’t balk at the price, Elberton Granite got to work. The resulting sculpture is something to behold. It has a functional purpose as a working calendar, clock, and compass. Additionally, it contains inscriptions in eight languages outlining guidelines for a global, environmentally conscious society. Among the 10 points are “Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts” and “Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.” Given their cryptic nature and anonymous benefactors, it’s no surprise that the stones have become fodder for conspiracy theorists. Some argue that they were made in a Cold War-era panic, while others call them satanic totems. While we’ll probably never know the true purpose of the Georgia Guidestones, it doesn’t make them any less fascinating. They are located in Elberton, 90 miles east of Atlanta. Check them out for yourself. They’re truly one of a kind.

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