Law Office of Paul Black - December 2019


December 2019

How to Give the Gift of Giving GROWING GENEROSITY

H ow do we cultivate generosity in this day and age? This is a question I find myself asking more and more. Certainly, a few big challenges face the world today that I wouldn’t have fully understood as a kid: Climate change, the trade wars and economic uncertainty, and the erosion of the middle class are existential threats we, as individuals, only have so much power to change. It’s easy to draw inward and become fatalistic about the future, which is why I think we need generous action now more than ever. And what better time to start than the season of giving? Since I was about 12 years old, my parents would ask me and my sister what local charities we wanted to support.

thing, but heading out of our middle- class neighborhood and seeing the impact was another. My father

But is this the only way to teach generosity? Do you have to start your kids off at a young age? I don’t think so. I believe giving is a lot like exercise — we all have the capacity to do it at any time, but it’s just a challenge to get started. I have three approaches that can help. First, remember giving doesn’t have to be monetary. Donating your time, your talents, or your treasure can all make a difference. Second, give to causes you believe in strongly — you’ll be more motivated to keep up your support long term. And finally, remember local organizations can still have a big impact. Hunger may be a global issue, but giving to your local food bank helps reduce the number of hungry people in your area. We can all fret over the way the world is changing and the threats of the future, but will that help? I say if we all take a deep breath and do the best we can

was very involved with the Salvation Army in those days, personally driving aid deliveries to communities in need during the holidays. He’d take me with him, and I can’t overstate the effect it had on me.

While I had a pretty upper middle class existence growing up as the son of an attorney and schoolteacher in Albany, Georgia, my parents instilled in me early the importance of volunteering and giving. Bringing boxes of food to poor families each Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly put my privilege into perspective. Before going on those deliveries, I was so preoccupied with what I didn’t have. My father had given me the gift of perspective. Thanks to him, I continue to actively give to charitable causes and volunteer my time to this day.

Maybe this isn’t how most kids would want to kick off the holidays, but I’m so glad this was our tradition. It helped shape who I am today, and the impact I have on those in my community.

“I believe giving is a lot like exercise —we all have the capacity to do it at any time, but it’s just a challenge to get started.”

to give back, we’ll make a better tomorrow. Give it a chance.

Discussing where our family’s dollars could do the most good was one

-Paul Black

Do you have 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 any financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. | 1

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THERE’S NO EXPIRATION DATE ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP The Joys of Starting a Business After You ‘Retire’

As a nation, America is getting older. By 2030, 20% of Americans will be 65 or older. With people living longer than ever before and the baby boomers approaching retirement age en masse, older adults will continue to have a massive impact on the American economy at large. Normally, we think of seniors as people who cash in on the hard work they’ve already accomplished. Many young people even worry Social Security will be wiped out by the time they reach retirement age. But who’s to say older adults can’t contribute to the economy? If you’ve ever tried to change jobs late in your career or pick up some part-time work after retirement, you know it’s hard to be hired as a senior. Quartz recently called seniors “the economy’s most underused natural resource.” Until more employers understand the value and potential of older workers, entrepreneurship remains the most viable avenue for seniors wanting to work after their primary career has ended. There are a number of reasons why seniors find creating their own business to be rewarding and why they tend to succeed when they do.

Unlike younger people, who often become business owners in an attempt to make a fortune, older entrepreneurs can be content with small, sustainable micro-businesses. They also approach their businesses with a wealth of experience that can’t be purchased. As a result, 70% of ventures founded by older entrepreneurs are still open five years later, more than double the rate of the general population. With so much potential to be found in senior-run businesses, it’s no surprise that organizations are rushing to empower older adults with the tools they need to succeed. Senior Planet, a coworking space for seniors with outposts nationwide, teaches classes on skills like website creation in a space that makes older learners feel welcome and comfortable. On top of being an important economic driver, entrepreneurship can be a wonderful way for seniors to generate meaning and value in their lives. It’s never too late to start the business of your dreams.

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Hi Paul, My mother, who has been a widow for 10 years since Dad died, just passed away last month at 88 years old. We think her last will and testament and engagement ring might be in her safety deposit box, but we don’t have a key. The bank told us it could not allow us access to the safety deposit box without some sort of order from the probate court. We are confused because we don’t want to go to probate court until we have Mom’s will in our hands. Can you explain what this is all about? –J.B. Dear J.B., First and foremost, I am sorry for your loss. Secondly, please know this situation is common and we address it for clients quite often. Probate courts in Georgia (and in most states, for that matter) have a form (often called a Petition for Authority to Open Safety Deposit Box) that is used when the safety deposit box owner dies or

loses mental capacity such that someone else needs to locate important items in the safety deposit box. In Georgia, this petition requires that you identify the bank branch where you believe the safety deposit box is located and explain what items or documents you think might be contained in the box. The relevant statute here in Georgia (OCGA 7-1-356) states that once the probate court issues an order granting someone the authority to open and examine the contents of the safety deposit box, the bank will then allow that person to examine the box in the presence of a bank officer. Any document purporting to be a last will and testament (or arguably a trust), a deed to a burial plot, or a life insurance policy shall be turned over to that individual. In contrast, other items (including jewelry, certificates of deposits, savings bonds, and even family pictures) are considered assets of the estate and cannot be released to the individual in question. Rather, the

bank will allow the authorized person five days to take inventory of these items in the presence of a bank employee and will not release these items until someone is appointed as the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate. This can be a very disappointing (or frustrating) process, as many of these searches end up with empty safety deposit boxes. It may also require that you pay not once, not twice, but three times: once to the attorney for preparing the petition (although many folks can prepare the petition themselves, and we don’t charge for it if we are hired to help probate the estate), once to the probate court to file the petition, and once to the bank if the lock on the safety deposit box must be drilled out in order to open the safety deposit box. If we can help you with this process, please let us know. Until then, for the rest of us, the way to avoid this situation is to always name a co-owner on your safety deposit box and make sure they have a key.

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I’M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS 4 Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate for the Holidays

Considering all the wrapping paper, decorations, and cards that fill our homes

and poinsettias are all attractive choices that can, with proper care, last the whole year. DARE TO DIY If you have the time, scrap paper can be cut into beautiful ornaments, and old Christmas cards can be punched into leaf shapes and used to create lovely wreaths. Don’t forget to save your wrapping paper and ribbon scraps for next year! ornaments or an elaborate candle centerpiece, check nearby thrift stores before you head to Walmart. They’re often stocked to the brim with Christmas decor during the holidays, and you can probably get something you’ll love for pennies on the dollar! Plus, by recycling these previously used decorations, you’ll be keeping them out of the landfill. THRIFT SHOP TILL YOU DROP If you have your heart set on glitzy glass


Remember the cranberry and popcorn garlands of Christmases past? It’s time to bring them back! Pair handmade garlands with iced salt dough and gingerbread ornaments for a fully edible, compostable tree decorating scheme. A bowl of patterned pomanders (oranges studded with cloves) and pinecones makes for a beautiful centerpiece that smells festive, too.

during the holiday season, it’s no surprise that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is not only the most cheerful but also the most wasteful time of year. According to Stanford University, Americans generate 25% more trash during the

holidays than any other period — that’s the equivalent of one million extra tons per week, which is enough to convince anyone worried about the health of the planet to cut back on the tinsel and fake snow. Luckily for the eco-conscious, celebrating the season without adding too much to the landfill is totally possible. To start your own green Christmas traditions, try these tricks:

GO WILD WITH PLANTS If you like to decorate your stair rail or mantlepiece, try replacing the shiny plastic and fake-foliage garlands with real holly and pine boughs or bringing festive potted plants indoors. Small evergreen trees, holly bushes,

‘STEAKS’ Roasted Cauliflower

Inspirational MOMENT


• • • • • • • • •

1 large head cauliflower 2 cups Roma tomatoes 1 red onion, quartered

1/2 lb green beans, ends trimmed

Kosher salt

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup balsamic vinegar

“Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.”

1/4 cup brown sugar

Parsley leaves, for garnish


1. Heat oven to 400 F. 2. Trim the leaves and stem from cauliflower, but do not break down further. (It should sit like a dome.) In the center of a large baking dish, place the cauliflower and surround it with tomatoes, onion, and green beans, and season with salt and olive oil. 3. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan to medium-high, and whisk together vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low simmer, letting sauce reduce for 15 minutes. 4. Coat cauliflower in glaze and reserve extra for basting.

–Isaiah 58:10

5. Roast for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. 6. Quarter cauliflower and serve with veggies.

Inspired by Delish | 3

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




How to Give the Gift of Giving


The Power of Senior Entrepreneurship Asked and Answered 4 Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate for the Holidays


Roasted Cauliflower ‘Steaks’

Inspirational Moment


Views From Brasstown



Climb Brasstown Bald


Towering above nearby Blairsville, Brasstown Bald looks out over the rolling mountains of southern Appalachia. At 4,784 feet above sea level, it’s the highest mountain in Georgia, and the view doesn’t disappoint. If you’re planning any outdoor excursions for the new year, then this forested landmark belongs near the top of your list. LOST IN TRANSLATION

Today, Brasstown Bald attracts visitors from Georgia and the Carolinas alike thanks to its stunning vantage point and many outdoor activities. From archaeological sites to concerts at the nearby Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, there really

is something for everyone at this popular destination. That’s to say nothing for the hiking trails that wind up and around the mountain itself. In fact, a young Paul Black used to have to run up these steep trails thanks to his cross-country team. TAKING IN THE WONDER Those who do make it to the top of Brasstown Bald will find themselves surrounded by an incredible vista. The observatory at the top of the mountain

The name “Brasstown” may confuse many visitors. The bald and surrounding Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest are brilliantly green most times of the year, a far cry from anything close to looking like brass. That’s because the

name comes from a mistaken translation of what the Cherokee people called the region. European settlers mistook the word Itse’yĭ (“Place of Fresh Green”) for the word Ûňtsaiyĭ, which means “brass.” And thus, the name has stuck for hundreds of years.

offers 360-degree views of the surrounding forests. On a clear day, you can see four separate states from this one spot. Bring a good camera, and make your trip to this Georgia landmark a memory that will last a lifetime!

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