Law Office of Paul Black - December 2019

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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