The Law Office of Paul Black - October 2019

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October 2019

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

P art of my job is helping families prepare for and get through difficult situations. So, you might think when my family and I face challenges ourselves that I’d be uniquely prepared to deal with them. But, as I learned at the end of this summer, that just isn’t the case. No matter who you are or how well you’ve prepared, finding long-term care for a loved one is always going to be a stressful experience.

a quality skilled nursing facility is not easy. So, I advise anyone to keep hard copies of all the information you would need to get you or your loved one admitted to one of these facilities. Having a folder of insurance information and the most up-to-date list of their prescriptions will help for a smoother admission procedure, too. Prior to this event, I thought I had this process pretty well at hand for myself. But, looking back at how the crisis played out, my family and I were very lucky. I knew a facility some of my clients had still a scramble to get him relocated — something very emotionally taxing on my father. To be moved to a hospital and then a nursing home in such a short period of time is difficult for anyone.  All things considered, I’m just glad I live nearby. No matter how much technology may reduce the challenges presented by used for rehabilitation in the past, and, by chance, they had a room available when we called. It was

distance, having at least one family member with boots on the ground helps ensure plans are put into action My sister in California was a big help getting everything organized, but some logistics can be handled

much faster in person.

Thankfully, my father is on the mend. At the time of writing the plan is for him to spend 20 days rehabilitating himself at this facility, and then he should be able to return home. All in all, this was a humbling reminder that just because I help others through these situations doesn’t mean I’ll be immune to the stress and heartache they cause. Still, I’m thankful to have a job where I can give other families a road map for how to get through these difficult trials. I can’t eliminate the challenges and fear you’ll face in moments like this, but I can help you and your loved ones find a path forward. 

At the end of July, my father suffered a bad fall in his bathroom. His left knee

became incredibly swollen, and he needed to be hospitalized. But, even after we’d got him the emergency care he needed, it was clear he couldn’t just go back to living life at home right away — an injury like that at his age requires rehabilitation. My family and I needed to find our father a live-in facility

“Just because I help others through these situations doesn’t mean I’ll be immune to the stress and heartache they cause.”

where he could retrain himself to walk with his left leg, which would prove difficult on short notice. This is actually something I’ve helped clients do in the past. Finding a bed at

-Paul Black

Do you have estate planning or elder law-related questions? Write to me at paul@georgia-estatelaw.com 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.

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DON’T LET MONEY GET IN THE WAY Of Your Grandchild’s Education

College expenses aren’t what they used to be. What used to be affordable to any student with a part-time summer job now can take years to pay off. If your grandkids want to go to college, the cost of education should not be a barrier to their future. Luckily there are ways that you can help ease that financial burden. INVEST IN A 529 SAVINGS PLAN. There are no limits on age, income, or monetary contributions attached to this college savings account, and contributions are tax- deductible in some states. Just like a Roth IRA, the earnings

PAY THEIR TUITION. Not everybody has $20,000 just lying around, but if you do, using it to pay for your grandchild’s tuition isn’t a bad way to spend it. Normally, annual financial gifts that are exempt from the federal gift tax can’t exceed $15,000, but payments toward someone’s tuition, for any amount, are not taxed. Keep in mind, however, that the money can only go toward tuition, not toward other college expenses like room and board or textbooks. HELP THEM FIND OPPORTUNITIES TO SAVE. Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to give, you can still help your grandkids look for other opportunities to save. There are thousands of available scholarships, grants, and programs to help students pay for college, and helping them look online and in your community can go a long way. College could be your grandchild’s first stop on the path to achieving their dreams. You can be a part of that journey by making sure money doesn’t get in the way of that.

grow over time and can be used tax-free for qualifying expenses, like tuition and room and board. There are a few downsides, however. Funds from a grandparent’s 529 savings plan are considered student income and could hurt your student’s eligibility for financial aid. If you choose to fund through a parent’s 529 plan, which doesn’t count as student income, you lose control over the funds you contribute.

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Dear Paul,

Dear Concerned Daughter,

and your mother should still share your concerns with him. He may be amenable to giving up his firearms at a certain age or if certain diagnoses arise. This would be far better than the infamous Charlton Heston line about taking firearms from someone’s “cold, dead hands.” Every day, the chorus of people grows calling for “red flag” laws that will allow law enforcement to take firearms from individuals deemed threatening to themselves or others. That sounds ambiguous, which is intentional, because the specifics have not yet been through the meat grinder of the law-making process. We don’t yet know if such a law will pass and, if it does, what the specific provisions would say. Until then, for those of us who own firearms, we must acknowledge the enormous risks and responsibilities of gun ownership, obtain training, be proactive about secure storage, and not take our rights and privileges for granted.

My father is a Vietnam War veteran in his mid-70s. He grew up hunting in rural Alabama, was a career military man, and still owns a lot of guns. Recently, he mistook my mother walking downstairs in the middle of the night for a home invader. My mother has never been more fearful for her life than when she saw him with a pistol. He didn’t shoot, but he didn’t realize she was downstairs, either. What are my legal rights and responsibilities to help deal with this kind of situation? I’m not a “gun- grabber,” but I want to be proactive about Dad’s guns before something horrible happens.

If your father has a diminished mental capacity to the point where he cannot make responsible decisions about his health and safety, then it may be time for you and your mother to petition the local probate court to become his guardian and conservator. With this legal authority, you can take possession of your father’s firearms in the interest of his safety and that of those around him. However, this process can take several weeks or months, so some families choose to secure the firearms illegally. While I am generally deferential to someone’s property rights, isn’t the safety of others a right as well? I cannot advise families to do this, but I — as a firearm owner myself — understand why they do so. In contrast, if your father does not have diminished capacity and was simply protecting his family from a potential home invasion, your options are more complicated. You arguably don’t have any basis to take his firearms away, but you

Sincerely,

Concerned Daughter

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DIA DE LOS MUERTOS A Celebration of Life

FULL OF LIFE Though the name might lead you to believe differently, Dia de los Muertos is a joyous time. If you visit Mexico during the holiday, the air is filled with music, and the streets are full of dancing and color. Instead of a sorrowful mourning of the dead, it is a vibrant, joyous celebration of life. Intricate altar displays, called ofrendas, honor the spirits of relatives who’ve passed. Families fill them with photographs and the relatives’ favorite food and drinks. It’s believed that during Dia de los Muertos, the boundary between the living and the dead is lifted, and, for one night only, spirits come back to visit and enjoy what their families have set out for them. Today, the multiday celebration takes place throughout Central and North America. As tiny Batmans and Skywalkers add the final adjustments to their costumes, other families clean their homes and prepare to honor the spirits of their loved ones. And in today’s beautiful blend of cultures, many families celebrate both holidays.

Despite the common misconception, Dia de los Muertos is not an offshoot of Halloween. While the two holidays often happen simultaneously, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican holiday that originated with the indigenous people of Central America, including the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Each year, they gathered and gave offerings to their dead. When the Spaniards came to Mexico, they fused the indigenous celebrations with their traditions of All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1) and All Souls’ Day (Nov. 2). ANCIENT BEGINNINGS Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations viewed death as a beginning rather than an end. This was likely tied to agricultural practices and the seasons, with crops dying in the winter and being reborn in the spring. Dia de los Muertos evolved from those roots and is now observed throughout Mexico and the United States. It’s a time of remembering your loved ones by celebrating their lives.

SMOOTHIE Vegan Ooze

Inspirational MOMENT

INGREDIENTS

Green Smoothie Ingredients •

8 oz almond or coconut milk

• • • • • • • • • • • •

2 cups fresh spinach 1/2 frozen banana 1/2 fresh avocado 2 tbsp hemp seeds 1 tbsp maple syrup

“You don’t choose your family. They are god’s gift to you, as you are to them.” –Desmond Tutu

1 cup ice

Purple Smoothie Ingredients • 1 cup frozen blueberries

8 oz almond or coconut milk

1/2 cup fresh spinach 1/2 frozen banana 2 tbsp hemp seeds 1 tbsp maple syrup

1 cup ice

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients. 2. Blend on high until smooth. 3. For added fun, serve in beakers and flasks with crazy straws. DIRECTIONS

Inspired by ForkAndBeans.com

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1

What a Family Crisis Taught Me

2

3 Strategies for Helping Grandkids Pay for College Asked and Answered The Meaning of Dia de los Muertos

3

Vegan Ooze Smoothie

Inspirational Moment

4

Views From Tallulah

GEORGIA TRAVELS

A GORGE-OUS SIGHT Views From Tallulah

Nestled into the northwest corner of our state, you’ll find one of the most breathtaking canyons east of the Mississippi, Tallulah Gorge. A favorite among outdoor enthusiasts throughout the southeast United States, this state park offers 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, swimming, fishing, geocaching, and more! As if those activities weren’t enough reason to visit, the fall colors are coming in, and there couldn’t be a more beautiful time to witness this breathtaking slice of Georgia. This state park is often called “Tallulah Gorgeous” for a reason. The 2-mile-long, thousand-foot-deep stretch of canyon is an incredible sight, except if you are afraid of heights. For those brave enough to take in the view, an extension bridge spans the canyon. From there, hikers have a 360-degree view of this natural wonder. The autumn leaves make

this sight even more beautiful, as the trees scaling the sides of the gorge form a patchwork of golds and reds. For those who want to explore the bottom of the canyon, you have competition. You’ll need to apply for a day pass through the park service, and only 100 are issued per day, so plan accordingly. Still, the chance to walk beside the white-water rapids and take in the many beautiful waterfalls along the gorge’s floor is worth waking up early to secure one of these coveted permits. For those who are less sure-footed, take the less extreme paved trail and enjoy a picnic area. And, of course, for those who really want to take their outdoor experience to the next level, permits are available for rock climbing. No matter how you choose to enjoy Tallulah Gorge, one thing is certain: You’re going to love the view.

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