Law Office of Paul Black - August 2019


August 2019

The Importance of Lifelong Learning LET’S ALL GO BACK TO SCHOOL

A s the advertisements and sales signs suggest, back-to-school season is upon us. Of course, for those of us who don’t have kids at home, these marketing campaigns can be little more than a warning that school buses will once again take to the streets. But this time of year, I can’t help thinking “When do we really stop being students?” Think about it — we don’t stop learning the moment we earn our degree. On the contrary, I’d argue the majority of what we learn comes from life

I never want to fall into this trap, especially when shifting economies, tax laws, and regulations can have such an impact on my clients. So, I attend conferences every year and come back with a new perspective on my practice. I am inspired to continue learning and growing because so many older people I meet are doing it. While taking swing dance lessons several years ago, I was reminded how important lifelong learning really is. One of my fellow students was an 80-year-old woman, who I first assumed

new friends. To this day, I admire her strength and confidence.

What stuck with me most after meeting this 80-year-old dancer is how often we sell ourselves short as we age. We assume our only real social activity as seniors is going to be bingo — but I’ve seen so many people do so much more than that. Across my spectrum of clients, regardless of income level, the most lucid and lively individuals share one factor — they either read, have a hobby they are passionate about, or both. “Use it or lose it” is certainly true when it comes to the mind. Learning new things and talking about what we’re learning with others helps with our neuroplasticity, literally keeping our brains in shape. So, my challenge to you this month is this: What are you going to learn? What better time to start a new hobby or a book club than the back-to-school season?

lessons outside of school. We may not have summer breaks anymore, but I don’t believe we are truly done studying. Or at least, we shouldn’t be. This is especially true of lawyers. In my profession, we joke that some attorneys have been practicing the same

must have had decades of experience under her belt. But to my surprise, when I asked her how long she’d been dancing, she said, “One month!” I was astounded and inspired by her enthusiasm even before she gave me the full story.

year for 35 years, and there’s definitely truth to it. Some just hang their shingle and simply repeat the lessons they learned in law school over and over again without adapting to the times.

You see, this woman was recently widowed. And yet, in the face of grief, she decided she wasn’t going to succumb to loneliness. She was going to get outside, learn something entirely new, and make

See you in class,

-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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RING, RING — IT’S A ROBOT What You Can Do to Protect Yourself From Phone Scams and Robocalls

Two of the most common scams are phone scams and robocalls. These calls are incredibly annoying and can trick you out of valuable information if you’re not careful. While it might seem like these scams are inescapable, there are some precautions you can take to avoid their traps. GIVE THEM THE SILENT TREATMENT. One thing you can do to avoid these at all. It’s always good to have a list of numbers you can reference, so you never have to guess who is calling. Think of it as going one step beyond caller ID. In some cases, answering and then hanging up can actually do more harm than good. fraudulent, time-wasting calls is to simply hang up. If possible, it is best to not answer

Answering the phone gives the scammers confirmation that the number works and that they should try again. Once your number is confirmed as active, it often gets put on an “active number” list that can then be sold to other scammers who market in these types of phone numbers. If you can’t verify who is calling without picking up, don’t answer. Let it go to voicemail. If it’s important, the person will leave a legitimate message and you can respond afterward. PUT UP SOME DETERRENTS. You can even go a step further and block the calls. Many phone service providers offer call-blocking options, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon. You can sign up for this service in-store or on your service provider’s website. Each service costs about $4 per month. There are also a number of

call-blocking apps available on Android and Apple devices, but if you subscribe to a blocking service through your phone provider, these apps are unnecessary. Finally, you can sign up for the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” program ( While the Do Not Call program can help cut back on calls, this list is largely ignored by scammers. If you’re getting a ridiculous number of robocalls every day, signing up can offer you some brief respite. Thankfully, Congress is already attempting to fix this problem by making it harder for scammers to call you. But until they are able to pass tough, effective legislation, it is up to us as consumers to remain vigilant and do what we can to keep our personal and financial data safe and secure.

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Dear Paul, My husband and I raised two fine children who are hardworking and responsible. Unfortunately, while my daughter’s children are respectful and embody good manners and gratitude, my son and his wife both work 60-hour weeks in another state and don’t have time to be involved parents. They do, however, make a lot of money. Result: two spoiled brat kids, ages 9 and 12. They lack for nothing. They seem to appreciate nothing about money or hard work. As a loving grandparent who sees these two children fairly often, do I have any hope of turning this around? Should I just mind my own business? –Generous Granny in Georgia

Dear Generous Granny, I haven’t raised children of my own yet, so take that as a huge qualifier on the advice I am about to give. However, I do hear very frequently frommy clients who have responsible adult children but who also want to provide various things for their grandchildren. If you have the money, it’s easy to leave an inheritance for a grandchild or help fund their college education with a 529 Plan. But some things are not as easy, and there are clear boundaries you have to respect. First and foremost, your “spoiled brat” grandchildren have not yet had the chance to work. While they probably don’t live on a farm, it falls to their parents to set expectations, divide household chores, and set allowances. Give them some time. Second, share your concerns with your son. He clearly took your advice to heart in the past, and there’s a good chance he cares about his children’s attitudes about money, gifts, and work. If you find your son is open to your input, you will find no shortage of great books on the topic of how to raise

financially responsible children. Since we are living through the greatest wealth transfer in human history right now as the baby boomers of the U.S. grow old and die, this is a very relevant topic. And, since my generation — the children of boomers — are mostly “too old” to learn new tricks, millennials and younger generations are now often the subject of grandparent concern. If I had to recommend just one book for your situation, it would be Ron Lieber’s excellent book, “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money.” As important as your conversation with your son is about your interaction with your grandkids, tell them about your childhood, even if you didn’t get up at 5 a.m. to milk the cows and walk uphill to and from school. Tell them about the sacrifices you made over the years. Tell them about delayed gratification. Then let them see you live these ideals. Show them how hard work, thrift, and long-term thinking are still relevant in your life. Maybe, just maybe, your good example will help them realize how lucky they are and help them cultivate stronger habits!

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THE ART OF STARGAZING Helping Humans Slow Down and Look Up

Modern humans are stuck in a routine of expected and constant industriousness. But with all this rushing, people often drag themselves home at night with no energy left to enjoy the most splendid show nature has to offer: the wondrous night sky. Most people go through life looking straight ahead, but if they would stop and peer skyward, they’d bear witness to a massive, unexplored frontier made up of the moon in all its phases, burning stars sailing through the sky, constellations with epic origin stories, and meteor showers bright enough to warrant sunglasses. If you’re looking for a hobby to help you slow down and appreciate the world around you, stargazing is a great option. Here are some tips to get you started. 1. THE HIGHER, THE BETTER If you’re a city dweller, meander a little way out of town or try to find a tall building to keep the light pollution to a minimum. 2. EXTRA SET OF EYES WHILE novice stargazers often want to immediately throw their money at a new telescope, astronomy experts recommend starting with binoculars instead. You’ll need to identify

several anchor planets or constellations to help you navigate the sky before using a telescope. 3. UTILIZE ASSETS Put your phone to good use by downloading apps like Stellarium, Starwalk, and Google Sky Map. Each of these apps offers a unique benefit for aspiring stargazers. For example, Starwalk lets you point your phone at the sky to see stars, constellations, and planets in real time based on your location. 4. MARK YOUR CALENDAR In 1972, beloved singer-songwriter John Denver wrote about a meteor shower he witnessed during a camping trip in Colorado. He describes the scene by singing, “I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky.” The “fire” he recounted was actually the Perseids meteor shower, the most recognized shower on Earth. This astrological wonder takes place every year from July 17 to Aug. 24. During this time, viewers should be able to see shooting stars associated with the Perseids, but the shower reaches its maximum rate of activity on Aug. 12–13 this year. Grab some friends and family, and head outdoors to put your newfound stargazing knowledge to work.

SMOOTHIE Vegan Green

Inspirational MOMENT


• • • • • • • • • • •

1 cup coconut water 1/2 cup mango juice

2 large Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped 2 cups romaine lettuce, packed 2/3 cup parsley leaves, packed 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, packed 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”

1/4 cup avocado

4 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp turmeric 5 large ice cubes

1. In a blender, combine all ingredients, beginning with coconut water and mango juice. 2. Blend on high until smooth. 3. Pour into glass and serve. Any leftovers will keep for up to 24 hours in the fridge. DIRECTIONS

–Dalai Lama

Inspired by | 3

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




Let’s All Go Back to School


How to Best Protect Yourself From Scam Calls Asked and Answered The Art of Stargazing


Vegan Green Smoothie

Inspirational Moment


Discover Foxfire



Discover Foxfire

Just outside Mountain City, Georgia, nestled amongst the pines of the Chattahoochee National Forest, you’ll find a place frozen in time. Authentic pioneer log cabins stand in pristine condition, furnished with handcrafted houseware, toys, and folk art. The Foxfire Museum & Heritage Center is a place where history comes to life. The roots of this surreal attraction were laid in the 1960s, when an English teacher and his students decided to start a magazine. They wanted their publication to chronicle the disappearing culture of Appalachia and preserve the pioneer history of the region. With this local focus in mind, these students from North Georgia named their budding magazine “Foxfire” after the bioluminescent fungus. Over 50 years later, Foxfire magazine and several related publications are still driven by students and going strong. These young writers do research into North Georgia’s rustic past and interview members of the Appalachian community working to preserve their arts and traditions. The money made

from these anthologies on Appalachian culture supports the museum and heritage center and the many great programs its staff puts on every year. You see, the Foxfire Museum is more than just a collection of cabins for visitors to explore. Tours also include presentations from craft specialists — individuals who are keeping the heritage and practices of old Appalachia alive. In fact, you can even sign up for classes taught by these professionals to learn things like hand-spinning yarn or making castile soap. You can find out what classes are available by visiting the “All Upcoming Events” page at Whether your family has roots in the wooded mountains of North Georgia, or you just want to experience a slice of history, this is the perfect choice for a day trip. Getting up to the mountains to cool off this summer is a great idea in itself. Why not have an engaging, educational experience at the same time?

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