Law Office of Paul Black - November 2019


November 2019

The Importance of Rituals and Family MORE THAN A DINNER

F or many years, my family has had the same Thanksgiving tradition: We head down to Jacksonville to my aunt and uncle’s house. In fact, this annual ritual made turkey day my favorite holiday. We used to rent a pavilion in a park in their neighborhood for the event, and kids and adults alike would work up an appetite playing two-hand touch football. Everyone played, whether you were 8 or 80, and it was great to have that kind of bonding experience ahead of the big meal. But all things in life are subject to change. My uncle passed away about two years ago. It was a heart-wrenching loss for the whole family, but my aunt took the family didn’t meet in that Jacksonville park last Thanksgiving. And in the absence of my uncle and our tradition last year, I really realized the importance of these family rituals. Last year, I couldn’t help but reflect on how many memorable moments we had at that park and how little I get to see that side of it especially hard. She needed time to mourn, and, for the first time in recent memory,

my family outside of this one event. What I used to take for granted as a fun way to spend that particular Thursday suddenly became an important symbol of the bonds between my loved ones and me. I was reminded of this at my wedding this year when many of my relatives from that side of the family came out to celebrate. My cousins and I ended up taking each other on in a game of three-on-three basketball, just like old times. It was the perfect reminder that, though we have lost someone dear to us, we can still carry on and build from the traditions that were tied to them. for my aunt. We’ll do all the cooking and scheduling; she just has to show up at the same neighborhood park where we’ve shared so many Thanksgiving meals over the years. For me, it’s a great reminder that taking care of a person’s estate is about more than numbers and well-crafted wills. It’s about ensuring families have the means to carry forward the traditions that brought them together despite their ever-changing lives. So, this year, my cousins and I have offered to take care of everything

In fact, after this visit to Jacksonville this year, my wife and I are planning to drop in on the family of a client of mine. Their great uncle owned a historic property and desperately wanted to keep it in the family. It took some digging to find his niece and nephew, but they were more than willing to take on the important task of preserving this piece of history. Being able to see this property, and the way these two generations are working together to maintain it, is sure to be a powerful experience indeed. So, whatever your family traditions may be, hold on to them. The people or locations may change, but what matters most is that you maintain the spirit of togetherness that springs from events like this. Even if it’s only a yearly gathering like Thanksgiving, taking the time to appreciate the loved ones in your life will always be worth it. These rituals get us to stop worrying about the future and lamenting the past, and they also help us live and love in the moment.

Happy Thanksgiving,

-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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GET MORE BANK FOR YOUR BUCK How to Take Full Advantage of Your Financial Institution

Whether you’re banking with a credit union or a national giant, your financial institution likely offers more resources, account options, and saving plans than you’re using — or even aware of. As one NerdWallet article puts it, “Banks and credit unions continue to find new ways to both delight and confound customers.” If you focus on the delights, you can get more bang for your buck out of the financial institution you’re already using. Plus, there’s a good chance you’ll pick up new ways to stretch your retirement fund, grow your investments, and pass nest eggs to your grandkids along the way. Take these two easy steps to get started. 1. GET CLICKING Even for someone with plenty of internet savvy, bank websites can be intimidating. Most are filled with tabs and portals that overwhelm customers, causing them to limit their interactions to plugging in a username and password to check their balance. Don’t fall into that trap! If you want to get a complete picture of what your bank has to offer, its website is the place to start.

Next time you log in, set aside an hour or two to explore the site tab by tab. Take note of products and services you might not be using, like mobile banking apps, 24-hour hotlines, continuing education, and additional account options and their interest rates. Schwab, for example, offers a free online learning center complete with seminars, one-on-one financial advice, and more than 300 If your bank has a brick-and-mortar location near you, make a point to visit it. While there, take the time to learn about the latest updates from the reading materials on offer, make an appointment with a financial analyst, or speak with a bank teller. It’s in your bank’s interest to see your accounts grow, so representatives are happy to help. If you’ve already explored your bank’s website, this is the time to ask follow-up questions on what you found or make a financial move in a new direction. Whether you’ve decided on a 529 plan or a high-interest checking account, your banking representative can make it happen. informative articles and videos. 2. SCHEDULE A SIT-DOWN

Asked and Answered: A Legal Advice Column

Dear Paul, My younger brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was in his early twenties. Ten years later, he sometimes lives on the streets and sometimes in homeless shelters. My parents and I have spent a small fortune and thousands of hours trying to help him have a more normal life. Unfortunately, he refuses to take his medications, which is one reason he lacks the stability to hold on to a job or even feed and groom himself. If one of us were able to become his guardian, would we be able to force him to take his medication? Can we decide where he lives? My parents are getting older, and we are all tired of half-measures. –My Brother’s Keeper

Dear Brother’s Keeper, First and foremost, you need to know that becoming a Guardian (or perhaps Co-Guardians) of your brother does not give you the legal authority to force your brother to take medications. I can’t delve into all the literature and case law on this topic in a single column, but guardianship preserves your brother’s autonomy, and his preferences — including NOT taking his medication — still prevail. However, a guardian does have the authority to direct your brother to receive care from a physician who may recommend treatment options to your brother. As you may know, a new class of injectable medications (such as Invega sustenna ) can be administered monthly and then as seldom as every 90 days for patients with schizophrenia. Consistency with these medications is sometimes much easier than daily pills, but patient consent is still paramount. Your brother’s guardian could decide where he lives, but it must be the “least restrictive environment” necessary for his health and safety. For example, you could rent

an apartment for him or help him find suitable group housing and counseling. However, if you believe your brother’s condition is so dire that he needs to be committed to involuntary mental health treatment, you could not use your guardianship (or emergency guardianship) powers to do so. Rather, your brother would still have to go through involuntary commitment proceedings. In Georgia, that usually takes the form of a 1013, which requires a finding of “imminent risk of harm to self or others” or an “imminently life- endangering crisis” as certified by a licensed physician or psychologist, LCSW, or psychiatric clinical nurse specialist. Families are often very frustrated with the limitations of guardianship when it is sought to help an adult with mental health issues. While the right team— often including a guardianship attorney, mental health social worker, and other medical professionals — can often help you identify and pursue the best options in the right order, nothing guarantees your brother will achieve the stable and happy life you want for him. All of us must be honest about the limits of the options allowed and then decide whether this uncertain path is still worth traveling.

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Go to an Art Museum Day, which takes place on Nov. 9, is very clear about how you should celebrate it: Go to an art museum! This holiday is an important reminder of the wealth of art and creativity housed in our nation’s museums. Many facilities participate in the holiday with events and discounted entry fees. While East Coast art meccas like New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art immediately come to mind, there are some hidden gems in our country that deserve a second (or first) look. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WILDLIFE ART Wyoming It’s hard to beat the setting of this museum. Located in Jackson, Wyoming, the National Museum of Wildlife Art is nestled into a cliff overlooking the pristine National Elk Refuge. As if the beautiful environment weren’t enough, the museum is also filled with 14 galleries (over 5,000 pieces) from artists who evoke the relationship between humans and the natural world, including pieces from Georgia O’Keeffe, John James Audubon, John Clymer, and Robert Kuhn. In 1994, the museum received the Wyoming Humanities Award, and, in 2008, it received its current designation as the National Museum of Wildlife Art of the United States from Congress.

SHELBURNE MUSEUM Vermont Experience American history, art, and design at this impressive museum that was “designed to allow visitors the pleasure of discovery and exploration.” From architecture to impressionist art, the 35 acres of this museum house 39 different structures, each celebrating a subsection of American art. Founded by Electra Havemeyer Webb, an art lover and collector, Shelburne Museum exemplifies her vision of an institution that

celebrates both past and present. CHINATI FOUNDATION Marfa, Texas

This contemporary art museum carries out the intentions of artist and founder Donald Judd, who sought to create a sense of time and place through thoughtful curation and design. Judd emphasized “works in which art and the surrounding landscape are inextricably linked.” Located on 340 acres of land, the museum includes permanent and temporary installations. The foundation also supports artist residence and educational programs. Judd’s ideas, and their manifestation in Chinati, have helped establish Marfa as an international art destination.


Inspirational MOMENT


• • • • • •

2 lbs whole green beans, ends trimmed

6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1/2 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp crushed red pepper

“I hate turkeys. If you go to the grocery store and stand in front of the lunch meat section for too long, you start to get really mad at turkeys. You see turkey ham, turkey pastrami, turkey bologna — somebody needs to tell the turkeys, ‘Man, just be yourself.’” –Mitch Hedberg

Kosher salt, to taste


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. To the side of the stove, prepare a large bucket of ice water. 2. Cook beans in boiling water for 4 minutes. Immediately transfer to ice water. Drain and pat dry. 3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in ground ginger and crushed pepper. Add green beans. 4. Cook together for 2–3 minutes. 5. Transfer to plate and serve.

Inspired by Food &Wine Magazine | 3

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




More Than Thanksgiving Dinner


How to Get More From Your Bank Asked and Answered Go to an Art Museum Day


Green Beans With Ginger and Garlic

Inspirational Moment


The Story of Sapelo Island



A Small Island With a Big Story

A LAND OF FREEDOM After the Civil War, many African Americans who were freed from the bonds of slavery continued to make their home on Sapelo Island, forming the community of Hog Hammock, also called Hogg Hummock. To this day, the town remains one of the last surviving Gullah communities. Thanks to the island’s relative isolation, descendants of the original Hog Hammock founders could preserve their West African heritage and unique Creole dialect.

Explorers, slaves, industrialists, and Islamic scholars — they all have called the quiet shores of Sapelo Island home. This 25-square-mile spit of land holds as much natural beauty as it does history, making it an ideal staycation destination for travelers of all stripes. Whether you venture out to Georgia’s fourth-largest barrier island for a day trip or lodge in the RJ Reynolds Mansion itself, you are sure to take away some truly incredible memories from Sapelo. A LAND OF FIRSTS Many historians believe Sapelo Island may be the first part of the present-day United States to have been settled by Europeans. Not much is known about the town of San Miguel de Gualdape, save it was established on a barrier island off the Georgia coast and only lasted from August of 1526 to November of the same year. Yet in that time, Sapelo

Island would have borne witness to the first Catholic Mass, the first documented use of African slavery, and the first slave rebellion in what is now the United States. And the firsts don’t stop there. A LAND OF FAITH Like much of Georgia in the 19th century, Sapelo Island was cultivated by slaves. Thomas Spalding turned the island into a cotton plantation in the early 1800s through the forced labor of some 400 slaves from West Africa and the Caribbean — Bilali

Mohammad was among them. Literate in French, English, and Arabic before his enslavement as a teenager, Bilali would go on to write a 13-page manuscript while on Sapelo Island. This is widely believed to be the first document on Islamic law in the United States.

So, beyond the beautiful beaches and wildlife, Sapelo Island is home to both treasured and

often-overlooked parts of our nation’s history. Take a 30-minute ferry ride from

Meridian, and discover this truly unique Georgia gem for yourself !

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