Law Office of Paul Black - April 2020


April 2020

Tracing the Origins of April Fools’ Day A FOOL’S ERRAND

By the time this newsletter reaches you, I hope you haven’t fallen victim to any April Fools’ pranks. The internet has certainly taken this strange tradition to new heights, with some of the world’s largest companies getting in on the deception. And while I may not have a history of pulling pranks myself (that I’ll admit to), I have to say there’s something fascinating about this holiday. So, just as we delved into the possible origins of spring-cleaning last edition, I decided to explore the roots of April Fools’. many pranks themselves. In fact, the one thing historians seem to be in agreement on when it comes to April Fools’ is that there’s very little to agree on. One of the more popular theories about the first of April becoming a day for deception stems from a mistranslation of a very famous piece of literature. In “The Canterbury Tales,” Geoffrey Chaucer describes a wily fox pulling a prank on a date which, translated from Old English, roughly says “32 days since March began,” i.e., April 1. However, As it turns out, tracing this holiday through history can be as fraught as

the very same story (“The Nun’s Priest’s Tale”) references the sun being in the sign of Taurus — something that would be impossible for early April. So, unless Chaucer really needed to brush up on his astrology, the original text must have been mistranslated during the many times it was transcribed since 1392. Many researchers believe that the original manuscript said “32 days since March had gone,” which would put the fox’s prank on May 2. If these tales were in fact a spark for April Fools’, we may have missed the mark entirely! But other historians argue the origins of this celebration go far further back than Chaucer and the 14th century. Indeed, the ancient Romans celebrated Hilaria the day after the March equinox. Meant to ring in the beginning of brighter days, a chief aspect of Hilaria was masquerading in costumes, where one could parody even the most prominent Roman leaders without fear of retribution. Similarly, pagan traditions from northern Europe saw the vernal equinox as a time when Mother Nature played tricks on people with her ever-changing weather.

What we know for certain is that 16th-century France is the most likely progenitor of the term “April fool,” and it has very little to do with ancient Roman holidays or equinoxes. In fact, the label was coined by those breaking with Roman tradition, switching to the Gregorian calendar which placed the New Year on Jan. 1. Those who still clung to the old traditions of celebrating on April 1 were deemed “poisson d’avril” — April fish. While the name may sound strange, calling someone a fish at that time in French culture was essentially slang for foolish and easy to deceive. Whether or not any of these events are related, one thing is clear: Many people throughout the centuries have felt the need to liven things up as spring begins. After the solitude of winter, wanting to cut loose is more than understandable. In fact, some might say it’s natural that we don’t have one defining reason for celebrating April Fools’ day — you don’t need a reason to have a laugh.

-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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You’ve worked hard for years to arrive at this moment: retirement. Now that you’re free of your 9-to-5 job, you have a lot more time for activities you enjoy. That extra time is what leads many people to turn to a nomadic lifestyle after retirement. Touring in an RV, sailing around the world, or even just retiring to a cabin in a remote locale are all popular options for new retirees. If the spirit of adventure is calling you, here are some financial tips to set you on the right path. DOWNSIZE BEFORE YOU GO Some folks choose to sell their home and use the income to fund their travels, staying in apartments and rentals as they go. If that seems too drastic, downsizing to a smaller home is also a good option, especially if you plan to travel in intervals but want a home base to return to. This also gives you the option of renting your home while you’re away and using the money to continue traveling. ASK OTHER NOMADS Crowdsource advice from friends and family members who’ve taken the leap. Lots of other people have

shared your dream and made it a reality. Many have turned their experience into books or blogs, like Lynne Martin, who’s been traveling around the world with her husband, Tim, for the last three years. The Martins used the sale of their home to finance their travels. They also take cruises to cut down on travel costs and often dine in to save money. DO YOUR RESEARCH If you have a specific place in mind for your retirement, like Hawaii or Texas, look at rental costs and other lifestyle changes that can affect your budget. For example, Hawaii’s cost of living is cheaper than other popular retirement states, like Florida, but basic commodities may be more expensive. If a boat or RV is more your style, be sure to add repair and fuel costs into your budget. As you go about researching and planning, be sure to consult with your financial advisor so they can help you look at your current situation and make adjustments. With the proper planning, you’ll be living your nomadic dream in no time.

Asked and Answered: Paul Answers Your Irrevocable Trust Queries

Dear Paul,

very compelling (and court-approved) reasons to make changes to your trust. The relatively new provisions you are hearing about became law under House Bill 121 in 2018. HB 121 made several changes to Georgia’s Trust Code, including codifying rules for how an irrevocable trust can be modified. You noted that your trust doesn’t have any language that allows changes to the trust. This is common. When the grantor who created the trust (here, that’s you and your wife) are still alive, your irrevocable trust can only be modified when you and the trust beneficiaries all submit a petition to the superior court in your county of residence requesting modification and provide notice to the trustees (easy in your case since your daughters are the trustees). Even then, the court must approve the petition before you can modify your trust. Many of our clients have revocable trusts as the core of their estate plan. After the grantors (creators of a trust) die, and their revocable

trust becomes irrevocable, having the ability to change it can still be important. After the grantors are deceased, a trust can only be modified if the trustee receives notice, all beneficiaries consent, and the court approves the change as one that furthers the material purposes of the trust. There is one more situation you should know about (and one with which I am helping a client right now): Let’s say there was a good reason to change your irrevocable trust (perhaps saving money on taxes), and that you, your wife, and your daughters wanted to make this change without going to court. Under HB 121’s changes, you can now “decant” assets from an existing trust into a new trust, provided that you don’t change the beneficiaries and don’t extend the “Rule Against Perpetuities” provisions about how long your trust can exist. There is a lot more to trust modification in Georgia, but here, I focused on just the basics that most often arise. I hope you found this helpful!

My wife and I are in our late 70s, and we hired another attorney to prepare an irrevocable trust a few years ago (2016). Our daughters are in charge of the trust. Is it true that you can now change an irrevocable trust in Georgia? I thought that the whole point of an irrevocable trust is that you couldn’t change it. (Our trust doesn’t allow for changes.) We love and trust our daughters, but we don’t want them to rewrite our estate plan, which leaves our remaining assets to their children. Please let us know what we are missing. Thanks!

–Jack and Jill (Not our real names)

Dear Jack and Jill,

Fear not: Your children cannot modify your irrevocable trust during your lifetime without your active involvement. Even after your deaths, there would have to be

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SAVE THE PLANET WITH YOUR PLATE The Top 3 Ways to Eat Eco-Friendly

Can your diet save the planet? It can be difficult to see the connection between your plate and the planet, but scientists say that eating less red meat and processed foods can greatly reduce your environmental impact. About 25% of climate change today is fueled by agriculture and factory farming, particularly the large quantities of the greenhouse gas methane that cows produce. This means that the fewer animal products you consume, the more sustainable your diet will be. Producing and packaging beef is 100 times more emissions-intensive than producing legumes. While a lack of protein is a common concern about plant-based diets, many dietary experts say that plant-based diets can meet nutritional needs. Also, proteins aren’t the only nutrient your body needs, and

dozens of vegetables and starches can offer a combination of proteins that are as complete and healthy as beef or chicken. With April being “Keep America Beautiful” month, here are some eco-friendly diet adjustments anyone can make to help preserve the planet. EAT PLANT-BASED DIETS The main goal of a plant-based diet is to replace animal products as the centerpiece of the meal. At least three-fourths of your meal should be vegetarian, but you don’t necessarily need to cut meat out altogether. For example, eating a Mediterranean diet can be very sustainable. Red meat is rare, and there’s a strong focus on legumes and vegetables. ADOPT MEATLESS MONDAYS OR MORNINGS If you’re not ready to commit to a plant-based diet, going vegetarian one

day a week can be a great option. Adopting a plant-based diet one day a week or eliminating meat from one meal a day is a great way to reduce meat consumption. GO FLEXITARIAN If you want to eat more vegetarian meals but find animal products are too hard to give up, going flexitarian is a good compromise. A flexitarian eats mainly plant-based dishes but also includes a modest amount of poultry, fish, milk, and eggs with a limited amount of red meat. If you’re able to dedicate even just one week to trying a plant-based diet, it can help you get a feel for if you’re capable of making the switch. You may even realize that it’s not hard to change your diet, and you might find it fun to try a whole different range of flavors through vegetarian food as you “reinvent” your favorite meaty dishes.

ARUGULA SALAD Beet, Goat Cheese, and

Inspirational MOMENT


• • • • • • • • • • •

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 3 tbsp shallots, thinly sliced

1 tbsp honey

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste 6 beets, peeled and quartered

6 cups fresh arugula

“In every crisis, doubt, or confusion, take the higher path — the path of compassion, courage, understanding and love.”

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

1/2 avocado, cubed

2 oz crumbled goat cheese


1. Heat oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. 2. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, shallots, and honey. 3. Gradually whisk olive oil into the mixture and season with salt and pepper. 4. In a small bowl, toss the beets in dressing until they are coated. 5. Place coated beets on baking sheet and roast them for 12 minutes. Set the beets aside and allow them to cool. 6. In a large bowl, toss arugula, walnuts, and berries with the

–Amit Ray, “Nonviolence: The Transforming Power”

remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. 7. Top salad with beets, avocado, and goat cheese.

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




The Origins of April Fools’


How to Make the Most of a Nomadic Lifestyle After Retirement Asked and Answered Eco-Friendly Diets


Beet, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad

Inspirational Moment


Georgia’s Abandoned Missile Batteries


GHOSTS OF DESTRUCTION Georgia’s Abandoned Missile Batteries

Scattered across rural Georgia, amid rusted fences and faded signs, you’ll find the bones of a dead war. The skeletal launch rails of the old Nike Missile program dot many small towns across the Eastern Seaboard, where once highly secure facilities are now overgrown or outright paved over. Many of these sites are now private property, but even those who witness them from afar can get a sense of the eerie past these derelict bases represent. A product of the Cold War, the Nike Missile project lasted from 1953 to 1974. Unlike other weapons programs of the time, the goal of Nike was not to deliver a nuclear payload over a hostile country but rather to prevent the same from being done to the United States. These surface-to-air missile sites were designed to intercept enemy aircraft in the event of an attack by the USSR. The

relatively short range of the rockets meant that sites had to dot the coastlines and regions surrounding vital military bases in order to be effective. Georgia was home to four of these defensive missile batteries, which defended the Robins and Turner Air Force Bases. The sites meant to defend Robins were built in Byron and Jeffersonville, while the Turner defense area saw Nike bases placed in Albany and Sylvester. All four stations were above

While the Nike sites in Georgia were initially armed with conventional anti-aircraft missiles, they were soon replaced with MIM-14 Nike-Hercules missiles, tipped with nuclear warheads. The hope was, in the event of an attack, a single launch could take out an entire formation of aircraft. These small- town Georgian communities were home to weapons with upward of 20 kilotons of blasting power each.

Today, it can be hard to imagine living in a world on the edge of nuclear war or having the weapons of such a war stored just miles from your town. But for those willing to peer through the overgrowth, you can still spy these grim reminders of the past.

ground and less than secret. In an interview with the Albany Herald, Col. Shelton Mitchell recounted giving tours of the Albany base to interested citizens. What the public didn’t know, however, was just how dangerous the weapons being stored right outside their town were.

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