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Not All Wills Are Created Equal

Heirs receive equal shares of an estate despite a Will that leaves them only $10. What went wrong, and what would have avoided this outcome?  Read More...

Timely Words Save Taxes

You make a large donation, get an acknowledgment from the charity, and retain your canceled checks. Isn't that enough for a charitable deduction? Not unless the acknowledgment contains some indispensible words. Read More....

New Stability and Opportunities for Estate Planning

January 2, 2013  As widely publicized, the President signed a new law that leaves high income tax rates on the wealthy (now defined as those with taxable incomes over $450,000 for married couples and $400,000 for singles – roughly the top 1%).  However, less publicized features of the new law help many more Americans.  Read More....

New Requirement to Protect Your Trade Secrets

April 17, 2012  When you contracted with a Georgia state agency before today, you could rest comfortably that your business's trade secrets were not disclosable by the agency under Georgia's Open Records Act. State law automatically protected trade secrets, and Georgia's Open Records Act excluded trade secrets from the act's mandatory disclosure requirements.  But now.... 

New Georgia Statute Prohibiting Misstatements With Intent to Defraud During Foreclosure Process

April 5, 2012  Both houses of the Georgia General Assembly have recently passed by overwhelming majorities House Bill 237 to specifically make criminal misstatements with the intent to defraud during the foreclosure process.  The governor of Georgia is expected to sign this legislation into law shortly.  HB 237 amends prior Code Sections 16-8-101 and 102 by expanding the definition of “mortgage lending process” to include the execution of deeds under power of sale and the execution of assignments of security deeds that are required by Georgia law to be recorded prior to a foreclosure sale.  The legislation is intended to give law enforcement authority to investigate and prosecute violations for alleged fraud in the foreclosure process.  Read More...

New Guaranty Enforcement Issues -- Whose Debt is Being Guaranteed?

March 20, 2012   When a Guarantor with deep pockets (or with at least some ability to pay) is called upon to pay pursuant to a written Guaranty of a commercial lease for Georgia property, the Guarantor will frequently hire competent counsel to closely examine the Guaranty in an effort to duck the liability.  Guaranty law of Georgia is notoriously slippery, but a well drafted long form Guaranty that is properly completed will typically be enforced.  We have previously written about common mistakes in completing a Guaranty, such as referencing the wrong Landlord, the wrong Shopping Center, the wrong Lease or the wrong Tenant, and using a Guaranty form that is not properly drafted.  But that does not end the list of arguments up the sleeve of the clever lawyer representing the Guarantor.  One such argument is whether the Guaranty applies only to the obligations of the original tenant, or whether it also applies to the obligations of an assignee.  Read More...

Businesses Allowed to Answer Garnishments Without Attorneys

February 7, 2012  Governor Deal signed a law today in response to last year’s outcry from the business community when the Georgia Supreme Court stated that it is the unauthorized practice of law for any non-lawyer to answer a garnishment for a business entity in a Georgia court of record. The new law (effective immediately) frees businesses from that requirement and expense.  But there are two provisos that businesses should be mindful of. First, it only covers the answer, so an attorney is still required if a traverse or claim is filed. Second, this new law risks being struck down. Questions have been raised about whether it infringes on the Supreme Court’s responsibility for regulating the practice of law. If you have any doubts or questions about a garnishment that your business has received, our experienced attorneys are available to help.

GA Businesses Prepare for Federal "e-Verify" Compliance

June 30, 2011  Earlier this year and with an enormous amount of press reporting, the Georgia legislature passed (and Governor Deal signed) the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act -- wide-ranging legislation designed to deal at a local level with the presence of undocumented and illegal aliens in Georgia.  Although a federal court earlier this week put a temporary hold on two parts of the new legislation (both addressing criminal statutes and law enforcement activity), the other 21 parts will go into effect on July 1, 2011 – most notably, the so-called “e-Verify” requirements, which affect private business hiring practices. Read More...

Certificates of Insurance No Longer Adequate

May 25, 2011 Georgia is the latest state to adopt new laws reinforcing that parties should not verify insurance coverage by relying on a Certificate of Insurance (“COI”) issued by an insurance broker. The new law provides that a COI may not modify, amend, or change any of the provisions in the policy. If there is a difference between what is stated in the COI and what is in the policy, the certificate holder is “out of luck.”  The result is certificate holders (such as lenders, landlord, and developers) need to change how they verify insurance coverages. Read More...

The “NEWEST” Georgia Restrictive Covenant Law

May 11, 2011 This past Election Day, voters approved a referendum that made restrictive covenants (such as agreements not to compete, solicit another's customers, or divulge their confidential information) more enforceable in Georgia. Subsequently discovered errors, however, cast doubt on the constitutionality of the new law. Therefore our state legislature passed the same statute (with a few changes), and on May 11, 2011, Governor Deal signed into law the “newest” set of restrictive covenant statutes. Read More...

The Latest Estate Tax Regime

March 1, 2011 The unsettled world of gift, estate and generation skipping transfer taxes was only partially settled when the President and Congress passed a new law in December 2010. The legislation presents confusing rules, many with differing effective dates, and most of which are likely to change again in less than two years. Although the fine points of the law are widely available on the internet, the good news is that you don’t need to know all the details (that's our job). But you do need to be aware of how the new law impacts you, if at all. Read More...