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September 2012: No peaceful rest for Jefferson's star Sherman Hemsley
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About the Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley

The primary focuses of my law practice are in the areas of business law and estate planning.  I not only serve as outside general counsel for small business owners, but I also prepare wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and health care directives. My background in litigation allows me to successfully negotiate and protect my clients' interests. For more information, please visit my firm's website or contact me at ( 404) 386-9950 or paige@stanleylawoffice.com.

A Note From Paige

No peaceful rest for Jefferson’s star Sherman Hemsley

When I learned that actor Sherman Hemsley had passed away, I thought back fondly on his antics on shows like All In The Family, The Jeffersons and Amen. These shows were part of my childhood and provided endless amounts of entertainment for my family and me. Any time a celebrity passes away, you can bet there will be some sort of legal issue that arises, as the death of the rich and famous can unfortunately bring out the worst in some people. But for those closest to Hemsley, I’m sure none of them could have imagined what was in store for his remains. Because of a challenge by a man claiming to be the actor’s brother, Hemsley’s embalmed remains are still in refrigeration at a funeral home in El Paso, Texas, a full two months after his death.

Sherman had updated his Last Will and Testament (will) a few weeks prior to his passing, shortly after he was diagnosed with cancer. His will, dated June 13, 2012, names his longtime partner Flora Enchinton as the sole beneficiary. Given that there is a legally binding will, most would assume everything is all buttoned up. Unfortunately, as this story illustrates, this is not always the case. (For the full details, click over to CNN.com.) This is when it becomes necessary to have proper representation for matters involving probate administration.
 
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The Importance of Proper Probate Administration

What exactly is probate administration? It is when a court supervises the administration of a will and/or estate and oversees the transfer of title and property from the deceased (decedent) to any beneficiaries. Those involved will need to establish that the will is valid, appoint a legal representative to act on behalf of the decedent to administer the will, identify and appraise the decedent’s property, use this property to pay off any outstanding debts and taxes and then distribute the remaining property to the beneficiaries as designated by the will. Often this is routine and relatively straightforward but it is always wise to consult with a lawyer to be on the safe side, especially since this area has the potential to get convoluted in a hurry. To learn more about probate proceedings in Georgia, click here.
 
Additionally, it’s important to note that even if you’ve had an established will in place for quite some time, you should have it routinely reviewed by a legal professional. In a case from earlier this year (Mason v. Phillips), the Georgia Supreme Court overturned a will that was written in 1974 but not probated until 2005. Why? Wills written in Georgia prior to 1988 did not require a self-proving affidavit for witnesses. Basically, since 1988, two people have to witness the signing of a will. This requirement eliminated the need for witnesses to show up to affirm the will when it is read. While a good idea, it means any will written before 1988 is easier to contest. To read the full opinion, click here. This is yet another example of the importance of routinely updating your will and having an attorney assist in the process to make sure all your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.
 
Should you have any questions about your will or probate needs, call me at (404) 386-9950 or email me at paige@stanelylawoffice.com.
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Items in this Newsletter may be excerpts or summaries of original or secondary source material, and may have been reorganized for clarity and brevity. This Newsletter is general in nature and is not intended to provide specific legal or other advice.
Copyright © 2012 Law Office of Paige Arden Stanley, LLC, All rights reserved.
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