Georgia Year’s Support: An Essential Component to Comprehensive Estate Planning

By Kent C. Bailey, Esq., Thrift & McLemore, LLC, September 2, 2018

The death of a loved one is a time of extreme mourning and anguish for surviving family members.  In addition to the grieving process many may worry how they will move forward financially, especially if the deceased was the breadwinner of the family.  While many families are familiar with the need for a will to add financial security in these times, an almost forgotten provision in Georgia Probate Code is often neglected as a tool to care for these loved ones: Year’s Support.

What is Year’s Support? 

Georgia Code Title 53, Chapter 3 – Year’s Support is, despite its name a permanent award to a surviving spouse, minor children, or both.  It is a right to inherit property for these individuals, regardless of what may have been communicated via will, the absence of a will, or the relative position of the majority of creditors.  The beneficiary is generally entitled to receive an amount equaling satisfactory support and maintenance for a period of 12 months for a standard of living that the individual is accustomed to.  This right is not absolute; for if a spouse remarries or dies before filing, or if a minor child reaches the age of majority before filing, this right is lost.  To successfully secure a year’s support claim, a petitioner must file in the probate court in the county of the deceased within two years.  This claim can be challenged by other beneficiaries of the will, and the award will ultimately depend on the court’s discretion.

In Laymen’s Terms

Year’s Support is in actuality an antiquated law that has been on the books in Georgia for decades, dating back to a time when males were the primary provider and females were the primary caregivers within households.  While it holds a dated application in modern society, it is nonetheless an active law that can be very effective for families depending on the situation.  In a nutshell, it is a way to ensure that families of deceased individuals are not left out in the cold due to the decedent’s neglect in creating an effective estate plan, or due to changes in the decedent’s financial situation since the creation of an estate plan.  A properly petitioned Year’s Support claim places spouses and minor children squarely in the front of the line when it comes to divvying up deceased individuals assets, ensuring the family is fed before most creditors or distant money hungry relatives.

Applying Year’s Support Strategically

By terms of a properly executed will in Georgia, an individual would most often have a surviving spouse elect between the right of seeking an award of Year’s Support, or taking the property under the will as it exists.  For decedents facing significant debt at the end of life or blended families, this offers significant flexibility with regards to the estate.

Year’s Support is especially beneficial for families of deceased individuals with high levels of debt relative to assets.  Be it end of life care or some other reason, often times creditors can take the lion-share of an estate leaving surviving family members to fend for themselves.  A Year’s Support election pushes these family members to the front of the line at the expense of said creditors.  This does not include mortgage debt, but does extinguish personal debt such as credit cards, student loans, etc.

Blended families are another area where Year’s Support enjoys high participation.  If a decedent does a poor job of leaving assets to minor children in the event of remarriage, or leaves the very home that a second spouse lives in to his minor children, Year’s Support offers recourse for the aggrieved parties.  While many blended families are able to get along cordially, Year’s Support can be the last bastion of support for others engaged in a nasty probate battle.

Once properly filed, courts generally condone the award of Year’s Support unless an objection is filed by a separate party with an interest in the estate.  If an objection is filed, it is necessary to retain an attorney, as proper accounting of the estate and procedural actions apply.  The likelihood of a successful challenge depends on a number of factors, and is an intensely fact specific inquiry.

Also worth mentioning is that an award of Year’s Support only applies to probate assets.  This means that retirement accounts such as 401k’s, IRA’s, and life insurance policies are exempt unless there is no designated beneficiary.  Similarly, accounts designated as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship (JTWRS) become sole property of the surviving individual upon death of the decedent, exempting themselves from reach of probate.

How Can We Help?

Before electing or petitioning for Year’s Support in Georgia, it is worth reviewing the complete fact set with a skilled attorney.  For a self- help guide on Year’s Support in Georgia, click here.  If you have any questions about Year’s Support, or any other aspect of Estate Planning in Georgia, the qualified attorney’s at Thrift & McLemore are here to help.  You can reach Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you in creating an estate plan that works for you today.

Please visit us on the web at www.thriftlegal.com.

Thrift & McLemore Careers – We Are Hiring!

Thrift & McLemore (www.thriftlegal.com) is looking for an associate attorney, licensed and in good standing in the State of Georgia, to handle legal tasks related to real estate closings, real estate leasing work, wills, basic trust work, basic HOA work, car dealerships, RV dealerships, lemon law complaints, commercial collections, consumer timeshare disputes, basic litigation tasks (including court appearances), business start-ups, business formations and more. Would also like the individual to assist with drafting marketing articles, adding to blogs, social media marketing, etc.

Strong desire to train and mentor new associate for long-term relationship.

Work from home unless meeting a client or making a court appearance.

Thrift & McLemore
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Atlanta, GA 30363
Office: 678.671.4031

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Legal Entity Establishment: Choosing the Right Legal Form for Your Georgia Startup

By Kent Bailey, Esq. – [email protected]

#GAStartUpLawyer

Choosing the proper legal form is one of the single most important decisions in the infancy of an Entrepreneur’s startup endeavors.  It will guide how decisions regarding the operation of business will be made, the exposure to liability of select members, and rules regarding taxation.  It is fair to assume that most, if not all, entrepreneurs have a sound foundation in the principles of business.  A large stumbling block for many of these same entrepreneurs is wading through the complexities of choosing the correct legal entity for their Georgia business.

Choosing the correct business formation depends on a variety of factors that are case specific to each small business owner’s individual situation and objectives.  Each entity carries with it its own pro’s and con’s that must be carefully weighed against the would be business owner’s needs, with an eye for optimizing success of the organization.  What follows are the most common entities and some information regarding each of them.

Sole Proprietorship

A Sole Proprietorship is the easiest type of business to form.  The business usually operates in the name of the owner.  There is no formal filing with the state to create this legal entity, and a business and or occupational license is all that is required to begin.  While this is the easiest business form to create, it also carries one of the largest drawbacks.  Personal and business activities are not distinguished in a Sole Proprietorship, meaning that all income from the business passes through to the owner or sole proprietor.  There is also no shield from liability, meaning that the business owner is personally liable to all debts of the business.

Partnership

Similar to a Sole Proprietorship, a partnership can be very simple to form, and is merely an agreement regarding a business relationship between two or more people who join to carry on a trade or business.  Where a Sole Proprietorship has a single owner and decision holder, a Partnership has at a minimum two members who are responsible for the carrying on of the business.  These partners contribute capital, labor, or skill to the organization and in return share in the profits and losses.  Generally speaking, a Partnership carries with it unlimited liability and pass through taxation, although some exceptions to this exist.  While a formal, written partnership agreement is not necessary to create a partnership in Georgia, it is strongly recommended.

C – Corporation

A C Corporation differs from a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership in that it is a unique legal entity that exists distinctly and separately from its owners.  It requires more steps to be properly formed, and must be registered with the Secretary of State in Georgia.  Ownership of a corporation is governed by shareholders of the entity who appoint a board of directors to oversee corporate decisions and policies.  This board of directors can elect officers of the company to manage day to day affairs.  In a start-up or small business, these officers are also typically the shareholders.  With the drawback of the C Corp. being the complexity of the organization, the benefit of this entity is the legal separation of assets and liability from the owner.  Income from the Corporation is taxed to the corporation then sent to the individual in the form of a distribution.  This is referred to as “double taxation” however the benefit of this formation is that the liability of the corporation does not extend to the personal assets of the owner.

S – Corporation

An S – Corporation is comprised of the same formation that exists for a C – Corp. above save for one difference.  S – Corp. Status is an election made to have the corporation’s income and expenses taxed to the owner’s via “pass through” discussed above.  It offers the same liability safe havens as a general corporation, but avoids the “double taxation” that exists within a C – Corp.  There are limitations as to who may qualify for organization under an S – Corp.

Limited Liability Company

A Limited Liability Company; or LLC is a hybrid entity that combines the limited liability characteristics of a corporation with the beneficial tax structure of a partnership.  While requiring more formality and steps to create than a Sole Proprietorship or Partnership, an LLC enjoys the same flexibility that these entities share with regards to pass through taxation and ease of ownership decision making.  LLC’s also enjoy the benefits of corporate formation with regards to limitation of liability, while avoiding the rigidity of double taxation, required shareholder meetings, complex decision making, or issuance and management of stock.  Limited Liability Companies are popular among small business owners in the state of Georgia.

For more resources on starting your Georgia business, reference the Secretary of States “First Start Business Guide”, at https://sos.ga.gov/admin/files/First_stop_business_guide.pdf.  If you wish to retain legal help in evaluating, starting, or managing your Georgia small business or start-up, contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-671-4031 to discuss how we can assist you in creating your Georgia business today.

Please visit us on the web at www.thriftlegal.com.

#GAStartUpLawyer

Porsche’s Airport Hotel Is Pampering Dogs with Dinner and Drinks (Credit: Eater Atlanta)

Solis Two Porsche Drive hotel and Apron restaurant are going the extra mile with their menu offerings for dogs flying the friendly skies

Porsche’s posh Solis Two Porsche Drive hotel located at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport now offers “Sit, Stay, Solis” for guests traveling with their dogs. The Porsche Experience Center hotel provides an in-room dog bed, a dedicated dinner menu, and even a happy hour for dogs at Apron restaurant.

Upon check-in, guests traveling with their dogs will receive a dog bed, crate, and food and water bowls to keep their canines comfortable in their hotel rooms. Owners can then take their pups down to Apron’s dog-friendly patio for a special menu developed by executive chef Derrick Green with treats, ice cream, and “pupsicles.”

Once a month, Apron is hosting “Puptails on the Pawtio” where dogs are treated to grooming and training sessions while their owners listen to guest speakers and attend book signings. On-site adoptions days are also in the works. The next dog adoption day is scheduled for Saturday, August 18 with Lifeline Animal Project.

A $75 non-refundable pet fee is required upon check-in at the hotel. There is no weight limit for dogs staying at Solis Two Porsche Drive. Sorry, only two pets per room.

https://atlanta.eater.com/2018/7/23/17602122/two-solis-porsche-drive-dog-friendly-menu-atlanta

This Year’s Atlanta Metro Export Challenge to Launch With July 18 Event

The Atlanta Metro Export Challenge, which has distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2016 to help local exporters with their global sales journeys, is returning again this year with backing from JPMorgan Chase

Administered by the Metro Atlanta Chamber but open to firms from the 29-county region, the challenge will hold an information session and kickoff meeting at the NanoLumens office in Peachtree Corners at 4 p.m. July 18. 

There, potential participants will hear about how the challenge has helped companies hone their strategies and receive the financial boost needed to enhance existing sales or jumpstart international growth. 

And this recap won’t just be coming from the organizers: previous winners from the last two years will be on hand to provide their first hand testimonials about the experience. 

Many have said that the challenge — and the broader thinking it fosters — has catapulted their companies into positive new territory. 

One example is Triatek, which won last year’s pitch competition to the tune of $20,000 — and that was after the first-round victory that saw the maker of ventilation systems for hospitals and research labs take home $5,000. 

Triatek was bought by Johnson Controls Inc.  shortly after its export-challenge victory, and company leaders say having a global footprint, a process accelerated by the challenge, contributed substantially to its being seen as a promising acquisition target. 

Cars 360, another export-challenge winner with app used to take 360-degree photo for car sales listings, was acquired by Carvana, the company seeking disrupt the car dealership process through technology and simplicity. 

For interested companies, here’s how the process works: Companies apply for a grant by outlining practical plans on how they would use $5,000 to generate more export sales. Thirty will be selected as first-round winners, receiving reimbursements for expenses in sums up to that amount. Then, those winners will be invited back later in the year for a pitch competition for the possibility of winning an additional $5,000, $10,000, or $20,000. 

Start the application process here, and register for the informational event here

Editor’s note: Global Atlanta is an organizing partner of some Atlanta Metro Export Challenge events.

Dealing With The Commercial Foreclosure Process (Borrowers and Tenants)

If a commercial borrower (or commercial tenant) falls behind on commercial building payments (or lease payments), the lender or lessor can declare a default and foreclose on the property.  The execution of a mortgage or deed of trust (or lease agreement) creates a security interest in the property that gives the lender the right to start foreclosure proceedings to force a sale of the property (or eviction) upon the borrower’s failure to pay the loan/lease according to terms.  The good news is that lenders don’t like foreclosures because they’re costly and difficult. The bad news is that lenders won’t hesitate to foreclose on past due loans (or leases) if they aren’t given better options.

If you are a commercial property owner facing foreclosure, or a commercial tenant with a landlord in foreclosure, it is important to keep in mind that there are many legal intricacies involved with foreclosures.  It may be beneficial to employ the services of Thrift & McLemore to help you navigate the process and ensure that you fully understand your rights under the law.

Commercial foreclosures are, in most cases, very similar to residential foreclosures.  The foreclosure may be nonjudicial or judicial depending on the state where the property is located and what the loan documents dictate.  With both nonjudicial and judicial commercial foreclosures, the process starts when the borrower defaults on the mortgage.  A default occurs when the borrower falls behind in payments or fails to do something that the loan documents require.  After the default, the lender may accelerate, or call due, the outstanding balance on the loan.  Typically, the lender must first send a breach letter to the borrower that outlines the reason for default and gives a time frame during which the borrower may cure the default and avoid acceleration.  Usually, the amount of time given to cure a default is thirty days, but this can vary depending on the terms of the mortgage.  Once the time period expires, if the borrower has not cured the default, then the lender may commence foreclosure proceedings.

Tenants’ Rights Following a Commercial Foreclosure

The rights of any tenants in a foreclosed commercial property will depend on the terms of the lease and the date on which the lease was signed.  The tenant’s interest could potentially be terminated by a foreclosure due to the legal concept referred to as “first in time, first in right,” which allows the purchaser of a foreclosed property to void a lease if the mortgage was executed before the execution of the lease.

Many commercial leases contain a subordination, non-disturbance, and attornment agreement, or SNDA.  Under the terms of an SNDA, the tenant agrees to subordinate its interest in the lease to any lender making a loan secured by the commercial property; the tenant agrees to attorn to, or recognize, any new owner of the commercial property as its landlord; and any new owner of the commercial property agrees not to disturb the tenant’s possession of the property as long as the tenant pays rent and complies with the terms of the lease.  For tenants, an SNDA provides some assurance that their rights to their premises will be preserved even if the property is foreclosed.

-Options in Dealing with Foreclosures

The chances are that a commercial building loan is only a part of bigger financial problems.  Rather than delaying, a borrower should develop a game plan to deal with the situation immediately.  Options include:
  • Reorganizing, consolidating or even eliminating debts through proceedings that may include bankruptcy
  • Trying to work out a compromise with the lender
  • Selling the building

-Negotiating with the Lender

A lender may be willing to compromise.  Possible options include the following:
  • Different payment terms (lower payments over a longer period of time)
  • Forgiving some late payments now in exchange for a longer period of payment
  • Lower payments in exchange for a higher interest rate over a longer payment period
  • Refinancing at a lower interest rate (to make payments lower)

-Deeds In Lieu of Foreclosure

If a lender is unwilling to compromise, consider offering to convey the property back to the lender voluntarily by a “deed in lieu of foreclosure” (sometimes called “deed in lieu of forfeiture”).  A lender may be hesitant to accept a “deed in lieu” if state law provides a borrower with a right to redeem property for a certain period of time (e.g., up to a year later).

Thrift & McLemore Launches Commercial Collections Practice Area

Atlanta, GA – We are pleased to announce the launch of our Commercial Collections practice area.  Our new practice area specializes in handling commercial collections claims in commercial debt recovery and litigation.  Thrift & McLemore’s Commercial Collections practice includes open accounts, unsecured and secured loans, credit cards, automobile loans, student loans, foreign judgments, real property foreclosures and commercial claims.   We represent commercial creditors, financial institutions, government entities, insurance companies, service organizations and certain individuals in recovering commercial loans.

Thrift & McLemore is proud of our record of service to business clients.  The breadth and scope of our practice encompasses:

  • Sale of goods disputes
  • Dealer disputes
  • Distributor disputes
  • Collection on letters of credit
  • Issuing demand letters
  • Bankruptcy workouts
  • Litigation
  • Collection on business agreement defaults
  • Attachments
  • Garnishments

Working together, the location of tangible assets, existing contracts and employment, bank accounts, equity in inventory and other assets, may be located and serve as a basis for recovery.  We are dedicated to the proposition of being a vital part of a client’s credit and recovery.

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