News

Maryville Attorney Suspended for Three Years

A former Blount County commissioner was suspended Tuesday from practicing law for three years, reports the Citizen Tribune. The Board of Professional Responsibility has suspended Ted Austin “Tab” Burkhalter Jr., regarding a probate case in which he represented the executor of an estate, in which notarized a document with a forged signature. Burkhalter operates Burkhalter & Associates, serving as its managing partner.

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A Wellness Tip from the Attorney Well-Being Committee

Consider waking 10 minutes earlier so you can incorporate a brief mindfulness meditation into your preparations for the day. Set a timer for 3-10 minutes (depending on how much time you feel you want to use). Begin by sitting in a relaxed and comfortable but dignified and upright position, with your spine and head aligned. Place both feet on the ground, with legs uncrossed, and rest your hands gently on your lap. Gently close your eyes and allow yourself to notice the sensation of sitting in the chair, of your feet on the ground, of your hands resting in your lap.

Gently bring your attention to your breath, slowly taking a deep breath in, pausing briefly, then slowly exhaling. Now repeat this twice and as you do so, observe your breath as it goes in your nostrils and as it exits your nostrils. Sense the flow of air as it moves in and out, and the space between breaths. You may notice the air feels cool as you inhale, but warmer as you exhale.

Return to your normal breathing. Don’t try to change your breath, just continue to observe it, with a sense of curiosity. Allow yourself to feel your body relax and yield to gravity as you sit quietly in your chair, focusing on your breath. Notice any tense areas in your body and with your next breath, imagine it as a cool breeze touching those areas holding tension and as you exhale, release the tension along with the breath. Continue observing your breath.

When thoughts or concerns arise – as they inevitably will – simply acknowledge their presence, without judgment or opinion, and let them pass by while you gently bring your attention back to your breath. There is no need to grab hold of any thought right now -- just allow your breath to guide you back to the present moment.

Our minds will wander, as intrusive thoughts are constantly vying for our attention. When you realize this has happened, simply observe without judgment and gently guide your attention back to your breath. You might find it helpful to label the thought – “worry” “laundry” “clients” – then let it go and return to your breath. Although thoughts and feelings will come and go in the background, you can prevent them from highjacking your attention by simply acknowledging them without judgment, then gently returning to the breath and this present moment.

Julie Sandine is a graduate of Wake Forest School of Law. She serves as the Chair of the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee.

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Jury Leaves $4 to Family of Man Killed by Sheriff’s Deputy

A Florida jury last week awarded the estate of shooting death victim Gregory Vaughn Hill Jr. $4 in damages: $1 for funeral expenses and $1 for each of his three children’s loss, The New York Times reports. Hill was fatally shot by Christopher Newman, a sheriff’s deputy who had responded to a noise complaint about music Hill had been playing in his garage. The garage door was eventually closed and Newman fired four times through it, striking Hill once in the head and twice in the abdomen. Hill had a gun in his back pocket, which the deputies said he had been holding it during their confrontation, though that claim is in dispute. 
 
The wrongful-death lawsuit, filed in 2016, was asked to determine whether Hill’s constitutional rights had been violated and whether his estate should be awarded damages. Jurors determined that Newman had not used excessive force and concluded, but the St. Lucie County sheriff, Ken Mascara, had been ever so slightly negligent given Deputy Newman’s actions. A grand jury had previously determined not to bring criminal charges against Newman. The estate’s attorney, John M. Phillips, said that he is drafting a motion for a new trial and if the motion is denied, he will file an appeal.
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Legal Settlement to Benefit Tennessee Seniors

Tennessee seniors stand to benefit from a legal settlement that has been tied up in court for more than a decade, Nashville Public Radio reports. The settlement of $40 million stems from a suit involving two failed nonprofits, ElderTrust and SeniorTrust, formed by a major investor in Murfreesboro-based for-profit nursing home operators National HealthCare Corporation and National Health Investors, Inc. The organizations were accused by the Tennessee Attorney General of lacking truly charitable purposes and overcharging for their services. 
 
A settlement was reached in 2016, requiring the nonprofits to liquidate 14 properties, with the proceeds benefitting charitable purposes that would be determined by the court with help from the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability. The Davidson County Chancery Court Clerk and Master received 26 proposals for the money and chose six, including $13 million for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis, $12.5 million to charities assisting elderly with debilitating dental problems and an appropriation to legal services for seniors statewide.
 
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This Week: TBA General–Solo Section FastTrack Programming

TBA’s General–Solo Section will present its annual FastTrack programming, this Friday in Knoxville. These CLE opportunities are designed to provide you with up-to-date information on a diverse range of topics while allowing you to customize your learning to your schedule and fulfill all your Tennessee CLE requirements for the year. General–Solo–Small Firm Section members receive a discount to attend. Click here to register.

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Topgolf CLE: Estate Planning Tee-Off

The TBA Estate Planning and Probate Section will host a CLE event at Topgolf Nashville on June 26. The program will feature 2.5 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice. The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don't miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drives, all in one day!
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This Week: Elder Law Forum 2018

The 2018 TBA Elder Law Forum will return to the illustrious ‘batman’ building in downtown Nashville on Friday. This venerated forum offers top-notch programming, with essential information for both seasoned practitioners and attorneys interested in adding elder law to their practices. With topics such as succession planning, conservatorships, benefits and emerging trends in healthcare, this forum guarantees to be the must-see, must-do event for Tennessee attorneys who share this focus. Section members receive a discount to attend the program. Here are the key details:
 
• When: Friday, July 13, registration begins at 8 a.m., CDT
• Where: AT&T Building – Auditorium, 333 Commerce St., Nashville 
• CLE Credit: 4 General, 2 Dual
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How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Affects Estate Planning

A recent article on Lexology highlights changes to estate and gift taxes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which doubles those ‘death tax’ exemptions. The exemptions will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation and are set to expire in 2025.
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Funeral Service Thursday for Kingsport Attorney Jack Raulston

Kingsport lawyer Jackson C. “Jack” Raulston died on May 8. He was 91. A U.S. Navy veteran, Raulston graduated Vanderbilt Law School in 1952 after serving during World War II. He started his practice in Kingsport shortly afterwards and continued until his retirement in 2006. In 1961, Raulston became the youngest trial judge in Tennessee when he was appointed Judge Chancellor of the new Law and Chancery Court of Sullivan County. The family will receive friends from 4 to 7 p.m. CST on Wednesday at Rogers Funeral Home, 400 Laurel Ave, South Pittsburg. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday morning. In lieu of flowers, Raulston requested memorial contributions be made to Second Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California, the Human Rights Campaign, or the National AIDS Memorial Grove.
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Takacs, McGinnis Present Elder Care Program on WTVF

The Business of Dying

TBA Elder Law Section members Barbara McGinnis and Tim Takacs recently presented a piece titled “The Business of Dying” on WTVF – News Channel 5, Nashville. The discussion addresses death and the difficult and uncomfortable questions surrounding that topic, which make the already stressful situation even worse. You can view the presentation here.

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Share Your Thoughts on Proposed Amendments to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 6

The Supreme Court recently requested comment on proposed amendments to TSC Rule 6 that would require new attorneys to complete a Tennessee Law Course within one year of admission to the Tennessee bar. The Tennessee Bar Association has a working group on this issue and will be drafting comments in response to the court's Order for Comment. To ensure this comment best reflects members’ views and positions, the groups is looking for your feedback. Share your thoughts about the proposed amendments through this form by June 8.
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    Glen Campbell’s Widow Files to Protect Inheritance

    The wife of the late singer Glen Campbell made legal moves on Friday to assure she will receive at least 40 percent of his estate, The Tennessean reports. In a court filing, Kimberly Campbell asserted her right to invoke the provisions of state law that guarantees a widow a set percentage of her husband’s estate in the event he dies without a valid will. Three of Campbell’s children have challenged the validity of the will filed by Kimberly Campbell last year, which excluded those children from benefiting from his estate. 
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    Estate of Former Fox News CEO Seeks to Block Sexual Harassment Litigation

    The estate of Roger Ailes, former Chairman and CEO of Fox News, doesn't want to get dragged into ongoing sexual harassment litigation, The New York Daily News reports. On Tuesday, lawyers for Ailes' wife filed paperwork in Manhattan Supreme Court to prevent former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros pursuit of claims against his estate. A judge had ordered in March 2017 that Tantaros' allegations against Ailes and Fox News be handled in arbitration rather than court. The latest filing includes a request to stay arbitration. Ailes, who died on May 18, 2017, was involved in a number of sexual harassment lawsuits at the time of his death.
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    This Issue: Estate Planning, Banking and Nathan Bedford Forrest

    This month, the Tennessee Bar Journal welcomes the return of columnist Dan Holbrook, who wrote "Where There's a Will" from 2001 to 2012. Holbrook writes with Bradley C. Sagraves about the effects of tax reform on estate planning. Eddy Smith, who has taken a job in another industry, wrote the column for six years, keeping readers informed about updates in estate planning law. Thank you, Eddy and Dan! Also in this issue, banking columnist Kathryn Reed Edge details how to make banking accessible, and our humor columnist Bill Haltom asks: “Where in the world is Nathan Bedford Forrest?" Enjoy the April issue.

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    Tomorrow: Topgolf CLE – Estate Planning Tee-Off

    Register now for the second annual TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section Topgolf: Estate Planning Tee-Off tomorrow, June 19. The program will feature 3 hours of CLE programming, focused on information relevant to new attorneys interested in Estate Planning and lawyers who desire to add this area to their practice.
     
    The CLE package includes breakfast, lunch, plus two hours of Topgolf after the presentations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to build your practice knowledge and fine-tune your drive game, all in one day! 
     
    When: Wednesday, June 19, 9 a.m., CDT
    Where: Topgolf Nashville, 500 Cowan Street, Nashville, TN, 37207
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    D.C. Lawmakers Move to Undo Estate-tax Break

    The recent overhaul of the federal tax code that doubled the exemption from the estate tax, erasing the tax liability for individuals with estates worth less than roughly $11 million is being challenged by Democratic on the Washington, D.C., council, The Washington Post reports. Their proposal, supported by a majority of D.C. council members, would cut in half the estate-tax exemption in the nation’s capital, to $5.6 million. 
     
    The District had loosened its estate-tax exemption as part of wide-ranging tax cuts enacted in 2014. The cuts, funded by excess revenue, were intended to make the District more economically competitive with Maryland and Virginia. Under the new proposal, about $2.5 million of the resulting revenue would go to housing for victims of domestic violence, $1.5 million would be spent on housing vouchers and $1.25 million on education. An additional $500,000 would go to a program that helps poor families buy produce at farmers markets.
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    Metro Nashville Government to Pay $300,000 in Conservatorship Suit Involving Disbarred Attorney

    Metro Nashville government will pay $300,000 to settle a suit filed on behalf of a man who was cheated out of nearly $800,000 by a court-appointed conservator, reports The Tennessean. Former Nashville attorney John E. Clemmons was appointed as the conservator for William Link in 2003 and was placed in charge of Link’s estate following his death in 2004, with funds for the estate intended for allocation to Link's daughter, who has a disability. Clemmons would later plead guilty to stealing $1.3 million from wards and estates he had been appointed to oversee and protect in Davidson and Rutherford counties. He was disbarred in May 2014. After the crimes became public, attorney Paul Gontarek was appointed to replace him and subsequently filed suit against Metro government alleging that if the probate clerk had been monitoring Clemmons, the theft would not have occurred. "We are pleased with the settlement," Gontarek said, "and we appreciate the efforts of the Metro legal department to bring this matter to a conclusion."
     
    Metro government, however, argued that any claim against Metro should have been filed within one year of the last time Clemmons took money from the estate, which was in April 2013. Gontarek didn't file suit against Metro until 2014. Though the circuit court accepted Metro's argument, the appeals court rejected that conclusion stating "As we understand it, Metro's defense is predicated on the notion that Mr. Clemmons could have sued for the losses to the estate that stemmed from his own malfeasance. Respectfully we find such a proposition to be absurd," Justice Arnold Goldin wrote, adding that the suit filed by Gontarek was in fact "timely." The appeals court also rejected Metro's argument that it could not be held liable because a judgment already had been issued against Clemmons for the entire loss. The panel ruled that the comparative fault principle did not apply under the facts of the case stating, "Assuming liability can be established, Metro would be liable for the entire amount of damages.”
     
    A resolution authorizing the payment was approved without debate by Metro Council last week. Gontarek said that he expects the $300,000 payment to Link’s estate will be made in the near future. You can read the Court of Appeals opinion here.
     
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    Register Now for TBA Annual Convention in Memphis

    Don't forget to register for the Tennessee Bar Association’s Annual Convention in Memphis, June 13-16, at the Peabody Hotel. One highlight of the largest annual gathering of the Tennessee legal community will be a gubernatorial forum featuring candidates for the state’s highest executive office addressing issues of interest to the legal profession. Learn more or register now.


    Another Successful Estate Planning & Probate Forum!

    The TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section presented its annual forum to a packed house at the Embassy Suites in Franklin on Feb. 23. Through the dedication of the section and top-notch programming, this event has become a staple for not only estate planning and probate practitioners, but lawyers of associated practices as well. Thanks to the TBA Estate Planning & Probate Executive Council for their time and assistance with another remarkable forum. Stay tuned for more exciting events to come from this section!

    OFFICERS
    • Jennifer Exum, Chair, Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, Chattanooga
    • Michael Goode, Vice-Chair, Stites & Harbison, Nashville
    • Jeff Carson, Immediate Past Chair, Diversified Trust, Nashville
    MIDDLE TENNESSEE DELEGATES
    • Paul Hayes, Howard Mobley Hayes & Gontarek, Nashville
    • David Parsons, Attorney at Law, Nashville
    WEST TENNESSEE DELEGATE
    • Chris Coats, Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, Memphis
    EAST TENNESSEE DELEGATES
    • Victoria Tillman, McKinney & Tillman, Knoxville
    • Donald Farinato, Hodges, Doughty & Carson, Knoxville
    • Newman Bankston, Egerton, McAfee, Armistead & Davis, Knoxville
    • Angelia Nystrom, University of Tennessee Foundation, Knoxville

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    Harper Lee’s Estate Sues Over Broadway Version of ‘Mockingbird’

    The estate of Harper Lee has filed suit in Alabama federal court over producer Scott Rudin and acclaimed screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s depiction of Atticus Finch in the much-anticipated Broadway adaptation of novel To Kill A Mockingbird, reports The New York Times. The complaint asserts that Sorkin’s portrayal of the iconic Atticus Finch, the crusading lawyer who represents a black man unjustly accused of rape, presents him as a man who begins the drama as a naïve apologist for the racial status quo, a depiction at odds with his purely heroic image in the novel. 
     
    The contract the parties signed states that “the Play shall not derogate or depart in any manner from the spirit of the novel nor alter its characters.” Tonja B. Carter, the lawyer Lee appointed to run her estate, met with Rudin to express “serious concerns about the script,” specifically that Finch is depicted as “rude and selfish” as well as “more confrontational and far less dignified.” “This Atticus,” Carter wrote, “is more like an edgy sitcom dad in the 21st Century than the iconic Atticus of the novel.” The Rudin team is arguing that while the producers must listen to the estate’s view, they are the final arbiters of whether the production is faithful to the novel.
     
    "As far as Atticus and his virtue goes, this is a different take on Mockingbird than Harper Lee's or Horton Foote's," Sorkin told New York Magazine. "He becomes Atticus Finch by the end of the play, and while he's going along, he has a kind of running argument with Calpurnia, the housekeeper, which is a much bigger role in the play I just wrote. He is in denial about his neighbors and his friends and the world around him, that it is as racist as it is, that a Maycomb County jury could possibly put Tom Robinson in jail when it's so obvious what happened here. He becomes an apologist for these people” said Sorkin.
     
    This production will be the first time To Kill A Mockingbird has been performed on Broadway. The play is scheduled to open on Dec. 13. Click here to read the complaint in its entirety.
     
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    New Filings Add Fuel to Fight Over Late Singer Glen Campbell’s Estate

    A new disclosure of interest filed last week over the estate of singer Glen Campbell appointed a temporary administrator and uncovered assets previously unknown to the public, The Tennessean reports. Stanley Schneider, who was Campbell’s accountant and later manager, was named administrator, in an order that bars Schneider from disposing of or encumbering the late singer’s stake in the Arizona Diamondbacks baseball club. Three of Campbell’s children are contesting the will, which was filed by Campbell’s spouse, Kimberly.
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    Author Harper Lee’s Will Unsealed

    An Alabama court has unsealed the will of Harper Lee, though it has not answered key questions about the late To Kill a Mockingbird author’s estate, the ABA Journal reports. Lee’s estate withdrew its opposition to a New York Times lawsuit seeking its disclosure, prompting the unsealing. Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, was named executor and holds “wide-ranging powers” over Lee’s assets. Though the will did little to solve any mysteries, another new source of information might. Emory University has purchased letters written by Lee to one of her friends between 1956 and 1961, which Emory says are “revealing” and “significant.”
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    Powers of Attorney 2.0 Online CLE

    In this online video, attorney Barbara Moss will talk about financial powers of attorney. She will also discuss the durable power of attorney act, appointment of conservator, effects of death, disability or incapacity, and gifting. 
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    Correction of TBA Connect Item

    In a Connect newsletter sent Monday, we mistakenly linked to the legislation as introduced instead of the actual language of the law as enacted in 2016, which is below and is still in effect:
     
    • Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 34-3-107(a)(2), is amended by adding the following new subdivision (P):
     
    (P) The right to communication, visitation, or interaction with other persons, including the right to receive visitors, telephone calls, or personal mail;
     
    • Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 34-3-108, is amended by adding the following new subsection (f):
     
    (f) Any person listed in § 34-3-103(1)-(4) may petition the court to require the conservator to grant any of the rights provided in § 34-3-107(a)(2)(P). The prevailing party in a petition under this subsection (f) shall be entitled to court costs and reasonable attorney fees.
     
    • Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 34-3-107, is amended by adding the following as a new subsection:
     
    (c) If a respondent is unable to express consent to communication, visitation, or interaction with a person due to a physical or mental condition, then consent of the respondent may be presumed based on the respondent's prior relationship history with the person.
     
    In addition, on March 13, 2017, Governor Haslam signed into law Public Chapter 24 removing “Campbell” from its name. 
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    Elate & Libate

    The Estate & Probate section will host an "Elate & Libate" cocktail hour immediately following the Estate Planning & Probate Forum 2018 in the Embassy Suites Franklin Atrium. Join friends, colleagues and fellow section members for a drink on us!
     
    What better way to relax and unwind after a full day of CLE fun. Drink tickets will be provided for TBA Estate Planning & Probate Section members. Forum participation not required to attend the happy hour. Contact Jarod Word for more info. 
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