News

Tennessee Senior Law Alliance Expands Legal Help for Seniors

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services, in cooperation with several legal aid providers, is taking a coordinated approach to assisting Tennessee seniors facing legal problems, according to a press release on its website. The Tennessee Senior Law Alliance will partner with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Memphis Area Legal Services and West Tennessee Legal Services in effort to reach all 95 Tennessee counties, helping seniors identify and resolve core legal issues such as wrongfully reduced or denied access to benefits and health care; illegal barriers to obtaining and maintaining safe and secure housing; physical, emotional and financial abuse and exploitation; and a lack of help with basic estate planning such as creating wills, advance directives and powers of attorney. You can learn more about the program using this link.

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Next Thursday: Elder Law Basics

The annual Elder Law Basics program will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on Sept. 13. Designed for attorneys new to practice or those looking to refresh their skills, the program focuses on the ins and outs of public benefits as they pertain to seniors, and the latest developments and changes in this field. Earn up to four hours of CLE.
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Destination CLE Survey

Let's take a trip! The TBA CLE Committee would like your feedback on destination CLE events. Taking a moment to complete this brief survey will greatly assist us in developing the best CLE experience for you. Please complete this survey by Aug. 10. We greatly appreciate your help with this endeavor.
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Tax Law Forum 2018

The annual Tax Law Forum will be held at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville on Sept. 17. Sessions will focus on the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Topics include the new pass-through entity tax law, an overview of the changes to international tax law, corporate and other business tax changes as well as non-profit law changes.

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Trump Administration Freezes Affordable Care Act Payments

In a surprise move on Saturday, the Trump administration announced that it will be temporarily halting billions of dollars of “risk adjustment” payments, designed to help insurers meet the Affordable Care Act requirement of providing coverage regardless of whether a person is healthy or sick, reports NPR. The program assists in determining risk for insurers, transferring funds from those who enroll healthier members for relatively less, to those that take on higher costs to enroll sicker members, insulating insurance companies from the cost of enrolling people with pre-existing conditions. Some critics fear that the recent action could spur a spike in insurance premiums for 2019.

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Anthony Bourdain Leaves Bulk of Estate to Daughter

Celebrity chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide in June, left most of his estate to his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane Busia-Bourdain, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. Bourdain named ex-wife Ottavia Busia executor of the $1.2 million estate, which is far below previous estimates of his net worth. Some reports claim that the Bourdain/Busia divorce was not finalized, which could open the estate up to a legal dispute.

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Schedule Time to Read Email

A tip from the TBA Attorney Well-Being Committee

Rather than checking on every e-mail as it arrives, schedule time in your calendar for reading and managing e-mail (and leave e-mail notifications silent during the other times of the day). This will enable you to have focused time for given tasks without constant interruption and distraction.
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Michael S. Goode to Chair Estate Planning & Probate Section for the 2018–19 Bar Year

Michael S. Goode has dedicated his legal career to helping businesses and families with their tax, business and estate planning needs, working closely with advisors, banks and trust companies to provide innovative solutions to clients' wealth preservation needs. Goode co-founded the Chattanooga chapter of the Succession Planning Professionals and is a member of the Atlanta chapter. Goode has also written pension legislation under Georgia law for a large county school district and represented an estate client before the Supreme Court of Georgia in a case that caused a shift in Georgia law regarding the interpretation of Wills. Goode received his JD from The College of William and Mary, and his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University. Please join us in welcoming your Estate Planning & Probate Section Chair for the 2018–19 bar year.

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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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