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A New Tool to Fight Government Takings: Declaratory Judgments

​By Michael P. Bain

In Georgia, if a County, City, or governmental agency takes or affects your property or property rights without first filing a condemnation lawsuit and without paying you for the property taken and any damages caused, then you can file a lawsuit called an "inverse condemnation" action against that government. Such an inverse condemnation action has been, until recently, the only means by which to ensure the government does not completely violate your constitutional rights by its acts. As of January 1, 2021, however, attorneys representing landowners have a new tool in their toolkit: a declaratory judgment action.​

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20 Hits

Guardianship for Your Special Needs Child

By Lindsey C. Franklin

​In Georgia, a child becomes a legal adult when he or she turns 18. At that time, your child will be legally able to make decisions on their own behalf, including such things as signing a lease agreement, entering into contracts, and exercising other such legal rights. For parents of children with special needs, this milestone presents a moment at which the parents must decide whether their child is capable of caring for his or her own needs. Depending on the severity of a child's special needs and other factors, parents may decide to petition the court for guardianship and/or conservatorship to retain the ability to make decisions about their child's healthcare, housing, food, clothing, and financial matters.

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162 Hits

Protect Your Investment: Purchase and Sale of Commercial Real Estate

​By Cody W. Lyons

​Commercial real estate purchase and sale agreements, or PSAs, often appear overwhelming and complex, typically consisting of numerous pages of contingencies and 6-month or greater due diligence periods. Therefore, it is imperative to protect your interests at the outset, whether you are acting as a purchaser or a seller of commercial property. There are always obvious points of contention between a purchaser and a seller of real estate: Purchase price, due diligence period, contingencies, etc. Nonetheless, certain methods may be employed to protect a purchaser or seller that do not necessarily generate opposition or controversy from the other party to the transaction.

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100 Hits

Biden Tax Plan Legal Advisory

By Anthony Cammarata Jr.

​With Democrats now in control of both the U.S. House and Senate, there are a host of changes to the tax laws that could be passed by Congress in the near future. President Biden's various tax proposals and intentions (collectively, the "Biden Plan") are comprehensive and contain propositions ranging from individual income tax increases to corporate tax reform, which will result in higher taxes for corporations as well. This advisory is meant to highlight some of the Biden Plan proposals for which individuals and companies should start seeking professional legal and tax-planning advice in preparation of their enactment.

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201 Hits

A New Year's Resolution for Landlords: Start Preparing Now for a Potential Bubble Burst

 By Anthony Cammarata Jr. and Nicholas P. Flint

​While many of us may be happily leaving 2020 behind, the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately may follow us. In particular, the ramifications from missed or otherwise deferred rent payments are threatening a significant portion of the U.S. renting population, and the eviction bans previously put in place by questionable government "orders" that have protected tenants will soon expire. A bubble may be forming in the U.S. real estate market, and it is imperative that residential and commercial landlords plan now for a potential burst of that bubble in the new year.

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181 Hits

Financing for Your Small Business: SBA Loans You Need to Know About (Part I - SBA 7(a))

 By Andrew T. Smith

​At some point over the life of a company, entrepreneurs will likely need to obtain financing in connection with the operations of their businesses. A business may need additional capital to replenish inventory, acquire machinery and equipment, cover wages for employees, or even make monthly rent payments to avoid an interruption in operations. When it comes to business financing, "SBA Loan" is a term that every business owner should be familiar with.

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  179 Hits
179 Hits

Georgia, It’s Time to Get Serious About Series LLCs

By Nicholas P. Flint

​​In recent years, limited liability companies (LLCs) have emerged as the predominate form of business entity in Georgia and throughout the United States, outpacing the number of new corporations formed by a margin of nearly five to one. LLCs offer a number of benefits, including flexibility and ease of operation, limited liability, and pass-through taxation.

When it comes to limitation of liability, generally speaking the members of an LLC are not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the LLC. But while LLC members are not themselves personally liable for the LLC's debts, the assets owned by the LLC are still subject to being seized to satisfy the debts of the LLC. Therefore, particularly in the context of real estate, business owners will often form one LLC per parcel of real estate or project, in order to limit the liability to that property alone, since only the assets owned by that LLC would be subject to claims or lawsuits arising against that LLC. However, there are costs and administrative burdens associated with forming and maintaining a number of separate LLCs.

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294 Hits

A Breakdown of Shared Property Rights

​By Rebecca N. Ciupak

For many people, one of the biggest milestones in life is buying a home, and that moment becomes even more special when it involves buying a home with a significant other. But did you know that there are several options for dividing ownership of property where more than one person is involved? In fact, the property rights an individual holds after purchasing property often hinge on which form of ownership the parties choose.

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  225 Hits
225 Hits

The Rights of Neighbors After Re-Zoning Decisions

By Cody W. Lyons

​Zoning is a vast and complex arena of law which can be discussed at length; this article merely highlights the rights of property owners and the procedures to follow when a property owner has been victimized by an unfavorable re-zoning decision. Generally, zoning commissions are bound by a comprehensive plan, which is designed to operate as a guidebook for future uses of land based on present and foreseeable needs of the community. However, local zoning boards are given a large amount of discretion and too often stray away from the comprehensive plan when doing so suits their personal interests or preferences.

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215 Hits

Buyer Be Informed

By David L. Walker, Jr.

​My colleagues and I have written in the past about the doctrine of caveat emptor, which is commonly understood to mean "buyer beware." The term references the legal premise that a buyer of real estate is responsible for inspecting the property and structures that are on it to determine whether there are any defects or other conditions on the property that would interfere with its suitability for the use and needs contemplated by a buyer. Absent some form of fraudulent concealment or active misconduct by a seller, a buyer takes the property "as is" with no remedy for defects in the property.

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199 Hits

Halloween Legal Myths

 By John A. Meier, II

​With Halloween being near, these are some legal Myths that may be of interest:

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315 Hits

Estate Planning for Your Modern Blended Family

By Lindsey C. Franklin 

​Remarriage after divorce creates uniquely blended family units that often involve navigating relationships with stepparents and children from previous marriage(s). Having complex family relationships, however, does not mean that your estate planning cannot be crafted to meet the needs of your blended family upon your death. These key estate planning tips are some of the many strategies that can help you avoid legal and financial headaches in the future:

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274 Hits

Prelude to an Eminent Domain Lawsuit: The Administrative Review Conference

By Michael P. Bain

​If the government wants your property for a road or some other public project, you will usually be approached first by a negotiator. If you are unable to get the price you want from a negotiator, your next step, in many instances, is an administrative review. This "review" procedure is offered by the Georgia Department of Transportation, as well as many counties and municipalities, who view it as a last chance to reach an agreement before filing a lawsuit. The person whose property is sought by the government will usually receive a letter advising that you have ten days to ask for a review. The letter will request that the recipient provide the condemning authority with the lowest amount you are willing to accept to sell your property or rights, and will ask for support of these contentions. Once a timely response is sent, follow-up communication from an administrative review officer is usually sent to set up a time to discuss the property.

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  329 Hits
329 Hits

Choosing the Right Attorney to Handle Your Personal Injury Case

By John F. Connolly 

​So, you have the misfortune to be in a motor vehicle accident. Maybe a distracted driver turned left in front of you, or someone on a cell phone ran into your bumper from behind, or, worse, a drunk driver hit you on the interstate. Whatever the circumstances, you now face medical bills, missed time from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with a back injury, broken arm, muscle spasms, sore ribs, or whatever other injury you may have suffered in the accident.

As you face these issues, you may find yourself with many questions: Who pays for my medical bills? How do I get my car fixed? When can I get back to work? Do I really have to deal with that insurance adjuster? Should I get a lawyer?

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280 Hits

Frequently Asked Questions for Employers Regarding COVID-19

By Anthony Cammarata Jr. 

While it may feel as if we have been dealing with the novel coronavirus pandemic for a long time now, developments in COVID-19 guidance and regulations pertaining to employers are still relatively new and unclear. There have been times during this pandemic where I have had to reluctantly provide my corporate clients with the typical lawyer answer: "It depends." Unfortunately the laws regarding COVID-19 and how they will be interpreted and applied are still relatively unsettled and continually evolving, and it will take some time before enough cases have worked their way through the system to give us a clearer picture of the landscape.

That being said, at this point we can provide some basic guidance to employers on how they should handle certain situations. Below are several answers to frequently asked questions I have received from clients about the latest developments on the virus and its effects on the workplace:
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334 Hits

When the Seller Should Beware

By Nicholas P. Flint

​This article was published in the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News on September 6, 2020: Tribune Ledger News - FROM THE BENCH & BAR.

​You have owned and operated a successful business for years. A potential buyer has just put a 60-page purchase agreement in front of you. The price is right and everything looks great to you, but what about all that "fine print" in the back?

Everyone knows the adage "buyer beware". However, in a business sale, it is often the sellers who find themselves facing more liability after closing than they expected or negotiated for, who should beware.

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259 Hits

The “Opportunity Zone” of a Lifetime: Investment Without the Capital Gains

By Andrew T. Smith 

​Through the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ("TCJA"), the federal government incentivized the development of economically distressed areas by offering substantial tax breaks, including the indefinite deferral of capital gain taxes, to individuals investing in real estate located in these communities. Accordingly, Qualified Opportunity Zones ("QOZ") were created, being defined by the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") as "economically-distressed communities where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment." The IRS has designated more than 8,700 Federal Opportunity Zones in fifty (50) States, the District of Columbia, and five (5) U.S. territories, including 260 census tracts in the State of Georgia.

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  321 Hits
321 Hits

COVID-19 Liability Claims and How to Protect Your Business

By Cody W. Lyons 

​Over the last several months, our nation has experienced one of the largest economic shocks in history, with small businesses being hit the hardest. After months of steeply declining revenues due to mandatory closures and public fear, countless small businesses have had to shut their doors permanently. For the fortunate businesses that have been able to survive thus far, however, countless threats remain. A study recently published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA found that approximately 75% of the small businesses studied only had enough cash on hand to last for two months or less  (https://www.pnas.org/content/117/30/17656). With the extreme uncertainty businesses are facing today, it is now more important than ever to protect yourself and your business from liability.

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  560 Hits
560 Hits

Documents Everyone Needs Now More Than Ever

 By John A. Meier, II

Since the emergence of COVID-19, our lives have changed in ways that were almost impossible to imagine outside of science-fiction novels and movies. Rather than discuss the legal aspects of the virus and actions taken by local, state, and federal governments and agencies, I want to share some examples of how effective planning can help individuals and families when unexpected events occur.

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376 Hits

Riding the Wave of Conflicts and Contradictions Regarding Lien Waivers: Georgia Legislature Deems Statutory Lien Waivers Do Not Waive Contractor Rights to Sue

By Lindsey C. Franklin

​The Georgia legislature recently unanimously approved and passed Senate Bill (SB) 315 to clarify and limit the scope of statutory interim and final lien waivers pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-14-366. This action was taken in light of the recent Georgia Court of Appeals decision ALA Constr. Servs., LLC v. Controlled Access, Inc., 351 Ga. App. 841, 833 S.E.2d 570 (2019). The Court's opinion in that case caused ripples of confusion in construction lien law by holding that Georgia's statutory lien waiver operated to waive all rights a contractor has to payment, including breach of contract claims. This decision uprooted the longstanding belief within the construction industry that lien waivers only applied to lien and bond rights and did not encumber a contractor's other rights to payment. In response to the ALA Constr. Servs. ruling, the 2020 Lien Law Revisions Drafting Committee authored the following changes to O.C.G.A. § 44-14-366 to clarify the language of the statute:

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716 Hits