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How Far Do Religious Obligations Burden Employers?

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By Xavier T. Romero

​By right, each U.S. citizen enjoys the protections of the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the United States Constitution. These Clauses seek to find a happy medium between allowing each person to practice their sincerely held religious beliefs without restriction and ensuring that the government does not go so far as to support any one religion in a preferential manner. These Clauses apply to state and federal government action only and set the floor for which the legislature can further extend protections. Congress did so when it passed Title 42 § 2000 as part of the Civil Rights Act, which extends liability to private employers for "disparate treatment" based on one's faith. So, how far must private employers go to accommodate their employees' religious requests that might conflict with workplace policies? What may seem like a difficult predicament for employers, at first, is really not as intimidating.

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153 Hits

Re-Thinking the Invocation of Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

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By David L. Walker, Jr. 

As the most recent "wave" of Covid-19 and/or Covid-19 variants moves across the country, many courthouses that had only recently re-opened for jury trials and in-person hearings are once again shutting their doors. While judges across the State seem to be acting in good faith to make decisions regarding these issues, the inevitable consequence is that the opportunity for parties to resolve their civil business disputes in front of a jury of their peers will likely remain forestalled for the foreseeable future.

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  195 Hits
195 Hits

Georgia Businesses Should Be Ready to Capitalize on the Imminent End to the Labor Shortage

 By Nicholas P. Flint

​Employers across Georgia and indeed the U.S. are struggling in the fight against our country's self-inflicted labor shortages and increasing prices of products from chicken to lumber. The double-whammy is hitting small businesses especially hard, who are less able than their (curiously pro-federal dole-out) multinational counterparts, to absorb these higher product costs while dealing with a workforce who makes more money from government subsidies while staying at home than going into the workplace.

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  201 Hits
201 Hits

A Tree Falls and Causes Damage to Persons and Property—Who is Liable?

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 By Lindsey C. Franklin

​When a tree or limb falls and causes damage to property or persons, who is liable for the damages? The answer under Georgia law can be complicated, but generally depends on the answers to three questions:

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  562 Hits
562 Hits

New Tax Proposals

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 By John A. Meier, II

​Imbedded within all the news about Covid and other domestic issues can be found news about new tax proposals. However, much of that news is very confusing. If you search "Biden Tax Hikes" on the internet, your search will return over 31 million hits. With this much information, there is little chance that the average person can understand what is truly being proposed. However, there appears to be some proposals that are receiving a lot of attention. The most significant proposals that affect many of our clients are the increase of the maximum income tax rates, including the capital gains rate, and the elimination of the step-up in basis of inherited assets. Changing the rates is simple; just change the rate(s). Tax rates have been increased and decreased many times over the years and will change yet again. Congress certainly seems to know how to change tax rates! Making changes with long-standing cost basis concepts will be more difficult.

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  231 Hits
231 Hits

Tax Sales: Untapped Market with Significant Returns?

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​By Cody W. Lyons

As the recovery from the Great Recession began, and with the introduction of many television programs depicting "house-flippers" earning huge profits on distressed homes purchased at foreclosure auctions, many new investors have entered the market of acquiring assets through judicial and non-judicial foreclosure sales. These foreclosure sales are often conducted by lenders on the courthouse steps after a borrower has defaulted on one or more of its obligations to a lender. A relatively newer and lesser-known type of asset acquisition opportunity is government-imposed tax sales.​

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  468 Hits
468 Hits

Traps for Unwary Landowners: Selling Undeveloped Land to Developers

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By Nicholas P. Flint

In response to a number of recent factors, from COVID-19 to riots and higher inner-city crime rates, many states across the country are experiencing a new wave of "urban flight" (see https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-new-urban-flight-11592777032). In Georgia, the suburbs of Atlanta and even rural parts of the state have seen a sharp uptick in demand for existing and new housing, mostly from Atlantans seeking refuge and additional space.

Residential real estate prices are through the roof, and subdivision developers are licking their chops, especially with the relatively large supply of undeveloped land as compared to urban areas. The result: developers cannot buy land and build houses fast enough.
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  367 Hits
367 Hits

Use of Separate Writings for Gifts of Personal Property

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​By John A. Meier, II

It is official: You can now use letters or lists to convey personal property to others as part of your estate planning. Effective January 1, 2021 the laws in Georgia changed to make the use of writings that are not part of a Last Will and Testament, such as letters or lists, binding on the Personal Representative of an estate (such as the Executor) and the other beneficiaries named in the Will. The use of gift letters and lists has always been fairly common practice, but those letters and lists were not legally binding on the Executor or beneficiaries. In many situations, the beneficiaries honored the wishes of the person writing the letter or list. However, if a beneficiary did not like the way the gifts were to be made as set forth in the letter or list, the Personal Representative could not be made to honor the deceased person wishes.

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  559 Hits
559 Hits

A New Tool to Fight Government Takings: Declaratory Judgments

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​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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  366 Hits
366 Hits

Guardianship for Your Special Needs Child

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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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  551 Hits
551 Hits

Protect Your Investment: Purchase and Sale of Commercial Real Estate

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​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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  486 Hits
486 Hits

Biden Tax Plan Legal Advisory

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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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  509 Hits
509 Hits

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

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 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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  462 Hits
462 Hits

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

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 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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  501 Hits
501 Hits

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

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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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  1727 Hits
1727 Hits

A Breakdown of Shared Property Rights

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​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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  1786 Hits
1786 Hits

The Rights of Neighbors After Re-Zoning Decisions

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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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  501 Hits
501 Hits

Buyer Be Informed

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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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  503 Hits
503 Hits

Halloween Legal Myths

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By John A. Meier, II

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

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  586 Hits
586 Hits

Estate Planning for Your Modern Blended Family

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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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  551 Hits
551 Hits