Intro Speaker: It’s time for Kelly can help hosted by Jeff Kelly, Attorney along with the law office of Jeffrey B. Kelly. And now here’s Jeff Kelly.
Jeff Kelly: All right, got David lovebirds our show today. David, what I’d like to do is introduce you to my clients and my listeners. And if you don’t mind, just tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice and your area of specialty.
David Blevins: Well, it’s good to be here, Jeff, it’s good to be here. The I’ve been practicing for 35 years all here in Dalton, I got out of the University of Georgia law school. My practice now consists of really two areas of emphasis. I do car wrecks and personal injury, which is what I’ve traditionally done for 34 years. But in the last five or six years, in particular, I have done a lot of probate and estate work. And I’ve done probate litigation. And you know, I kind of backed into it, you know, I never plan to do this. But my wife, we practice all together. From the 80s. After I first child was born, she was practicing in Chattanooga, but she was the probate lawyer. And I had a large probate practice. And so in cases we go sour, I was doing litigation. So she would say I would just come into the office and and be a file on my desk. And pretty soon I realized that was a probate case and now needed litigation. So that’s kind of how I learned to do it. And I’ve been doing that about 20 years, and then I’ve just gotten into compliance for about five or six years.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent. Excellent. And let’s see here. What you where’d you go for undergrad?
David Blevins: I went to Carson College in Jefferson City, Tennessee.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent.
David Blevins: Alabama school up in East Tennessee. But 30 miles above Knoxville.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah, that school good school. So how did you end up from Carson Newman to the University of Georgia?
David Blevins: Well, that’s a good, that’s a good question. I was when I got an undergraduate, I was dead, broke and needed a job. So I was behind a girl sitting behind me in church one Sunday. And she told me she said that her mother was a teacher in the Atlanta area, and encouraged me to apply for a mother was a teacher in the Douglas County School System.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: So I did because I was desperate and you couldn’t buy a job back in 1979. So I applied in the fall of 79. And by God’s great grace and Providence, they had an opening. One of the teachers was one of the history teachers there at Lithia Springs High School was taking a job as a principal at another school. They had an opening and by the grace of God, they hired me. So I started in December of 1979, teaching history and social studies, and wound up teaching history and math, algebra geometry at Lithia Springs High School. So I became an in State student and as a as a poor college student and a poor teacher. I needed a school that I can afford. So I applied and was accepted to the University of Georgia. I’d like to tell you platings, the University of Georgia because I knew it was a great school. I applied because there’s only one I can afford. But it turned out that it wasn’t a great school. And so it was a great experience.
Jeff Kelly: Hoe many years did you teach?
David Blevins: I taught three years I taught math. I was taught well, history, my first year 79-80 school year.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: And then they found out that I had a math minor. So I got drafted to teach geometry and algebra, as well as American history my last two years, so I taught for three years total.
Jeff Kelly: So is your plan all along to go to law school, or?
David Blevins: No, it was it was not so that’s a good question. I did pretty well in the wall classes like common law as an undergraduate. Yeah. And so my advisor and common law teacher Professor encouraged me to go to law school. And so I I finally talked me into it. So I filled out an application and I paid to go take the the the LSAT, the law school interested entrance exam.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: Well, I decided the meantime I really didn’t want to do that because I thought the law would be too tedious. And that was my professors go anyway. So I didn’t study I didn’t do any reviews. I didn’t do anything. The Saturday morning that the LSAT will be offered there on campus in Carson Newman. I woke up early Lucas salen looked at the clock and said, You know if I go to the cafeteria, I can make it and I’ve already paid for it. So I’m Kwan on. So I got out of bed and went and took the LSAT. I didn’t do super well on it. Because I’ve never even taken a practice test yet. But I was able to get into I was accepted. They said, Where do you want to send your grades? And I said, UT was the only place I knew, which is where some good company with wall school. That’s right. That’s right. You You didn’t graduate. So I was accepted to UT Law School. And but I decided not to go, I was too broke to go. I literally was too bright. I didn’t have I didn’t have any way to sustain myself while I was in law school. So I got a teaching job. And I considered being an engineer. I went and interviewed with the folks at Georgia Tech about being an engineer.
Jeff Kelly: Wow.
David Blevins: I interviewed with a few seminaries about doing a PhD in in, in church history. Plot. It was accepted to the graduate program, a Ph. D. program at University of Georgia. And I went over there and a madman decided I wanted to be a college history professor. And Dr. Holmes, the chairman, the department, when he told me he’d be glad for me to come and they offered me part of the money they offered me. I said, Well, Dr. Holmes, do you think I’ll be able to get a job doing what you’re doing when I get a PhD from here? And he looked at the floor and said, I must be honest, and they looked at me. So I knew it wouldn’t be good. So on my way back to Douglasville, from Athens, God, and I had to talk in my Volkswagen, about the necessity of eating. And so I didn’t go do the PhD program. I applied to law school the next year and was accepted to the University Georgia law school. And that’s, that’s how I got there.
Jeff Kelly: And that’s how you know the rest of the story.
David Blevins: That’s right.
Jeff Kelly: How’d you meet your wife?
David Blevins: Well, my first my second year in law school. Well, my first year in law school, I joined Christian legal society, and it worked in Christian legal society a lot. And they elected my best friend, john lewis, to be the president of Christian legal society. A second year, the Office of Christian legal society, we’re always second years. The third years, we’re too sorry to do anything. So you know, they’re just like Haskell seniors, plus, we had the bar back in those days. You took the bar year and February of your last year. So the first semester you study for the bar, the second semester, you weren’t, we’re shooting. So in the first year, don’t know what’s going on. So the second years, we’re always officers. So john was elected president. I was like the vice president. And so when we had the Christian legal social in the fall, a really, really, really pretty girl named Sherry Henson showed up and one of them was interested in coming to Christian legal society. So I just I said, I check that out. And I’ve been checking that out ever since.
Jeff Kelly: Excellent. All right. Well, and you’re in your practice now. Who is your typical client? Now?
David Blevins: The typical client now is it depends on but that’s a great question. On the probate side, it’s mainly just middle class folks.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: I do some of the larger estates. But typically, it’s somebody that’s leaving a house and got three kids and a dog and a 401 K and two vehicles. And they’ll come in to eat or the family will come in to probate, the will or the estate, or they will come in to do their wills and do their estate plans. So on that side, that would be typically I just, I represent Middle America, just I really just common folks. And then on the car wreck sad. It’s anybody. Or you have to be in a car wreck and somebody run a red light and hit you.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
David Blevins: so some of those are that they run the range from people that are that do not have any means at all to folks that are very wealthy.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah. All right. Um, you know, I have a lot of clients who they just really put off getting a will at you. What do you tell my clients? What happens to them when somebody dies? And there is no Will, why do they need to get one?
David Blevins: Um, very often it’s a mess. And this is this is why I’ll start with the young folks. Young people often think they don’t need wills. They don’t need wills, because I don’t have a whole lot. The bank is, you know, I’ve got a house, I’ve got a car, but it is mortgage. So don’t, you know? Well, first of all, hopefully, your life insurance is going to take care of that. But you have two reasons why, when you’re young, you needed to have a will. First, if you have children. And let’s say you and your spouse are killed in a car. If that happens, typically, the mother’s family and the dads family get both want the child. So you’re going to have a judge, you want to have a 45 minute hearing. And they’re going to decide who’s going to take care of your child for the rest of their lives. You know, that, you know, who should take care of your child far better than the judge does. And the judge will be very relieved if you took that burden away. And so it may not even be, it might not be one of your in laws, they might not be the best fit. They may be because of their age or their circumstance. They might not be even a family member. But it but if it is, the parents of that child need to set that out because that’s their responsibility.
David Blevins: And the second is people think young people think that if I die, then what I have what we’ve worked for goes to my wife, not necessarily. Georgia law says that a surviving spouse gets a child’s part of the estate. First, they get all these state if there’s no children, but if there’s any children, they get a child’s part but least but at least a third. So let’s say that you’ve got two minor children, if you got two children, and they can be ages two, and five, and your dad, then your wife, or your husband doesn’t own that house, they own a third of that house. And maybe they need to move, maybe they need to change, relocate for a job, whatever the case might be, well, they haven’t gotten they’ve got a problem. So in the house, because they own it with their children. And then the proceeds of that house, instead of going to, to take care of the family necessity, if you want to have a put into conservatorship accounts for the children. And the truth is the surviving spouse can probably spend that money for the kids and maintain a home better than a court can do with supervision.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
David Blevins: but if you don’t mind for all of us, that’s that’s what happens. Now, for the older people with folks that are, let’s say in their 30s 40s and 50s. What happens, especially if you’ve got families, children by different marriages, well, if you let’s say, you’re married, and to a lady that has a small child, and you raise that child, you may want that child to share in your state, if something happens to you and your wife, especially if you work through it together, if you if you leave a will, you can do that. If you don’t leave a will that child gets nothing. And so often happens is that once spouse survives the and has to share that with children grown children, which may or may not be good. And then or they may get the surviving spouse may get it also will but then that will leave one set of children out. So a well thought out we’ll use is really vital to long term family harmony. You know what I do is I I take care of families. I’m not taking care of property.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah, yeah,
David Blevins: really. But we’re taking care of people.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
David Blevins: wills and probate is a people business. It’s not a paper business. Most folks in law school think it’s a paper business. But if you do your will right and take care of your family, right. What you can do is keep down a lot of conflict and hard feelings and heartache among your children as brothers and sisters, between your stepchildren and their mother. All that can be well managed with a well thought out will
Jeff Kelly: about when people do get into a fight over an estate. Would you say that the cost of you know litigating in a state where there is no will is going to greatly exceed the cost of doing the will if somebody just thought ahead.
David Blevins: Oh, absolutely. We’ll take We’ll package here starts at about $750 and goes up to about 2000. Unless you need some some complicated tax stuff. And I quoted a state litigation the other day at 15 to 20,000.
Jeff Kelly: Wow. That’s a huge difference. Wow. What am I waiting for? give me any clients where you plan for, you know, maybe they’ve got a spouse, a child who’s not so great with with money, and maybe they might need somebody to manage that money for them. So they don’t inherit it and just kind of run off and blow it. Do you do trust and things like that?
David Blevins: Yes, we do. We do a testamentary trust, we do some inter vivos trust here, that means that while in life, but often, most of the time, those are testamentary trusts. And that comes up in two ways, often is age, you know, dumping a few $100,000 or an 18 year old is just not a good thing to do. You’re better off to put the money in a pile and burn it. Because you will do more harm to the child most of the time, then you’ll do good.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: And that’s, that’s why testamentary trust, well thought out testamentary trust. And one of the things that people don’t think about so much. They think about who they trust is a trustee. But they also need to think about who the beneficiary trust. Often letting an older sibling be the trustee of a trust is a bad idea because it creates bad blood between the siblings.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
David Blevins: that’s one reason that it helps to have an experienced estate lawyer is because I’ve been doing this I’ve been litigating in states for Well, 25 or 30 years. So I see what what works and what doesn’t, and what what causes damage in the family. And so we can try to help folks avoid that. I can try to help folks avoid that. And we do that a lot with trust. And then there’s a lot to talk about. Sometimes you have somebody that uses substances or as a spendthrift, right. That’s That’s the difference. The first one is kind of easy. We get folks to double that money out, when you wind up with children that have can’t manage money when they’re older, or either because of substance abuse or because of poor judgment. That’s that’s a delicate situation. But unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to face that. And they leave behind a mess and heartache and they don’t do their children any favors.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah. Do you think it’s too harsh to say that, hey, if you care anything about your children, you will get a well done? Why do you think so many people will just put it off or just don’t want to even contemplate it?
David Blevins: Well, there there there are two primary reasons for that. First, to do will, you have to think about dying. And some folks don’t want to do that. Yeah. Um, and while I’m not morbid, thinking about dying on occasion is a healthy thing. First, it makes you contemplate the destiny of your soul.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: And a lot of times I ask will clients or people sign up a will, where will you be when this will is probated. And there’s really only two options. Okay, folks, either be in heaven, or there’ll be in hell. And that that decision that prep, the preparation for the soul will spin is more important than where your money was spent. A little bit of reflection on a little bit of reflection on the fact that we won’t live forever is a good thing, spiritually. And also is a is a good thing for your family. Yeah. The second reason people don’t want to do wills is they want to face their family. They’ve got kids that are fussing and fighting, or might have or they’ve got some hard feelings or a spouse that there’s some tough decisions have to be made. And frankly, they don’t have the guts to face it.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: So what they do is nothing in that. And then the family is in a real mess. And that is actually pretty selfish. Now I hate to be harsh, but it’s the truth.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah.
David Blevins: Somebody is going to have somebody who’s going to have to do your will. Somebody has to have to dispose your property. And you’re gonna you need to look the kids in the eye and say, this is where I want it to be. Not leave the brothers or sisters just to fight over.
Jeff Kelly: How often do you think people should get their wills redone We had a client come in and he had a will from 1984.
David Blevins: Well, at for too long because suffering wills came in in Georgia 95 you need to have your wills done. And by the way, Georgia has really good will law as most states go. So you need to change your will. When you have substantial life changing life circumstance. I have a lot of folks come in come in and the wills were drawn when the kids were little, they probably ought to name one of their children is their executor. Now that you know they’ve got a child as a CPA in 35, you probably don’t need Uncle Joe, who may not or may not still be alive to be the executor of the will. So you need to change it on life circumstances as your children advance. You might not need trust provisions, you may may be simpler. You also need if you have substantial circumstance changes. If you have a situation where you can come into or have a lot of anticipated money, then you may want to, you may want to include a charity, you may want to divide your money, if you’ve got there certain tax deferred instruments like 401K’s that if they grow to a certain level, you may want to, especially if your children are too young, to see through trust. So if you have your eye, you need to check with a lawyer if your life circumstances change substantially. If you get married or divorced, you really need to have your will looked into. People don’t realize it. But if you have a will and remarry, what you’ve done is revoke a third of your will. That causes a lot of heartache. Because the Georgia statute just says that the spouses portion, the will is not not good as to the spouses portion. And to the spouses portion, your will is revoked. Now, may be the lawyer and probate judge just scratched their head. Exactly what does that mean? What does it mean to revoke a third of your will, but it means it’s a mess. And it didn’t have to be, you could come into a lawyer. And also I recommend if you’ve got older couples, you got folks in their 60s or 70s that have some assets. a prenuptial agreements are good idea. And people think it’s not and I’m okay why it’s a good idea. It keeps your children the adult children of the people who are getting married from fighting with each other over who’s going in here at mom and dad stuff. If you have a prenuptial agreement that sets out who’s to get won, then the children the adult children are less likely to tear apart the letter in life marriage. I’ve seen that happen many times and it’s tragic. But a prenuptial agreement or in the alternative of goodwill, and just show it to the kids. Okay, Mary’s leaving every all of her stuff is going to her kids after the last of us to die. And all of my stuff is going to you guys after the last of us to die. And that’s the way it’s gonna be leave us alone. And wait, there you go.
Jeff Kelly: What happens when somebody passes and nobody can find the will is well any good at all? Anybody?
David Blevins: Well, that’s that can be a real problem if there is a conformed copy, and you can explain the absence of the original. If everybody agrees it sometimes doesn’t take too much explaining to to convince the probate court, you can and I’ve got two will well one we’ll right now that I’m about to file that conformed copy for 1992 or three and a nother will It’s already in process. So we can work with copies sometimes. But that’s that’s a heartburn that we really don’t need to have. So we have a little speech about where you should put your will. And you can put them in your safety deposit box. If you have any doubt is there’s gonna be any fussing and fighting or any questions or any any strife about your will. I recommend filing it with a probate court for safekeeping. It costs $15. It lasts a lifetime. The probate court will not read your will, they will put your name on it and give it a number and follow it and I found fireproof filing cabinet saw provided a statute. No one can come and get your will unless it’s you and you can prove your identity or they show up with your death certificate and prove there. Then they can get a copy That way is locked up. And nobody has to wonder what dad’s will was. Because it’s right there in the probate court already.
Jeff Kelly: That’s a neat, neat thing to know.
David Blevins: Well, people don’t very few folks know that. And it does keep that a lot of fussing and fighting. And we probably, I found at least one with a probate court a month. You can also keep it in a fireproof box at your house. But the safety deposit box or safekeeping with the probate court is by far, the best way to do it. And you need to let somebody know where it is. And your papers, just keep a receipt, the $15 seats at the probate court gives you that you will file and I go that found the wills probate court a and you don’t write down and and the probate court will not give them the wil, but the probate court will give them a copy. If they present a death certificate to show you you’re not around and proof that you are an heir or beneficiary under the will.
Jeff Kelly: How about that’s a that’s good. Good to know. What do you ever have clients come in and meet with you, you know, to do a will or a personal injury where you say to yourself, gosh, I wish I’m talking I wish you had known this I wish you hadn’t done fill in the blank. Like, you know, for me, I have clients come in and they’ll spend through their 401 K’s, you know, paying debts off that we are going to wipe out anyway. You ever have experienced that? Boy, do I?
David Blevins: And that’s a great question. Jeff, you’re you’re good at this, you know, we need to make you on the light show for lawyers. So yes, we did we do have people that come in and with with their car insurance, sometimes it’s pretty painful that they will do things like not give the hospital their their car insurance information. Because they think the other guy’s lab car insurance to take care of it. Well, when you do that, you’re not taking advantage of the discounts that your your insurance contractually receives from the hospital. Now, medical bills, this is something people don’t think about.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah,
David Blevins: but medical bills are inflated 60 to 75% of what the insurance contractual rights are. So if you go to the hospital, you have a car wreck. And not too much is wrong with you, but they do a good bit of test, you know, put your ominous plan or a neck brace and send you home. It’s not unusual to have a $10,000 bill.
Jeff Kelly: Yeah, yeah.
David Blevins: Well, if you’re current, if you’re a health insurance where you work, pay that bill, their contractual discount would most likely reduce that build or three or $4,000.
Jeff Kelly: Wow.
David Blevins: So if you if the other guys say the other guy’s got a $25,000 automobile policy, and you have a 10 out you have a broken arm, which is not a not a high dollar thing, a broken arm, which is pretty serious injury. And a $10,000 hospital bill is a car insurance. The other guy’s car insurance pays that $10,000 and there’s only $15,000 left in that policy for you. If you’re if your insurance where you work pays the bill, it pays $4,000 then when you collect the $25,000 from other guys, life insurance, car insurance, you pay your insurance company back $4,000. So instead of having $15,000 to work with you get $21,000 to work with. So that you see people come in and they’ve done that. And the bills are been run through sorry and paid. And you just you can scream because they left 5678 910
Jeff Kelly: so frustrating.
David Blevins: It is.
Jeff Kelly: Oh,
David Blevins: I don’t mind people they just don’t know.
Jeff Kelly: Well, David, hey, I thank you so much for coming on the show today. I look forward to getting this out to my clients. I personally have learned some pretty good, pretty good stuff here. And we just really appreciate you.
David Blevins: Well, you’re more than welcome here. It’s good to be here. Thank you so much. Jeff.
Outro Speaker: You’ve been listening to KellyCanHelp with Jeff Kelly reached out to the law office of Jeffrey B. Kelly today by phone 7062950030 in Rome or visit Kellycanhelp.com.