I started to write a very long winded post to tell about my day. But, it went on and on and on. Needless to say, I kicked major ass in a probate litigation matter today. I thought the case had gone on since 1978.
No, no. The case had gone on since 1906 – May 1, 1906, to be exact. That day a Mr. McClendon died, a black man in rural Georgia who did the most unexpected and amazing thing – accumulated 200 acres of land in an area of Georgia that to this day has a black prom and a white prom. In 1979, the fourth administrator of the estate died and a new one was appointed.
An administrator’s sole job is to pay the debts of an estate when there is no will and distribute remaining property to the heirs.
My co-counsel, who is an excellent litigator, came into my office at 4pm yesterday to ask for my assistance in trial today. He knows all about litigation. I know all about probate law.
We combined talents and successfully represented the great-great granddaughter of Mr. McClendon and forced the distribution of the remaining estate to the heirs – of whom there are now over 250.
It is great that the family wanted to maintain an administrator to keep the property in the family. But the administrator has no right to keep the property and deny access and grant access at whim. The restraint of the alienation of the land is prohibited in Georgia. The title to land must and does vest in the heirs at death, subject only to the administrator’s duty to pay debts.
Now, I said I mopped up the floor with the opposing counsel. That’s true. But the fact of the matter is that I know probate law and she didn’t. Her defense, in addition to being rude, belligerent, condescending, and erratic, was that as long as the administrator was administering the property, no one could force him to hand over the land. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Did I mention she was a witch?
She deserved it.