Burke Lasseter

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Local: 478-287-6969 Toll Free: 844-287-6969

April 2015 – Warner Robins Personal Injury Blog

Die Now, It’s Cheaper

By: Kelly Burke 04/18/2015

“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.” Woody Allen.woody allen

Woody can dream of not dying, but it’s gonna happen. Everyone born in 1880 died. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. Some died while fighting for life, some died peacefully. But in the end, everyone dies.

Good news for you, Georgia has a government form for just that occasion. Called the Georgia Advance Directive For Health Care (ADHC), it’s a classic government form. It’s 15 pages long, so you might grow old and die just filling it out, but it’s a good thing to give it a try. There was previously a Living Will and a Durable Power of Attorney For Health Care available in Georgia, but those have been rendered obsolete by the new form. If the Living Will and Health Care Power were valid when they were signed, they are still valid today however.

So what does a ADHC do?

Mainly, it lets you appoint an agent, and backup agents, to make decisions for you in the event you can’t make them. They can ride in the ambulance with you, have you admitted or discharged from the hospital, visit you, see your private health care papers, make health care decisions for you and even give away your body parts at the end. They cannot put you in the nut house, you’ll have to do that yourself.

Your agent follows your stated preference on how you want medical decisions made. Generally there are three options: 1) keep me alive no matter what (no one chooses that, except maybe Ted Williams), 2) allow my natural death to occur but keep me comfortable, and 3) I want nothing done unless it cures me. See your lawyer for more details.

Your agent can authorize an autopsy of your remains, but they can’t stop the autopsy if the law requires one to be done. They can determine final disposition of your remains, but you give them guidance, which is where it gets cool. Sure you can be buried, or cremated, like 99% of folks. You can have your ashes scattered into the wind, but preferably downwind, as upwind tends to blow back (a la John Goodman in The Big Lebowski).

Or you can donate your body to the Body Farm at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I’ve been there, it is amazing. They take bodies and put them all over the place. In the sun, shade, by a creek, under  a rock, etc. to study the decaying process. Hence when you read that someone has been dead for three weeks when discovered, you know how the scientist figured that out. It’s a worthwhile project for your earthly body since you’re not going to be needing it any more.

ADHC lets you nominate someone to be your guardian if you become legally incompetent. You know, parents perform that role for teenagers, but after that, our incompetence usually results in consequences from which we learn. Hopefully. When you get to the point that your kids have to take care of you, this form lets you pick the kid. Some kids will do better than others, I’m sure.

In the end, the ADHC is a good thing to do. It doesn’t handle who gets the house, or the chifferobe, but it handles the human part of dying.  You can get those details out of the way so the only things the kids will have left to fight about are your earthly possessions.

“The art of living well and the art of dying well are one.” Epicurus. He died in 270 B.C., so he knew what he was talking about. He died well because here I am, quoting him today.

You can download a copy of the Georgia ADHC here.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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GOP, the Pro-Tax, Pro-Regulation Bunch

By: Kelly Burke 04/11/2015

Were I King, the Doobie Brothers, ELO and Cheap Trick would be in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

Gas-Tax-Increase-PillYou would think that the Georgia Republican Party would be against THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY, but alas, there was a payoff involved. That’s right, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) paid off the very legislators that you sent to Atlanta to “do no harm.” At least, that’s the plank they run on. In Houston County, newly elected Heath Clark, representing the 147th District (essentially North Houston County) didn’t get the memo that he was supposed to write GDOT a check for an extra $1 BILLION dollars, on top of the $2.5 BILLION they already get. The rest of our legislators, they understood that GDOT would pay them off, so an overwhelming majority of them voted for THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY.

What, pray tell, was the payoff? Roads. Bridges. Toll Lanes. Bypasses. Sidewalks. Even some critter crossings. Yes, that infrastructure improvement was what was promised to each and every legislator in exchange for voting for THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY.

Kelly, roads and bridges, sidewalks and critter crossings, aren’t those good things? Sure they are. And that is what sold the tax increase without any public discussion. However, my complaint, and I’ve heard it in hundreds of comments made to me, is the way it was done. Remember just two years ago that the Legislature gave Georgia the chance to vote for a transportation tax for different districts? It went down in flames in 9 out of 12 districts, sometimes as much as 2-1 against it. Turns out Georgian’s were not in favor of giving GDOT an expanding purse with the way that things stood.

So what changed in two years? Nothing. GDOT did nothing to show us that they were going to clean up their act. But GDOT got smart. They convinced a small, special group of legislators that we had an EMERGENCY! That without an extra $1 BILLION  a year, bridges would fail and babies would die.

Did you see that special report done by that legislative committee? Probably not since you didn’t know about it, but I’ve read it and found it to be a bunch of self serving tripe done by GDOT to expand their empire. There was not one reference to a failing bridge or road anywhere in the report. To be fair, there were some regional meetings held around the state, held during the middle of your work day so as not to inconvenience the paid staffers of GDOT. That it was inconvenient for you was of no concern. I wish they had bothered to post minutes of those meetings, but they did not.

Instead of trying to convince Georgians that babies would die unless we did something BIG, GDOT greased the big wheel, known as the  political machine. There being no public uproar, since no one knew about the report, GDOT turned the issue around. The big hullabaloo was HOW was the Legislature going to raise the $1 BILLION, not IF it would happen.

When Rep. Regina Quick (R-Athens) asked GDOT for the data to support the emergency, GDOT sent her a letter asking for $100,000 to supply that information. I am not joking. Why would they do that to a State Representative? Because they had the votes they needed without her, or Rep. Heath Clark, or the handful of fiscally conservative Representatives who all voted against THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY.

So what do you get for your $BILLIONS? Oh, they’ll make a big show out of all the new projects they’re going to build. They’ll talk about “shovel ready” programs to put Georgians to work. And those State Senators and State Reps who voted for THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY will be present for a photo op at each turn of the shovel.

The last kick in the pants? Some of the Senators and Representatives complained to the party bosses, as the session wound down, about the bosses failure to follow legislative rules in order to cram this down our throats. They were ignored. THE BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY was just too important for anyone to follow the rules.

Now you know why GDOT doesn’t get too worked up about following the rules. They learned it from the best.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY

By: Kelly Burke 04/07/2015

The best movie of late you haven’t seen? St. Vincent with Bill Murray. Awesome.

So when was the BIGGEST TAX INCREASE IN GEORGIA HISTORY? This week!

Passed into law by your Georgia Legislature, gas taxes in Georgia will never be the same. The Super Majority Republican Party did it too. The “small government, no new taxes” guys were abducted by space aliens and replaced with “tax and spend” types. All our local legislators got transported onto the alien ship, except for Rep. Heath Clark. Somehow he missed the alien abduction and voted, true to his campaign plank, against giving GDOT a $BILLION$ for no discernible reason.

Gas-Tax

How massive was this tax increase? The gas excise tax went from 7.5 cents to 26 cents per gallon on gas, 29 cents for diesel. Sales taxes were eliminated though. Oops, not exactly. They gave the local big spender government types the ability to raise 4 cents a gallon. Here’s betting most of them will. I predict Houston County will dip into that trough in no time.

They added a $5 per night hotel tax. They added a $200 tag fee for alternative fuel cars, $300 if it’s commercial. These funds went into the general fund, but they will spend it on roads and bridges. They promise. Really, trust them.

But to me, the coolest feature they added was the provision that the gasoline tax will increase automatically in the future. No more messy votes about raising your taxes. The gas tax will go up AUTOMATICALLY as cars get more efficient on gas. Seriously. If average fuel economy increases, they sell less gas, thus less tax money. So the tax will go up automatically. How cool is that?

Oh, and if that isn’t enough, they added a CPI (Consumer Price Index, commonly called inflation) feature too. As inflation goes up, so does the gas tax. AUTOMATICALLY.

Pretty impressive stuff from the “small government” Republicans. Only under the Gold Dome can they raise $1 BILLION in new revenue and claim that they didn’t raise your taxes.

Final point. Who causes the most damage to roads? Yep, big trucks. So how much did the mean ol’ Legislature penalize them? $100. Per year. That’s it. Why? Think about it, do you have a lobby? Of course not, but the trucking industry does. Why? Because they know that Republicans aren’t truly “small government” types. When you begin to understand that, you’ll start to vote smarter.

Kelly Burke, master attorney, former district attorney and magistrate judge, is engaged in private practice. He writes about the law, rock’n’roll and politics. These articles are not designed to give legal advice, but are designed to inform the public about how the law affects their daily lives. Contact Kelly at kelly@burkelasseterllc.com to comment on this article or suggest articles that you’d like to see.

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