Congressman Barry Loudermilk Re-Elected to United States Congress

Firm client Congressman Barry Loudermilk (GA-R) handily won re-election last night.  The firm wishes Congressman Loudermilk the best in the new Congress with President-Elect Donald J. Trump.

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Atlanta Probate Attorney Successfully Respresents Estate in Wrongful Death Apportionment Case

Atlanta Probate Attorney John T. Mroczko successfully represented an Estate in a wrongful death apportionment case. Mr. Mroczko was able to successfully resolve the apportionment case for the Estate. Atlanta Probate Attorney John T. Mroczko has years of experience as a successful probate attorney and has successfully recovered millions of dollars for his clients in wills, trusts and estate cases. If you are in need of an Atlanta Probate Attorney, make sure that you call Atlanta Probate Attorney John T. Mroczko to help you with your case at 770-386-8564 or email him at john@georgia-probate.com.

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ATTORNEY JOHN T. MROCZKO NAMED 2014 GEORGIA RISING STAR BY GEORGIA SUPER LAWYERS

ATLANTA – Georgia Super Lawyers recently selected John T. Mroczko of Cartersville, Georgia as a 2014 Rising Star. Rising Stars are 40 years of age or younger or have been in practice for 10 years or less. Last year Mroczko was named a 2012 Rising Star and a 2013 Rising Star by Georgia Super Lawyers. The elite list of Georgia Rising Stars, which represents more than 70 practice areas, will be published in the March 2013 issue of Atlanta magazine and in a special issue of Georgia Super Lawyers: Rising Stars, which is mailed to every attorney in the state.

John T. Mroczko has an extremely successful trust and estate litigation practice. Mroczko has successfully litigated numerous trust and estate cases throughout Georgia and has developed a strong reputation of excellence in prosecuting and defending cases involving breach of fiduciary duty, construction of wills and trusts, year’s support claims, and disputes between shareholders of closely-held corporations.

Mroczko also represents parties in complex business lawsuits by bringing creative and imaginative strategies to the cases he handles. He also serves as the County Administrator of Bartow County, Georgia and Gordon County, Georgia.

Mroczko is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell which is the highest rating available for legal ability and general ethics. The AV® Preeminent™ rating is an acknowledgment of Mroczko’s accomplishments and skills as an attorney, and places him among the elite practitioners in the country.

Mroczko served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Etowah Scholarship Foundation, Inc. and serves on the Advisory Council at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida and on the Board of Directors of the Civil Justice PAC, Inc. of the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association. Mroczko serves on the board of directors of his church, The Church at Liberty Square; Excel Christian Academy; Cartersville Child Care, Inc.; Feed the Needy, Inc.; and Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter. In addition, Mroczko is actively involved in several community organizations: the Rotary Club of Etowah; the Cartersville-Bartow County Bar Association; the State Bar of Georgia; the Fiduciary Section of the State Bar of Georgia; the Real Property and Probate Section of the American Bar Association; the Taxation Section of the American Bar Association; the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association; and a number of other local organizations. Mroczko is married to Jill Mroczko and is the proud father of John (“Jack”) T. Mroczko, Jr. and Amelia Grace (“Millie Grace”) Mroczko.

Every year, Rising Stars honors the top young lawyers in Georgia as chosen by Georgia Super Lawyers and through the independent research of Thomson Reuters.

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Supreme Court Affirms Probate Court’s Finding Will Revoked Where Copy of Will Offered For Probate

The Supreme Court of Georgia recently affirmed a Probate Court decision finding that the absence of an original will created an evidentiary presumption that he did not want that will to be probated — that he intended to revoke the will. In this case, the decedent’s fiancée offered a copy of a will for probate and the decedent’s daughter filed an objection on the grounds that there is a presumption that the will was revoked because the original will was missing.

In the case of Britt v. Sands, 2014 Ga. Lexis 57, the Supreme Court held that the absence of Major’s original will created an evidentiary presumption that he did not want that will to be probated — that he intended to revoke the will. See OCGA § 53-4-46 (a). In propounding a copy of the will, Britt had the burden of rebutting that presumption “ ‘by showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, both that [Major] did not intend to revoke the will and that [the] proffered copy is a true copy.’ ” Thomas v. Sands, 284 Ga. 529, 530 (668 SE2d 731) (2008) (citation omitted); OCGA § 53-4-46 (b). “Whether the presumption of revocation is overcome is determined by the trier of fact, and in reviewing the [judgment], the evidence must be accepted which is most favorable to the party in whose favor the [judgment] was rendered.” Thomas, 284 Ga. at 530 (citations and punctuation omitted). Moreover, “[t]his Court will not set aside the probate court’s factual findings unless they are clearly erroneous, meaning that they will be upheld if there is any evidence to sustain them.” Parker v. Kelley, 290 Ga. 454, 455 (721 SE2d 828) (2012).

The evidence presented by the parties in this case was conflicting, both as to the disposition of the original will and as to Major’s testamentary objectives. Britt offered testimony that the original will was stolen from one of Major’s lockboxes, that he had a strained relationship with Sands, and that he wanted her and others besides Sands to inherit his property. But Sands offered evidence that Major was careful in his legal affairs, that the original will was not stolen as Britt claimed, that his relationship with Britt also had its problems, and that the propounded will left Sands considerable property, showing that her relationship with her father was not broken. GA(1) (1) The probate court, which had the opportunity to observe all the witnesses and to evaluate their demeanor and credibility, could have decided this case either way; the court found that the evidence offered by Britt was insufficient to overcome the presumption of revocation. The Supreme Court found that the Probate Court’s evidentiary finding was not clearly erroneous and therefore affirmed the Probate Court’s decision.

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Removal of Executor or Administrator within Probate Court’s Jurisdiction

The removal of a executrix of an estate as the result of a conflict of interest is well within the jurisdictional bounds of the probate court. See OCGA § 15-9-30 (a) (2) (“Probate courts have authority, unless otherwise provided by law, to exercise original, exclusive, and general jurisdiction [over] … [t]he granting of letters testamentary and of administration and the repeal or revocation of the same”) (emphasis supplied); Wardlaw v. Huff, 259 Ga. 1, 2 (376 SE2d 366) (1989) (“Where the personal interests of the representative of an estate conflict with the interests of the estate it is within the discretion of the probate judge … to remove the representative.”); Benefield v. Martin, 276 Ga. App. 130, 132 (622 SE2d 469) (2005) (noting that probate courts have the authority to, among other things, “remove executors”). See Ray, 280 Ga. App. at 47 (1) (probate court’s order removing appellant as administrator of estate due to conflict of interest and breach of fiduciary duty was not void for lack of jurisdiction, given that “the probate court did not attempt to determine title to property”).

If you are a beneficiary of an estate where the executor or administrator is not performing their duties in accordance with the law, call an Atlanta Probate Attorney today at 770-386-8564.

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Attorney W. Blake Scoggins Joins Law Firm

BlakeAttorney W. Blake Scoggins joined the law firm of John T. Mroczko, P.C. on November 1, 2013.  Scoggins began his legal education at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School in August of 2010. During law school, he interned at The Keener Law Firm in Marietta, Georgia during the summer following his first year of law school.  After completing his second year of law school, Scoggins received a summer externship position with the Cherokee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office. Following the summer externship with the District Attorney’s office, Rosemary Greene asked Scoggins to continue as extern during his last semester of law school.

Scoggins graduated from John Marshall in December of 2012 and worked as an Assistant District Attorney under the Georgia Practice Act for the Cherokee Judicial Circuit while awaiting his bar results. Scoggins worked as a prosecutor for three months where he gained valuable courtroom experience as an everyday working attorney.

Scoggins is currently engaged to Ashley Cole, a preschool teacher in the Cartersville School System.

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Bocker v. Crisp, et al.

Bocker v. Crisp, et al., —S.E.2d—, 2012 WL 130559, Ga.App. (2012), where John sucessfully represented a beneficiciary of an estate before the Georgia Court of Appeals affirming the trial court’s order awarding compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees for the personal representatives breach of fiduciary duties. 

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