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Probate Judge Jeryl Debra Rosh Addresses DeKalb Bar Family Section


Georgia Lordby Georgia Lord
Georgia Lord Law

DeKalb Probate Court Judge Jeryl Rosh and her staff attorney/chief clerk Julia Freeman, spoke at the January 7 breakfast meeting of the DeKalb Bar Association Family Law Section. Board chair Kyla Lines led the program. Judge Rosh, staff attorney Freeman, and a staff that includes more than 20 clerks handle not only estates and guardianships but also an amazing variety of other matters, including gun carry permits, marriage licenses, conservatorships regarding settlements for minors, the authorization of fireworks displays, and even the regulation of cattle branding. Additionally, Georgia Regional’s DeKalb location requires Judge Rosh to adjudicate involuntary commitment proceedings for thirty-four counties.



Judge Rosh reviewed some of the legal requirements to obtain guardianship or conservatorship over an adult. The petitioner must show that the adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning his or her health or safety (in the case of guardianship), or his or her property (in the case of conservatorship). The petitioner cannot simply rely upon broad statements, e.g., an allegation that the respondent had been “using poor judgment.” Judge Rosh noted that there is usually an uptick in these guardianship petitions shortly after the holiday season: children may visit for Thanksgiving or Christmas and become alarmed about their parent’s ability to continue living alone. Judge Rosh explained that, in such circumstances, she frequently holds guardianship hearings in the respondent’s home. By doing this, she ensures that the respondent attends the hearing and she is able to observe the respondent’s home and gain valuable insights regarding the situation. The constitutional rights of the respondent must be scrupulously protected throughout the process, even when the situation requires emergency consideration.

There is usually an uptick in guardianship petitions shortly after the holiday season when children visit and become alarmed about their parent’s ability to continue living alone.”

An alternative to a guardianship can be a power of attorney. If a power of attorney is being used appropriately (i.e., being used to protect the interests of the principal rather than to advance the interests of the agent), that history can be an indication that a guardianship is not necessary.

The Court also hears petitions for guardianship of minors whose parents are dead or who have failed to care for their child. Judge Rosh ordinarily appoints a guardian ad litem in these cases, and has a criminal background check done on all persons living in the household. A temporary letter of guardianship may be provided to the petitioner at the time the petition is filed, to enable the petitioner to enroll the children in school and obtain medical care for them.

The meeting also included a presentation by real estate broker (and section sponsor) Robert Pasmanick, of Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage. Mr. Pasmanick recommended that settlement agreements for the sale of a home include specifics, e.g., the date by which the house must be ready to go on the market. He encouraged counsel to stay in regular contact with the real estate agent to prevent the other party from derailing the sales process. He also suggested having a pre-inspection of the house before it goes on the market, explaining that a pre-inspection often reassures the prospective buyer and makes the process of obtaining any needed repairs cheaper and easier.

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