As Bulloch County grows, it will one day soon need a probate judge who is a licensed attorney, said local lawyer Charles Aaron, who announced Wednesday he will run for the office.
He is the fifth candidate who made such an announcement. In addition to Aaron, legal assistant Lorna DeLoach, Desert Storm and Iraq War veteran Lonnie Ellis, Statesboro police detective Kevin Wadley and former Statesboro High Principal Marty Waters have announced they are running for the probate court seat.
“I am excited about the opportunity of furthering my legal career by seeking election as the judge of the probate court of Bulloch County,” he said in a statement given to the Statesboro Herald Wednesday. “I’ve always enjoyed the estate planning and probate aspects of law practice, as you have the opportunity to assist clients plan for an orderly distribution of their estates and, upon the passing of a loved one, assist these clients’ resolution of an estate.”
Georgia state law requires any county with a population of over 96,000 have a licensed attorney as probate judge. Bulloch County currently has a population of around 72,000.
“As retiring Judge Lee DeLoach pointed out recently, Bulloch County has experienced significant growth and there is a growing need to have an attorney oversee the probate court,” Aaron said. ”With more than 13 years of experience as a practicing attorney in Bulloch County, I am confident my legal background will be an asset.”
Aaron was admitted to the bar (all superior, state, probate, magistrate and municipal courts), as well as the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia, Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia, and United States District Court, Southern District of Georgia, in 2002.
He was admitted to the bar for the United States District Court, Middle District of Georgia, in 2006; the
United States Court o and the United States Supreme Court, in 2013.
He worked with local firm Edenfield, Cox, Bruce & Classens as a law clerk in the summer of 2001 and as an attorney from 2002 to the present.
Regarding estate planning and probate aspects of law practice, he said “As probate judge, I would be able to focus on this area of practice. As a licensed attorney who has drafted wills and litigated estate disputes in the Bulloch County Probate Court and other courts, I am aware of the complexity of these cases as well as the benefit to be gained from having an attorney hear and decide such matters.”
His experience would lend itself to being a competent probate judge, he said. With a legal background of more than 13 years’ experience as a practicing attorney, including estate and probate matters, general civil litigation, education law, bankruptcy and real estate, Aaron has drafted and directed the execution of estate planning documents, including last wills and testaments, durable powers of attorney and advanced directives for healthcare; practiced before probate courts in Bulloch, Candler, Chatham, Screven and Tattnall counties and addressed matters including probating estates, seeking the approval of settlements in personal injury cases brought on behalf of minor children, and petitions seeking the removal of executors and administrators, petitions for seeking year’s support, appointment of temporary administrator and sale of real estate.
“Often times, these matters require evidentiary rulings and I think it would be very difficult for a non-lawyer to master Georgia’s Rules of Evidence so as to create a record without error. My extensive litigation experience, not only in probate court but in the superior and federal courts, gives me a working knowledge of both the evidentiary and procedural rules that will assist me in presiding over any contested matters,” he said.
In 2011-2013 and in 2016 Aaron was named as a Georgia Legal Rising Star by the SuperLawyers group. He is a past president of the Bulloch County Bar Association, Georgia School Boards Association and member of Leadership Bulloch, 2008.
He is married to Leigh Aaron, and has two daughters, Sydney Kate, 7, and Madeline, 4. Aaron has been a resident of Bulloch County since 2006.
He is a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church, where he serves as a member of the Finance Committee. His educational background includes graduation from Screven County High School in 1995; graduation with a bachelor’s degree on political science from Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC in 1999 and achieving a doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.