The Last Will of Lucy Sutton Heckerling

Southern Region PFAC Meeting, March 22, 2019.

New Wave Home Care is proud to be a part of our community and welcomed the opportunity to sponsor Southern Region PFAC Meeting on March 22, 2019.

If you’re a history buff, you will love the presentation we were given as part of the Southern Region PFAC Meeting! Terry Franklin of Sacks, Glazier, Franklin & Lodise LLP, visited the meeting to speak about his fourth great-grandfather, John Sutton. Hearing him speak was like being part of history in the making. Allow us to give the highlights of the amazing story, although we’ll certainly not reach the depths Terry brought the audience to.

John Sutton was a white farmer in Jacksonville, Florida who was married to a African-American woman. While that may be commonplace today, John’s marriage occurred during a time of great cultural significance for mixed race couples – the American slave trade. The law during this time prevented granting freedom to slaves, making the will of John Sutton a groundbreaking document that paved the way for what we know today as estate planning.  

Terry eloquently spoke of his research, visit to the Jacksonville court to review the will, as well as his findings.

What he found was this: during the time that his ancestor lived, the laws in the state of Florida stated than in order to free a slave, bond had to be posted. This bond value was equal to the fair market value of the slave. Once the bond was posted, the slave had 30 days to leave the state of Florida, as state law did not allow free slaves to live within its borders.

More than just revealing the history of slaves in America and the laws in existence at the time, the presentation also spoke of the role and importance of making a will and how it helped to implement the wishes of John Sutton.

If you’re interested in learning more, additional details on this presentation can be found here: The 1846 Last Will of John Sutton—What’s Not So New in Will Drafting and Contests.

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