Attorney - John M. Sheftall


John M. Sheftall
HBS Columbus Office

P: 706.243.6206
F: 706.243.5206
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John Sheftall, a Partner in Hall Booth Smith’s Columbus offices, concentrates his practice in fiduciary law, including estate planning, estate administration and fiduciary litigation. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, serves as a Director of SunTrust Bank in Columbus, and is a former Trustee of the St. Francis Hospital Foundation.
Mr. Sheftall was admitted to the Georgia State Bar in 1983. He was born in Macon, Georgia, and received his B.A. degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Georgia in 1980. He went on to earn both his J.D. and M.A. degrees from the University of Virginia.  
Prior to joining HBS, Mr. Sheftall practiced law in Columbus with Hatcher, Stubbs, Land, Hollis and Rothschild, LLP for over 21 years. Before that, he practiced law in Atlanta, where he was active in both the Fiduciary Section of the State Bar and the Atlanta Estate Planning Council. He currently chairs both the Estate Planning and Administration Group and the Fiduciary Litigation Group for HBS.
Mr. Sheftall is passionate about local history, historic preservation, neighborhood revitalization and community planning in Columbus. He has served on a number of local and regional non-profit boards, including the Georgia Historical Society in Savannah, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation in Atlanta, and the Georgia Legal History Foundation.
He is Past President of Historic Columbus Foundation, Past Chairman of Historic Linwood Foundation, and Past President of MidTown, Inc., an organization responsible for the revitalization of older neighborhoods in Columbus. He currently serves as a Director of the Historic Chattahoochee Commission.  
Mr. Sheftall is active in the Rotary Club of Columbus and a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, where he has served at the parish level as a Vestry member and Senior Warden, as well as at the diocesan level as a delegate and task force member. He has lectured widely at various fiduciary law seminars throughout Georgia, and speaks regularly before historical groups and organizations.

Practice Areas

Corporate and Partnership

Mr. Sheftall’s corporate practice includes representation of many Columbus-area and Georgia businesses. He is also involved in the banking and healthcare community, serving as a Director of SunTrust Bank in Columbus.


B.A., History, University of Georgia, 1980
M.A., Legal History, University of Virginia, 1983
J.D., University of Virginia, 1983


Georgia, 1983


State Bar of Georgia – Fiduciary Law Section (former Chair of Legislation Committee)
Atlanta Estate Planning Council
Columbus Estate Planning Council
SunTrust Bank, Columbus (Board of Directors)
Georgia Legal History Foundation (Trustee)
Georgia Historical Society (former Curator and Vice President)
Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation (Director)
Historic Columbus Foundation (Director and Past President)
Historic Linwood Foundation (former Chairman)
Historic Chattahoochee Commission (Director)
MidTown, Inc. (Director and Past President)
St. Francis Hospital Foundation (former Trustee)
Springer Opera House (former Director)
Port Columbus Civil War Naval Center (former Director)
Mercer University Press (former Trustee)
Rotary Club of Columbus
Trinity Episcopal Church (former Vestry member and Senior Warden)


Fellow, American College of Trust and Estate Counsel

Phi Beta Kappa

Mortar Board

National Merit Scholar

Super Lawyers, 2005-2018

AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell

The Best Lawyers in America©, 1997-2019


Publications and Presentations

Georgia Journal of Southern Legal History (former Articles Editor)
60th Annual Estate Planning Institute, Athens, Georgia, 2015, “Postmortem Planning with Disclaimers”
Residential Real Estate Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, 2013, “When Trnsfers of Property Involve Death and Taxes:  A Probate Primer for Real Estate Practitioners”
Georgia Federal Tax Conference, Atlanta, Georgia, 2011, “Postmortem Planning with Disclaimers.”
56th Annual Estate Planning Institute, Athens, Georgia, 2011, “Statutory Modifications: How and How Hard”
Fiduciary Law Institute, St. Simons, Georgia, 2008, “When to Hold Them, When to Fold Them: The Charms and Challenges of a Fiduciary Litigation Practice”
Fiduciary Law Institute, St. Simons, Georgia, 2006, “Negotiating the Probate Court:  Procedures and Pitfalls in a Fiduciary Practice”
46th Annual Estate Planning Institute, Athens, Georgia, 2001 (Program Chair)
Fiduciary Law Institute, St. Simons, Georgia, 1999, “Re-Examining the Bottom Line:  Commissions, Fees and Compensation for Fiduciaries and Their Attorneys”
Columbus State University, 4th Annual Retirement and Estate Planning Seminar,  Columbus, Georgia, 1998, “Multi-Generational Estate Planning”
Columbus State University, Creative (But Practical) Techniques for Effective Retirement and Estate Planning, Columbus, Georgia, 1997, “Practical Uses of Charitable Remainder Trusts”
Columbus State University, Retirement Planning to Maximize Benefits for the Retiree and Other Family Members, Columbus, Georgia, 1996, “Estate Planning Options Involving Retirement Funds”
Columbus College, Planning for Retirement and the Transfer of Wealth to the Next Generation, Columbus, Georgia, 1995, “Use of Wills, Trusts and Other Transfer Techniques”
40th Annual Estate Planning Institute, Athens, Georgia, 1995, “Special Issues in Trust Drafting:  Retained Powers and Removal Powers”
Basic Fiduciary Practice, Atlanta, Georgia, 1992 and 1993, “Planning for Disability”
Fiduciary Law Institute, St. Simons, Georgia, 1990, “Georgia’s New Rule Against Perpetuities”
Bridge the Gap, Athens, Georgia, 1989 and 1991, “Probate and Estate Administration”
32nd Estate Planning Institute, Athens, Georgia, 1987, “The Marital Deduction:  Drafting and Funding With Individuals in Mind and an Assessment of the Unlimited Marital Deduction Enacted in 1981”