A.J. Ceberio is now a Partner at Surratt Thompson & Ceberio, PLLC.

Surratt & Thompson, PLLC, a Winston-Salem law firm, has added a new name to its letterhead, the firm announced today. A.J. Ceberio joins Bryan C. Thompson as a partner at Surratt Thompson & Ceberio, PLLC.

“Since joining our firm, A.J. has proven himself to be a highly skilled attorney, with great businesssense that brings new, exciting ideas to the workplace. I have the utmost confidence that he is the right partner for our firm,” says Thompson.


Ceberio began working with the firm while he was just a first year law student at Wake Forest University. Though the attorneys at Surratt Thompson & Ceberio enjoy a diverse practice, A.J. focuses the majority of his time in corporate, real estate, civil litigation, estate, and trust matters.

A native of Key West, Florida, A.J. has extensive real estate and corporate experience, spending time as a licensed real estate appraiser prior to moving to North Carolina.

“I am thrilled to begin my new role as a partner at Surratt Thompson & Ceberio. I chose to join Surratt & Thompson to be a part of its unmatched commitment to our clients. I will continue to work diligently to honor the firm’s outstanding reputation while enhancing its growth for the next several decades,” says Ceberio.

In October, the firm relocated from the Wells Fargo Center to the Col. William Allen Blair house, a historic home built in 1901, located at 210 South Cherry Street.


Estate Planning: Having “The Talk” With Your Parents

It’s the talk no one wants to face, but everyone needs to have: your parents are getting older, and it’s time to discuss the many “what ifs” surrounding their health, their final wishes, and their estate planning.

We don’t like to think about our parents aging and the inevitability of their passing, but taking the time to discuss those tricky topics will save you and your family further stress, worry, and confusion during a time when you should be grieving. These difficult conversations are critical if you want to avoid unnecessary personal and financial hardships in your attempts to carry out your parents’ final wishes.

The Benefits of Estate Planning

  • Protect your assets and ensure they are being handled correctly.
  • Prevent disputes over property or family heirlooms.
  • Make sure your parents’ final wishes are known and followed.
  • Bring your family a sense of empowerment and control.
  • Be prepared for emergencies and the unexpected.

Starting a Dialogue

You don’t have to discuss everything at once, but taking that first step will make future conversations easier. When you approach your parents, remember to be sincere. Reassure them that this is to protect them, their assets, and their wishes. Stay positive and stress the importance of having these conversations early.

Finally, remember to be compassionate–these topics are just as difficult for them as they are for you.

Important Questions to Ask

  • Where important documents such as car and house titles, tax information, property deeds, and a will are located.
  • If there is a safe or deposit box, where is the key or combination stored?
  • Are there other assets that you need to be aware of?
  • If your parents own a business, what are their plans for that business?
  • Are there any debts that need to be paid?
  • What are their wishes for specific heirlooms, including art, jewelry, and furniture?
  • The names and contact information of all beneficiaries listed in the will.

The death or incapacitation of a parent is a confusing and emotional time, but proper planning will allow you to face the uncertainty with confidence. The attorneys at Surratt & Thompson, PLLC are here to help you and your family with all your estate planning and probate needs.

Emotional Legal Battle Consolation

How To Support Your Loved One in the Midst of a Legal Battle

Divorce, physical assault, mental abuse, custody battles, claims of defamation. These are all types of legal battles that involve two parties almost always in opposition of one another. They are so often ugly, angry and emotional. We don’t wish any of the above on anyone, yet we know they occur.

We also know that it can be difficult standing on the sideline, watching someone you love go through something so heart-wrenching and painful as they seek justice or fight to keep others from being harmed. How can you even begin to support someone going through something so difficult?

Apples and Oranges

Many of us have family members or friends that have been through divorces, ugly custody hearings, or similar legal proceedings. That doesn’t, however, make us all experts on divorce, ugly custody hearings, or similar legal proceedings. It’s easy to draw comparisons between two cases and try to offer comfort because ‘your cousin went through a divorce and won full custody,’ however no two cases play out the same. Judges are different, individuals involved are different and often state laws are different.

Support through ‘comparisons’ is rarely helpful. Remember: each case is made up of individuals making no two cases alike.

Emotional Legal Battle Consolation

Support Their Decisions

Difficult decisions are often made amidst legal battles, usually under the careful guidance of a legal professional. You might not always agree with those decisions, however, your friend/relative needs you to support those decisions. Legal battles are often settled by coming to a mutual agreement between two parties. It might feel like your loved one has ‘lost,’ and you might even feel frustrated with the outcome, but that is when they need you in their corner the most. Trust in them and back them all the way.

Stay Neutral

This, above all else, feels impossible. You want to side with your loved one, cheering them on to victory! ‘Victory,’ however, is often not the end goal. It’s justice or reparation, possibly a favorable parenting agreement that works well for both parents. It’s alright to take sides, but try to keep neutral and level-headed when discussing the legal battle. They are hurting, angry, frustrated, sad – any number of emotions and don’t need any fuel added to the fire. They need a friend and calming influence.

Don’t Be An Expert

The internet is a wonderful, vast and dangerous landscape, filled with misinformation and opinion. Don’t take it upon yourself to solve their case for them by delving into the deep web. Each state, county, even city handles all manner of cases differently and someone from California offering legal tips on a message board for abused mothers won’t be much help to someone going through a divorce in North Carolina.

Just like you should avoid cancer diagnoses on WebMD, you shouldn’t try to become an attorney in an attempt to help your loved one.


What your loved one needs more than anything else, more than an expert, more than a protector, is someone to hear them. Just listen. Don’t judge, don’t offer unsolicited advice. Just love them and listen as they go through this hard time.

Often our intentions are pure and we only want to help. Often we end up doing the opposite. Be there for your loved one and support them emotionally. Let us handle the ugly, gritty court battles. Your work is, at the end of the day, far more important and impactful than even ours.


What Your New Driver Needs To Know

There is no greater sense of freedom than receiving your license for the first time. Your young one has proven themselves trustworthy enough (at least according to the state) to drive a motor vehicle in public… unsupervised. The world is their metaphorical oyster. There are a thousand and one things you want, need, to tell them about driving – come to a complete stop, check your rear view mirrors on a regular basis, don’t drive too close to the car in front of you. The list goes on. Where do you even start? Take a breath and let us help.

You’re Not Alone

Understanding that you aren’t alone on the road might seem rudimentary, but it’s vital that new drivers really grasp this concept. It can be overwhelming to take the wheel of a motor vehicle alone and easy to focus only on yourself, where you’re going and how long it’s taking to get there. However, those other vehicles on the road are inhabited by individuals with their own agendas and places to be. Be mindful of others when driving!

You’re Being Watched

Alright, that sounds more ominous than it is. There is truth to the statement, however. We live in an age of traffic cameras and smartphones. Each vehicle has a license plate, and each license plate is registered to an individual, and each individual has an address on file. If you’re driving dangerously, reporting that behavior is shockingly easy with a snapped photo. Be safe and responsible, bearing in mind that actions you take can easily be traced back to you.

Vehicles are Dangerous

Vehicles weigh thousands of pounds and are filled with a highly combustible fluid. They are marvelous, society-altering inventions – but are also dangerous if treated carelessly. Just because you’re encased in thick glass and metal doesn’t mean you’re invincible. Despite airbags, seatbelts and ‘Five-Star Safety Ratings,’ a head-on collision can still be fatal. Be safe in your driving techniques, keeping healthy distances from other vehicles and obeying posted speed limits to minimize risk to both you and others around you.

Laws are in Place for a Reason

“Why should I have to completely stop if there is anyone coming from any other direction?” or “Why is the speed limit through here only 35?” are amongst the questions all drivers ask at some point in their driving career.

Some traffic laws may feel overly prohibitive or downright mean, but they are in place for a reason. That four-lane road that has a 35 MPH speed limit? There might be a stretch where the road curves and visibility is poor, leading to a number of accidents in the past. Coming to a complete stop instead of rolling through a stop sign might just save you from someone else coming up over a hill and not realizing there even is a stop sign at that intersection.

Laws are rarely created without good reason and are always there for your safety and security.

Driving is Expensive

It might seem like it to the new driver, but driving isn’t cheap. Filling up the gas tank, changing the oil, paying taxes and registration each year, and insurance premiums are all a given – and that doesn’t include unexpected maintenance. Each trip costs money in the form of wear and tear and gasoline. What’s worse, and potentially far more costly, are legal fees if traffic laws aren’t obeyed. We dig deep into the cost of a simple speeding ticket here.


We know it can be difficult to get across all the important concepts and laws of driving to your youngster. We also know that accidents happen and they might have a lapse in judgment when obeying traffic laws. If that happens and they’re given a ticket, please give us a call at 336-725-8323 and let us advise you on how to minimize the financial implications.


3 Ways to Help Someone Who Is Grieving the Loss of a Parent

Dealing with the loss of a parent is a tragic life experience we all eventually go through. As the friend of someone who is grieving, you can offer invaluable assistance. Help your friend begin the walk towards healing and recovery with these simple but effective techniques.

1. Make Contact

Even though you might not know exactly what to say, the most important way to help a person in grief is to reach out. Talk to them, and let them know you are thinking of them. Too often, a grieving person is ignored–not consciously, perhaps, but because others don’t know how they should react, or they don’t want to bring up an upsetting subject. Don’t let these reasons prevent you from connecting with your friend.

Be assured that their loss is on their mind, so talking about it isn’t reminding them about something they’ve somehow forgotten. Continue to check in with the grieving person in the weeks and months after their loss. This can be when a good friend is appreciated the most.


2. Don’t Dismiss the Grief

Of course, what you say is important. And two of the most common things said to those who have suffered a loss–“I know how you feel” and “maybe it was for the best”–can seem dismissive. Avoid them. Don’t try to “correct” what a grieving person is going through. You can’t. Simply assure them that you are there for them through your words and your actions.

3. Offer Help

You can always help in concrete ways, depending on your relationship with the grieving person and their unique situation. Bring them meals, if appropriate. Offer to babysit or do errands–whatever you think might be needed. Remember that it’s more helpful to offer to do something specific rather than simply saying “call me if you need anything.” They might be too overwhelmed to ask for help.


Grief is hard to face alone. If you have any tips for supporting a friend or family member through the death of a parent, please share in the comments.

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