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Learn from Aretha Franklin: Get a Will

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While the Queen of Soul is known for her timeless songs, she also struggled with one of the common things many people forget to do before they die – have a will. Aretha Franklin wasn’t alone. Prince also didn’t have a will when he died.

No one wants to think of death, but not having a will means your assets from property, cars, and bank accounts can get locked up in the courts for many years if there are multiple people claiming rights to it. According to an AARP survey, 2 out of 5 Americans over the age of 45 don’t have a will.

This AARP story says there are 10 Things You Should Know About Writing a Will:

What is a will?

A will is simply a legal document in which you, declare who will manage your estate after you die. Your estate can consist of big, expensive things such as a vacation home but also small items that might hold sentimental value such as photographs. The person named in the will to manage your estate is called the executor because he or she executes your stated wishes.

A will can also serve to declare who you wish to become the guardian for any minor children or dependents, and who you want to receive specific items that you own.

What happens if I die without a will?

If you die without a valid will, your estate will be settled based on the laws of your state that outline who inherits what. Probate is the legal process of transferring the property of a deceased person to the rightful heirs.

Do I need an attorney to prepare my will?

No, you aren’t required to hire a lawyer to prepare your will, though an experienced lawyer can provide useful advice on estate-planning strategies such as living trusts. But as long as your will meets the legal requirements of your state, it’s valid whether a lawyer drafted it or you wrote it yourself on the back of a napkin.

Do-it-yourself will kits are widely available. Conduct an Internet search for “online wills” or “estate planning software” to find options.

Should my spouse and I have a joint will or separate wills?

Odds are you and your spouse won’t die at the same time, and there’s probably property that’s not jointly held. That’s why separate wills make better sense.

Who should act as a witness to a will?

Any person can act as a witness to your will, but you should select someone who isn’t a beneficiary. Otherwise there’s the potential for a conflict of interest. Some states require two or more witnesses. If a lawyer drafts your will, he or she shouldn’t serve as a witness.

Not all states require a will to be notarized, but some do. You may also want to have your witnesses sign what’s called a self-proving affidavit in the presence of a notary. This affidavit can speed up the probate process because your witnesses likely won’t be called into court by a judge to validate their signatures and the authenticity of the will.

Who should I name as my executor?

You can name your spouse, an adult child, or another trusted friend or relative as your executor. If your affairs are complicated, it might make more sense to name an attorney or someone with legal and financial expertise. You can also name joint executors, such as your spouse or partner and your attorney.

One of the most important things your will can do is empower your executor to pay your bills and deal with debt collectors. Make sure the wording of your will allows for this, and also gives your executor leeway to take care of any related issues that aren’t specifically outlined in your will.

How do I leave specific items to specific heirs?

If you wish to leave certain personal property to certain heirs, indicate as much in your will. In addition, you can create a separate document called a letter of instruction that you should keep with your will.

A letter of instruction, which isn’t legally binding in some states, can be written more informally than a will and can go into detail about which items go to whom. You can also include specifics about items that will help your executor settle your estate including account numbers, passwords and even burial instructions.

Where should I keep my will?

If you put the will in a bank safe deposit box that only you can get into, your family might need to seek a court order to gain access. A waterproof and fireproof safe in your house is a good alternative.

Your attorney or someone you trust should keep signed copies in case the original is destroyed. Signed copies can be used to establish your intentions. However, the absence of an original will can complicate matters, and without it there’s no guarantee that your estate will be settled as you’d hoped.

How often does a will need to be updated?

It’s possible that your will may never need to be updated — or you may choose to update it regularly. The decision is yours. Remember, the only version of your will that matters is the most current valid one in existence at the time of your death.

Who has the right to contest my will?

Contesting a will refers to challenging the legal validity of all or part of the document. A beneficiary who feels slighted by the terms of a will might choose to contest it. Depending on which state you live in, so too might a spouse, ex-spouse or child who believes your stated wishes go against local probate laws.

A will can be contested for any number of other reasons: it wasn’t properly witnessed; you weren’t competent when you signed it; or it’s the result of coercion or fraud. It’s usually up to a probate judge to settle the dispute. The key to successfully contesting a will is finding legitimate legal fault with it. A clearly drafted and validly executed will is the best defense.

To read the full story, go to the link.

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Black Man produces water out of thin air!

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American Tax Geeks is Giving $112 Million to African Americans to Start Thousands of Franchises

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Nationwide — American Tax Geeks is known as the franchise company that pays all of the startup costs for it’s franchise owners. But now they’re specifically giving $112 million to African Americans to start an American Tax Geeks franchise. They pay your startup costs, provide employee training, and much much more. Their popular franchise model of paying for the startup costs of their franchise owners has allowed them to become the fastest growing franchise ever, with 10,000 locations for next tax season.

According to Derrick Smith, Director of Operations, “We have received a tremendous amount of applicants that want to become American Tax Geeks franchise owners, but we want to see more diversity with our franchise owners. We have apportioned specific amounts of resources for all minority franchise applicants and specifically we want at least 20 percent of our franchise locations to be owned by African Americans. We have allocated $112 million that will go towards paying for all of the startup costs of thousands of new African American franchise owners across the country. We pay several thousands in startup costs for each franchise owner. I encourage any African American that is an aspiring business owner to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity to become an American Tax Geeks franchise owner with absolutely no upfront startup costs.”

Furthermore, in addition to paying all of your startup costs, right now they’re also waiving their $40,000 initial franchise fee. With annual gross income for franchise owners being around $200K, it’s truly one of the best franchises opportunities ever.

And tax preparation is an industry that’s truly always in demand. The latest fiscal year count available from the IRS shows that more than 83 million taxpayers paid someone to prepare their federal tax return. American Tax Geeks franchise owners don’t need any prior tax experience because the actual tax work is performed by their employees and managers.

American Tax Geeks provides their franchise owners with a store location, employee training, marketing support, and everything that they need to get started and succeed without spending one penny. This is truly how more franchise companies need to operate.

To learn more about becoming an American Tax Geeks franchise owner, go to www.AmericanTaxGeeks.com right now, before it’s too late.

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New Rosa Parks Barbie

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Nationwide — Rosa Parks, known as the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement, is being honored with a Barbie doll that resembles her. Children can now play with a toy that will truly  inspire them, but the doll is also expected to be popular with collectors.

Mattel, the makers of Barbie, is recognizing the achievements of many historical women including Rosa Parks who “made the world better for future generations of girls.”

“By celebrating their achievements with dolls made in their likeness, we hope girls will be inspired to pursue their dreams,” a spokesperson for Mattel told CNN.

The Barbie doll will feature Parks’ authentic clothing and accessories as well as educational material about her contributions to society.

The launch of the new dolls comes as part of the brand’s Inspiring Women Series which aims to honor historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger.

Moreover, Mattel stated that research found that girls from the age of 5 are more likely than boys to experience the “Dream Gap” wherein they could feel like their own gender isn’t smart and competent enough. To address that, showing girls more role models and telling their stories could be beneficial.

Other women who are part of the new collection are Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, and Sally Ride.

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