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How will history judge your legacy?

There was a Little Warrior named Willie Beatrice Taplin Barrow.  Barely standing 5 feet tall, she was a giant of a woman. She co-founded Operation Breadbasket, now known as Rainbow Push Coalition.  She was a wife.  A mother.  A civil and women’s rights activist.  An early supporter of gay rights.  A welder – yes, a WELDER!  A minister.  An author.

She was a bona fide boss. Simply put, she was #BlackGirlMagic.

Corliss V. Garner

Rev. Barrow was born in Burton, Texas, in 1924.  She moved to Portland, Oregon, at age 16 to begin her ministry studies, ultimately building one of the first Black churches in the city. She moved to Chicago in the early 40s, continuing her studies at Moody Bible Institute.  She stood shoulder to shoulder with iconic figures during our country’s most pivotal and transformational moments. Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Height, Mayor Harold Washington and President Barack Obama, to name a few.

For all of her accomplishments and accolades, what I find most intriguing about her life is her intention.  Her walk on earth was guided by intention to make the world a better place for the disenfranchised, the underserved and the forgotten. She persevered during a time when NOTHING was easy for Black women in this country.  Yet, her intention among other virtues made her amazing life story possible. And in her afterlife, Rev. Barrow’s intention is still alive and thriving.

The State of Estate Planning

You may think estates are for wealthy people, but think again.  If you have assets, then you have an estate.  Think pensions, life insurance, 401ks or deferred compensation plans, real estate, business interests, etc.  If you own any of these, then you have an estate.  It adds up pretty quickly.

Now the question becomes how do you want that estate distributed upon your death?  According to a Gallup survey, approximately 60 percent of Americans have no answer to that question.  They have not taken the time to think about and, most importantly, document by will and/or trust who would be in charge of distributing assets, running a business or taking care of any minor or disabled children upon death.  Do you have a favorite charity to bless? Who will make health care decisions or pay bills for you in the event you can’t for yourself?  These questions and more should be answered in your estate plan documents.

Unfortunately, too many of us don’t take the time to work with an experienced estate-planning attorney and miss the opportunity to be thoughtful about the legacy we can leave for our families and our community.  We pass the duties of this important life event to grieving family members who often times have no clue what to do. Or even worse, the state laws make the decisions for us.  Or THE WORST, assets and businesses are dissolved or disposed of improperly. Our families lose an inheritance and a jumpstart to building generational wealth.

In classic boss lady style, Rev. Barrow’s estate plan was on point. Her place in history guided by intention, lives on through the Willie Taplin Barrow Black Women’s Leadership Fund.  She was thoughtful about her legacy and chose to invest in creating space for Black women to grow, lead, impact their communities and change the world.  She wanted to support more Little Warriors and leveraged her estate plan to create legacy.

Continue building. Be thoughtful. Plan and execute.  You have the power and obligation to decide how history will judge YOUR legacy.

To learn more about Rev. Barrow’s fund, African American Legacy and Chicago Foundation for Women, visit https://www.cfw.org/?news=chicago-foundation-for-women-announces-black-womens-leadership-fund-in-honor-of-the-reverend-willie-taplin-barrow

Corliss is a lifelong Chicago West Sider who has a thing for money and has learned from a few mistakes over the years.  She is a fierce auntie, passionate about improving community and educating our babies.  She happens to be a Certified Financial Planner TM, has worked a few decades in many areas of banking and views financial literacy as a personal ministry.  Join her Facebook page Got My Mind on My Money and My Money on My Mind.   Contact her at corliss.garner@cloindustries.com with comments or questions.

DISCLAIMER

The topics discussed and opinions given are not intended to address the specific needs of any reader. They are for informational purposes only and are not to be construed or relied upon as pro-bono, paid or any other advice.  The information herein does not offer legal, tax or other advice, and readers are encouraged to discuss their individual financial needs with the appropriate professional advisors.  The opinions and thoughts expressed herein are solely those of the Writer and not those of the Writer’s employer(s) or any other affiliations.   Writer assumes no liability for any loss or damage resulting from errors or omissions or reliance on or use of the material herein.

12 Voices: Black History v. Black Legacy By Corliss Garner was originally published on chicagodefender.com

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