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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Disinheriting a Child or Relative - A Serious Decision With Serious Consequences

Disinheriting a Child or Relative - A Serious Decision With Serious Consequences
While in the U.S. you can't disinherit your spouse unless your spouse agrees to be disinherited in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement (except in Georgia, where your spouse is entitled to one year of support), you can disinherit your children in all but one state - Louisiana - and only under limited circumstances: In Louisiana, you can't disinherit children who are twenty-three years of age or younger, or children of any age who, because of mental incapacity or physical infirmity, are permanently incapable of taking care of themselves or managing their finances at the time of the decedent's death.
Unfortunately in some ways Hollywood has managed to "glamorize" the idea of disinheritance since often times in the movies or on TV we see the threat of disinheritance or actual disinheritance as the main plot or a subplot in a movie or commercial. In real life, however, disinheriting a child, grandchild or other relative should be taken very seriously. Here are some things to consider before making a last will and testament or revocable living trust, or changing an existing last will and testament or revocable living trust, that disinherits a potential heir.

Disinheritance - 5 Factors to Consider
Disinheritance is both an emotional and financial decision. Sometimes it begins during life, when a parent or grandparent consciously decides to cut off ongoing financial support to an adult child or grandchild (like Hannah on HBO's series Girls). Other times it is the result of the culmination of a lifetime of financial support to a child or grandchild to the disadvantage of others, or ignoring the odd sense of entitlement that some children or grandchildren develop.
If you are trying to decide if you should disinherit a child or grandchild or, if you don't have any children, then another relative such as a sibling, niece or nephew, then consider the following:

1. Don't use the threat of disinheritance as a way to manipulate an heir's behavior. If you want your child or your niece to do, or not do, something, and you think that threatening them with disinheritance will make them act, or not act, think again. It's really a sad way to get someone to act the way you want them to act, and you're simply trading love and respect for money.

2. Consider using a trust to control an heir's inheritance. If you're concerned that your child or niece will blow their inheritance on fast cars, drugs and alcohol, or extravagant trips, or will simply lose the incentive to work and make an actual contribution to society, consider leaving them an inheritance with strings attached. This can be accomplished by setting up a lifetime trust for the heir's benefit and giving the trustee specific instructions about how and when distributions can be made to the heir. This can include incentives such as going to college, working at a full time job, or staying drug and alcohol free, but it cannot include incentives that would be against public policy, such as marrying or divorcing a certain person or practicing a specific religion. For an interesting case involving both of these issues, refer to Estate Planning and Religion - Unraveling the Max Feinberg Case.

3. Consider giving your spouse, child or other relative a power of appointment. Even if you ultimately choose to disinherit a child, grandchild or other relative, consider giving the beneficiary of a lifetime trust, such as your spouse or a child, the ability to "re-inherit" them. This can be accomplished by giving the beneficiary of the lifetime trust a power of appointment that can be exercised in favor of "re-inheriting" the person you disinherit.

4. Make your intentions of disinheritance clear in your will or trust. If you do decide to disinherit a child, grandchild or other relative, then don't simply fail to mention them in your last will and testament or revocable living trust, specifically state your intent to disinherit them. Seeing it in black and white will certainly drive the point home and discourage a will contest, particularly when language such as "I am intentionally disinheriting Susie for reasons I deem to be good and sufficient and therefore, for all purposes of this will, Susie will be deemed to have predeceased me" is used at the very beginning of your will.

5. Check your beneficiary designations and update them if necessary. Sometimes in the haste to make sure that a potential heir is disinherited in a will or trust, beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, are overlooked. If you have decided to disinherit a potential heir, then make sure that all of your assets are titled properly and all of your beneficiary designations are up to date.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams Quotes

Robin Williams

Robin Williams Quotes

Robin Williams passed away on August 11, 2014, but his legacy will go on forever. An Academy Award winner, his comedy brought comfort to so many people over the years. To remember him, take a look at some of his most unforgettable quotes.
If you have watched the evolution of this great comedian since his Mork and Mindy days, you would recollect that Williams was full of energy and life. Robin Williams had the unusual charm of an innocent kid, while still looking older than his co-stars. His humor and impish charm was infectious, winning the hearts of millions of kids worldwide. Robin Williams' character, as a boy suffering from progeria, in the movie Jack is endearing, and heartbreaking at the same time. He appeals to the child within you, making you fall in love with childhood.
Who can forget the unforgettable Mrs. Doubtfire? Or for that matter Bicentennial Man? When Robin Williams donned the greasepaint, he did it with a purpose. He got into the flesh of the character and enacted the role consummately. Here are some Robin Williams quotes that give a glimpse into the workings of the witty mind of this brilliant stand up comedian and gifted actor.
  • We had gay burglars the other night. They broke in and rearranged the furniture.
  • Do you think God gets stoned? I think so... look at the platypus.
  • Mickey Mouse to a three-year-old is a six-foot-tall rat!
  • Gentiles are people who eat mayonnaise for no reason.
  • What's right is what's left if you do everything else wrong.
  • In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, "Stop, or I'll say stop again."
  • (Before opening an envelope for best supporting actress)
    I feel like Adam when he said to Eve, "Back up, I don't know how big this gets."
  • I like my wine like my women… ready to pass out.
  • Ah! So many pedestrians… so little time.
  • When the media ask George W. Bush a question, he answers, "Can I use a lifeline?"
  • I'm looking for Miss Right, or at least, Miss Right Now.
  • Ah, yes, divorce... from the Latin word meaning "to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet."
  • People say satire is dead. It's not dead; it's alive and living in the White House.
  • Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs.
  • The only people flying to Europe will be terrorists, so it will be, "Will you be sitting in armed or unarmed?"
  • Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?
  • The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying, "Give me your poor, your tired, your huddled masses." She's got a baseball bat and yelling, "You want a piece of me?"
  • You could talk about same-sex marriage, but people who have been married (say) "It's the same sex all the time."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fifteen Exceptional Things that Great Teachers Do

Fifteen Exceptional Things that Great Teachers Do

Most of us have had the privilege of having a great teacher. Great teachers go above and beyond to ensure that each child is successful. Many of us have had that one teacher that inspired us more than any other. Great teachers are able to bring the best out of every student. They are often energetic, fun, and seemingly always at the top of their game. Their students look forward to coming to their class each day. When they are promoted to the next grade, they are sad that they are leaving, but armed with the skills necessary to be successful.

Great teachers are rare. Many teachers are capable, but there are a select few who are more than just capable. They are innovators, communicators, and educators. They are compassionate, endearing, charming, and funny. They are creative, smart, and ambitious. They are passionate, personable, and proactive. They are dedicated, continuous learners who are gifted in their craft. They are in a sense the total package.
So what makes someone a great teacher? There is not a single answer. Instead, there are several things that great teachers do. Many teachers do a few of these things, but the great teachers consistently do them all.

A great teacher is prepared. Preparation takes a lot of time. Great teachers spend a lot of time outside of the school day preparing for each day. This often includes weekends. They also spend countless hours during the summer working to improve their craft. They prepare detailed lessons, activities, and centers each designed to maximize student learning opportunities. They create detailed lesson plans and often plan for more in a day than they typically can complete.

A great teacher is organized. Being organized leads to efficiency. This allows great teachers minimal distractions and maximizes instructional time. Increasing instructional time will lead to an increase in academic success for students. Organization is about creating an efficient system to find resources and other materials quickly which a teacher needs. There are many different organizational styles. A great teacher finds the system that works for them and makes it better.

A great teacher is a continuous learner. They continuously read and apply the newest research in their classroom. They are never satisfied whether they have taught for one year or twenty. They seek out professional development opportunities, research ideas online and subscribe to multiple teaching related newsletters. Great teachers are not afraid to ask other teachers what they are doing in their classrooms. They often take these ideas and experiment with them in their classroom.

A great teacher adapts. They recognize that each school day and each school year is different. What works for one student or one class may not work for the next. They continuously change things up to take advantage of individual strengths and weaknesses within a classroom. Great teachers are not afraid to scrap entire lessons and start back over with a new approach. They recognize when something is working and stick to it. When an approach is ineffective, they make the necessary changes.

A great teacher evolves. They are constantly changing and never become stale. As trends change, they change with them. They grow each year they teach always improving across multiple areas. They are not the same teacher from year to year. Great teachers learn from their mistakes. They look to improve upon what has been successful and find something new to replace what has been not worked. They are not afraid to learn new strategies, technologies, or implement new curricula.

A great teacher is proactive. Being proactive can stave off a lot of potential problems including academic, discipline, or any other issue. It can prevent a small concern from turning into an enormous problem. Great teachers recognize potential problems immediately and work to fix them quickly. They understand that the time put into correcting a small problem is considerably less than it would be if it ballooned into something bigger. Once it becomes a large issue, it will almost always take away from valuable class time.

A great teacher communicates. Communication is a critical component of a successful teacher. They must be adept at communicating with several subgroups including students, parents, administrators, support personnel, and other teachers. Each of these subgroups must be communicated with differently and great teachers are terrific at communicating with everyone. They are able to communicate so that every person understands the message they are trying to convey. Great teachers keep people informed. They explain concepts well and make people feel comfortable around them.

A great teacher networks. Networking has become a critical component of being a great teacher. It has also become easier. Social networks such as Google+, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest allow teachers from all over the world to share ideas and provide best practices quickly. They also allow teachers to seek input and advice from other teachers. Networking provides a natural support system with those who share a similar passion. It provides great teachers with another means of learning and honing their craft.

A great teacher inspires. They are able to pull the best out of every student they teach. They inspire them to become better students, to maximize their time in the classroom, and to look towards the future. A great teacher takes an interest a student has and helps turn it into a passion making educational connections that will potentially last a life time. They understand that each student is different, and they embrace those differences. They teach their students that it is those differences that often make them exceptional.

A great teacher is compassionate. They hurt when their students hurt and rejoice when their students rejoice. They understand that life happens and that the kids they teach do not control their home lives. Great teachers believe in second chances, but use mistakes to teach life lessons. They offer advice, counseling, and mentoring when necessary. Great teachers understand that school is sometimes the safest place a kid can be.

A great teacher is respected. Respect is earned over time. It does not come easy. Respected teachers are able to maximize learning because they do not typically have classroom management issues. When they have an issue, they are dealt with quickly and in a respectable manner. They do not embarrass or berate the student. Great teachers understand you have to give respect before you earn respect. They are considerable and thoughtful to everyone, but understand that there are occasions where they must stand their ground.

A great teacher makes learning fun. They are unpredictable. They jump into character when reading a story, teach lessons with enthusiasm, take advantage of teachable moments, and provide dynamic hands on activities that students will remember. They tell stories to make real life connections. Great teachers incorporate student interests into their lessons. They are not afraid to do crazy things that motivate their students to learn.

A great teacher goes above and beyond. They volunteer their own time to tutor a struggling student after school or on weekends. They help out in other areas around school when they are needed. A great teacher is the first to help a family of a student in need in any way they can. They advocate for the students when necessary. They look out for each student’s best interest. They do what it takes to ensure that each student is safe, healthy, clothed, and fed.
A great teacher loves what they do. They are passionate about their job. They enjoy getting up each morning and going to their classroom. They are excited about the opportunities they have. They like the challenges that each day presents. Great teachers always have a smile on their face. They rarely let their students know when something is bothering them because they worry it will affect them negatively. They are natural educators because they were born to be a teacher.

A great teacher educates. They not only teach students the required curriculum, but they also teach them life skills. They are in a constant state of teaching, taking advantage of impromptu opportunities that may captivate and inspire a particular student. They do not rely on a main stream or boxed in approach to educate. They are able to take a variety of styles and mold them into their own unique style to meet the needs of the students that they have at any given time.

How to Prepare for a Government Job Interview

How to Prepare for a Government Job Interview
Preparing for a government job interview is not difficult. It just takes time to research the organization and position, anticipate interview questions and prepare questions to ask the hiring manager. Here are the specific things that you can do to prepare for a government job interview.

Devour the Organization’s Website
Researching information on the organization’s website helps you gain a broad understanding of what it does, who it serves, who occupies executive positions, the latest information the organization has put out and what is happening right now.
Remember this information is biased. The organization will put itself in a positive light. Information from other sources will give you a more complete picture. Look at how the agency presents itself in comparison to what other sources tell you. Hopefully, they are similar, but if there is a large difference, the agency may be trying to spin a story when they should be owning up to mistakes.
The website should have hyperlinks to the agency’s enabling statute and administrative rules. Depending on the position you apply for, it may be helpful to review these. You can get the gist of them in layman’s terms elsewhere on the website.
Information on the organization’s website helps you develop questions to ask at the end of the interview. Asking a well-researched question at the end of an interview is a great way to leave a good impression. Such a question shows you did your homework and are genuinely interested in the organization and the position. It does not have to be anything earth-shattering. Just asking what a set of statistics, a chart or a law means can be impressive.

Read the Press Clippings
Search the Internet for news stories about the agency. This will help you learn about the issues that the organization is facing, who is involved and how the agency is responding. Press clippings can help you see where there are disagreements between the agency and lawmakers, interest groups or individuals.
Look at the balance of good press versus bad press. Too much bad press is one of the signs that a government agency is in trouble. Be cautious when considering employment with a troubled agency. You do not want to leave a stable situation for a rocky one.
If the agency is experiencing a reduction in force, avoid that agency unless you have no other options. It is usually the most recent hires that are let go first.

Look for Clues in the Job Posting
A government job posting is usually good about telling you exactly what the agency wants in the person they hire for the position. This is because subsequent documents in the interview process -- such as personality testing, in-basket exercises and interview questions -- are based on the job description. The job description should be highly similar to the position’s performance plan and evaluation criteria.
You should have already gone over the posting in great detail when you applied for the job, but it may take a while for a government agency to go through all the steps necessary to make a list of finalists to be interviewed. Go over the posting again. Spend even more time with it than you did when you applied for the job.
The posting will tell you the knowledge, skills and abilities that you need to demonstrate you have. Think about each of these items in relation to your professional experience. The best indicator of future performance is past performance. Relating the KSA’s to your personal life is acceptable, but it is better to relate them to paid work experience.

Anticipate the Interview Questions
Many of the interview questions will be derived from the job posting. For instance, a job posting may list one of the required abilities as the ability to communicate effectively verbally and in writing to diverse audiences. If you flip the required ability into an interview question, it would be something like this: In your previous experience, how have you communicated effectively to diverse audiences?
If you flip around each KSA into a question, you can prepare yourself for many of the interview questions you will be asked.

Prepare Questions to Ask Your Interviewer
As you prepare for your interview, you will come across things that confuse you or that do not make sense. Perhaps there is a report on the agency’s website or a KSA that could be interpreted several ways. Jot down your questions.
A few days before your interview, take all these questions and assemble a group of about five of the ones that are most relevant to the position and ones that are particularly insightful.
Make sure your questions are not self-centered. Do not ask about pay, benefits, holidays or vacation. These items can be discussed once you have a job offer. Avoid questions about job advancement unless they are absolutely necessary. You want to show your interviewer that you’re interested in doing this job well more than you are about finding the next job.

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