Sharon Baker-Boykin Discusses The Importance of a Last Will and Testament
Sharon Baker-Boykin, owner of Power of 1 Decision, LLC, is a business owner, worker, giver, author, and attorney that has been practicing law for almost 40 years. Sharon Baker-Boykin is a child of God, wife of Raymond Boykin, and the oldest child of Carolyn and Charlie (deceased) Baker.
During her career, she has been in private practice, a part-time magistrate court judge, a prosecutor, managed two state departments, a probate court administrator, and worked in a local county government managing programs during the pandemic. She enjoys using her varied career experiences to educate others to help them grow and achieve all that they want to achieve as their legal life coach.
We’ve obtained an exclusive interview with Sharon to learn more about her company, her latest book, what she enjoys most about being an Attorney and Legal Life Coach, and more!
Please tell us about Power of 1 Decision, LLC.
Sharon: Power of 1 Decision, LLC is the name of my company. The name reminds me and others that the power to change your life comes from first making a decision to do something differently to get a different powerful result. There is no sitting still in life. You are either going forward or going backwards. You are not standing still. If you do not like where you are, you must do something differently. The first thing is to make a decision to change and then the help will come to help you on your journey to change to make your life better.
What do you enjoy most about being an Attorney and Legal Life Coach?
Sharon: My legal background is varied. Some of the different areas of the law that I have experience in includes:
Family law — divorces, child custody, child support, visitation issues;
Assistant Magistrate Court Judge — this is the small claims court, signed warrants, and conducted marriages;
Special Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney — I prosecuted cases for the Office of Child Support Enforcement in 2 different judicial circuits; and
Probate Court Administrator — this is the court that handles cases when you die with or without a Last Will and Testament, needing a guardian, needing a conservator, getting a marriage license, and getting a gun license.
As you can see this legal background is varied and sometimes one does not see someone who looks like me in the roles I have been in. People get themselves into many legal dilemmas and do not seek legal assistance before the matter turns in a negative way. Because I love to help others, I use my business as a Legal Life Coach to talk to individuals, couples, families, groups, churches, organizations, etc. on many topics. I talk to them in the simplest of formats so that they do not feel like they cannot ask me a question or follow up. I am not talking above anyone’s head nor talking down to them. I want to talk in a way that they can fully understand the legal issue so that they can make that POWERFUL DECISION to change their life and the situation for the better.
What have been some challenges throughout your career? How did you overcome those challenges?
Sharon: There have been many. But let me begin with law school itself. I was a first year law student back in 1981. There were 10 black students in the first year class — 8 males and 2 females. There were about a total of about 150 students in the first year law class. It was an interesting experience. Some people treated us like we did not deserve to be there. This was an everyday situation. I called home after my first class and told my mom that I do not think I want to be there. She calmed me down and said that she believed in me and I will make it. When you are the first in your family to do something, especially something big in life, you are the first person going through the jungle with the machete knife, you are going to get cut. But you have to keep going to prepare the path for others to follow behind you on a path that is better for them.
How did the book “Help Me Get My Stuff in Order: A Simple Workbook to Walk You Through Getting Your Last Will and Testament Done” come about? What has been some feedback you’ve received?
Sharon: My father, Charlie Baker, died the Friday before Father’s Day in 2018. Then I had a family member to pass somewhere in the US in July, August, September, October, November, December, and January (2019). I then became the first Probate Court Administrator in DeKalb County Georgia in May of 2019. So going through that many deaths in my family and then working for the court that handles this type of legal matter, I was prepared on the inside and the outside with this area of the law.
My sister, Karen, encouraged me to write a book about what happens when someone dies with and especially without a Will. Not all of my family members had a Will when they died. Her one request was that the book would not be full of legal words and terminology that the average person does not know nor feel comfortable in asking what something means. I do not have to show how smart I am by using legal words in the book. She said to keep it simple.
Also, when I was a young attorney, I had a client, an elderly woman in her eighties, who came to see be about doing her Last Will and Testament. She brought me ten sheets of notebook paper where she itemized everything she owned and who she wanted to have it when she transitioned. When I say everything, I mean everything. Sheets, towels, dishes, jewelry, shoes, purses, hats, clothes, etc. She described the color of these things and who she wanted to leave it to. She said that she had been through too many family fights over the stuff of deceased family members and she did not want the same results when it was her time to transition. She asked me not to laugh at what she did. I told her no mam. In fact she was probably one of the smartest clients that I have had in this area. She wanted me to put it in proper legal format and she came back to sign it. She had such a big smile on her face when she did that.
So, the book is entitled, “Help Me Get My Stuff In Order: A Simple Workbook to Walk You Through Getting Your Last Will and Testament Done.” I think almost everyone would know what the book is about based upon this title. It is a workbook so that you are answering questions about your stuff and who you want to leave it to. Then you are ready to get the legal Last Will and Testament done. There are also other legal documents that address your stuff and what you want to see what happens to all of it when you make your transition in life. We cannot take any of our stuff with us. So, who gets all that we have worked so hard in acquiring? Will you decide who gets it or will you allow your state to decide who gets it?
I have had a lot of positive feedback on the book. In fact, one person told me that she and other family members had been talking to their mom about her getting a Will done. Mom did not want to talk about it. Then she gave her mom my book and her mom was actually working through the book and answering the questions. Now mom was ready to get her Will done.
I truly felt good about that and other positive reactions that I have received about the book.
We salute your career journey as you use your varied experiences to educate and help others to grow and achieve all that they want to achieve as their legal life coach. What are some reasons your clients come to you for your services?
Sharon: I do spend a lot of time on estate planning and the family law areas. When I was a prosecutor — both Special Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney — for the Office of Child Support Enforcement, there was a lot of feedback from the audience on this area. I spoke at a school once to a class of young girls by themselves and then to a class of young boys by themselves. There is a lot of misinformation on the issue of child support. The young girls stated that they wanted someone to love them which is why they wanted to have a baby. But their next issue was why does it take so long for the child support check to start? My comments back on that question was why do you want the government to take care of the child you wanted financially. Why didn’t you prepare for that yourself?
When I talked to the young boys, they thought they were being men by having a baby with a girl. I asked them if they had a job to be able to support their children? The answer was no. Well, I then told them that if they are still living at home with mom and dad, still in school full time, still under the age of 18, and the mother of their child goes to apply for child support from the government, then me — the prosecutor — will be coming after the boy’s parents to reimburse the state for the money that the child’s mother is receiving. The parents of the young boy do not have a clue about legally what is getting ready to happen. Then when the boy turns 18, then the prosecutor is coming after them to reimburse the state for the money that the mother of the child is receiving.
What do you want your legacy to look like?
Sharon: I hope that my legacy will show my commitment to helping others in so many legal areas of their life and they understand what the issue is and how to resolve it. My first 3 books are a trilogy of the life of a couple — Denzel and Sharon — as they create their perfect life. Now I did not say that their last name was Washington — LOL. But I use this couple to walk through life and touch the legal and business issues and areas that I have worked in. Each book has a separate workbook so that the reader can take notes if what Denzel and Sharon are going through mirrors what they may be going through. Now they can document their issue and see what Denzel and Sharon did to resolve their issues and go and get help in their personal life.
Some of those issues Denzel and Sharon dealt with were: getting married, buying a home, getting life insurance, and handling debt. As I mention above, one of the chapters of the book addresses child support and grandparent’s visitation rights when Denzel and Sharon’s high school son gets his girlfriend pregnant and the grandparents want visitation rights. Other issues in the book include what happens when Denzel’s dad who is getting older and needs a guardian (to handle his personal matters) and a conservator (to handle his money) but not all of Denzel’s sisters and brothers agree with what needs to happen. Denzel was married before and he and the first wife had a special needs child that needs Social Security benefits, as well as retirement.
So I hope that my legacy will be that Sharon lived her life learning things and she used what she learned to help somebody else.
Be sure to check out Sharon’s latest feature via Our Black Woman Magazine here: https://ourblkwoman.com/2023/04/interview-with-sharon-bakerboykin-owner-of-power-of-1-decision-llc/