April Harris Jackson

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It’s Beginning to Look Like Return Season

For the past year and a half, I have done almost all of my holiday gift shopping online. Which is great- until I need to return something. For those of you who read the blog and our newsletter, you know I love to share my life hacks, so I wanted to introduce you to my favorite new local business, noted.  Thanks to entrepreneur Alexis Jones, I’ve been able to return items on a tight deadline and clear out items I’ve had in a donation pile for far too long, without even leaving my house!  

With the holiday gift giving season upon us, no doubt there will be a flurry of returns soon. Noted, returns with heart stands by its name and agreed to share some ideas that your gift recipients won’t want to return.  But in case you do need to make a return, say goodbye to those post-holiday return lines, misplaced gift receipts, and lack of time. Create a way to make this holiday season a success for you and all those around you by scheduling your return with noted


It’s Beginning to Look Like Return Season – A Holiday Gift Giving Guide for 2021

Contributed by Lauren Bogardus from noted returns

Christmas shopping is right around the corner, and that is just another way of saying “yikes!” Just kidding! I’m not saying that Christmas shopping is exactly bad. We all know Black Friday is its own fun experience. What I’m bashing is gift receipts, return policies, and disappointed looks from family and friends. 

When I was in elementary school, there was a holiday gift shop at school with gifts ranging from $1 to $5, and I WISH we could bring that back. However, that is not an option. 

With the holiday season approaching, everyone works to find that oh-so-perfect gift for the people around them and sometimes we’ll come up a little short. I figured now’s the time to enlighten y’all on some alternative ways to shop for others without the stress! Not to mention avoiding those crazy Black Friday hours AND lines.

Close up of a Christmas tree with red quilted stockings. Holiday gift giving doesn't have to be wrapped up under a tree!
This the season for gift giving and giving back to the community.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Holiday Gift Card Galore

You see the word gift card and immediately want to shut me down. Give me a chance to explain. Please. No, gift cards are not a cop-out. Over the years, it has become a thing that if you give a monetary card, that one barely knows them or is playing it safe. Hello? If you pick the store that you KNOW an individual loves most, how is that something to be upset about? 

For the last 6-7 years, my grandma has given us a can of pringles (family tradition for 15+years) then hand selects a gift card tailored to each grandkids taste. This can range from Target to Fandango, and even car washes! 

Just as much thought and effort go into this as hand picking a wrapped present. This is a gift that genuinely can make anyone around you feel loved and understood, as long as effort still goes into it. Do not just gift everyone a Walmart one and call it a day. Take a bit of time to think it through. Not to mention, you can purchase gift cards online and eliminate in-person shopping altogether. Plus, the pressure to go out to busy stores and drive through the snow hunting for weeks straight is eliminated. 

A gift card almost guarantees that the person gifted the card will be able to find the perfect thing they want. Expect a joyful thank you note following the holidays sharing with you what they purchased. You know the expression. Think smarter, not harder.

Gift a Dinner Date this Holiday Season

A personal favorite of mine during the holidays is giving the gift of a meal. To be honest with y’all, I enjoy gifting more than receiving because the awkward “oh thank you” after receiving an underwhelming gift is really hard for me to fake. I cannot imagine how hard it is for others when you miss the nail. 

That is why I started to treat those in my life to a meal out. No one is ever going to turn down a meal. To make sure the meal happens, I usually include a card and a couple restaurant options. This is not just a short-term present but an experience. You can share the season with someone who means something to you. The whole shebang. Pick up the person you gifted. Dress for the occasion and make sure they understand money is no option. (If you are the one being gifted this, maybe don’t order lobster). Encourage them to order a cocktail or a glass of wine, and especially dessert! 

Okay, so return season, right? This is a gift that is IMPOSSIBLE to give back. Sure, I suppose the gift receiver could not follow through so YOU need to be intentional about this meal. A flawless way to avoid the uncomfortable gift received vibe, do not overlook a nice meal, and a way to steer clear of return season.

Close up of two champagne glasses filled with rosé on a Christmas evening. Holiday gift giving can be an experience.
Support a family owned restaurant and gift a relaxing evening to someone you love!
Photo by Zoe on Unsplash

Full Family Fun

Gift cards and dinner dates work great for those one-on-one scenarios, but what about a couple options for the whole family. My parents often gifted us one gift from Santa that we would share. One year it was the Wii, and another year a BB gun. This year, my mom called me and asked what I would be doing in the afternoon on December 26th. She did not give me any details, but she planned something for my whole family to go out and do. It is an experience!

Nashville has so many activities in the area that are not only family geared, but also an affordable price for a family gift. A few that come to mind include, a tour of the Grand Ole Opry, Music City Hall of Fame, and The Nashville Zoo, which I made an effort to see when I came to town last May.

Find a day over the kid’s holiday break, to pull everyone away from their electronics, toys, and the television. Load them into the van and keep it all a surprise! Spend the morning or afternoon exploring a new part of town or a store they love. End the outing with a family favorite ice cream shop! If it’s still cold out, hit up a place with the best hot chocolate with whipped cream and chocolate sauce on top.

Not every gift has to be unwrapped, so this is a great way to show the family the memories are priceless. There is excitement in unwrapping gifts, so if you want to let the kids know in advance the trip they are going on, here’s a tip. Print a picture of where you are taking them or a receipt. Fold it up into tiny pieces and place it in a box. Wrap the box up with holiday paper after that! Repeat the process until you are convinced it will take them long enough to open it up. Yeah, this is a bit silly, but it keeps the present unwrapping fun intact.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season is like no other. Birthdays are one thing but gifting in December is on a whole other level. The pressure of giving correctly is never-ending. The possibilities of a gift card, dinner dates, and an experience are simple ways to clean up that fear. None of these are things anyone would ever want to return! 

5 Things Every Songwriter Needs to Know About Gifting Copyrights Through Wills

5 Things Every Songwriter Needs to Know About Gifting Copyrights Through Wills

Heading into the month of December, we wanted to focus on the idea of gifting. While in our line of work, we often think of gifting in terms of taxes or inheritance, but there are so many other ways to leave gifts to those in your life.  We asked our colleague Alyssa at Purple Fox Legal to share with us some of the “gifts that keep on giving” through intellectual property law, which is her focus.  If Alyssa’s post helps you or you have questions about your copyrights or trademarks, reach out to her at or 629-248-3310.  -April 

Guest Blogger Alyssa J. Devine, Esq.  at Purple Fox Legal

Image of a street sign called Music Square in Nashville Tennessee.
Owning the copyright to a song is an amazing accomplishment!

Professional creatives, like songwriters and musicians, pour endless amounts of time, energy, and passion into their craft. They spend months perfecting each project, and years carrying the pride of a job well done. And, for many, this hard work continues to live long after they do.

This is where estate planning comes in. Proper estate planning guarantees that your legacy will be managed according to your standards, even when you’re not around to do so. The process names the people and organizations that can lay claim to your assets, and protects your work with red tape and safety nets. It is a critical step in any songwriter’s life.

Knowing the importance of something, and understanding how to do it are two separate matters. In this article, we’re introducing musicians and songwriters (like you!) to the most basic steps of estate planning. We’re covering the top five important tips for songwriters planning their estate.

1. Understand how property is transferred through estate planning

Comprehensive estate planning is crucial for ensuring that all property is transferred to its intended parties. While most estate plans will easily transfer common assets, like cash, vehicles, and real estate, professional songwriters also need to consider protecting their intellectual property. Intellectual property, like copyright, is incredibly important for you to continue providing a stream of income that can flow for generations.

To truly understand estate planning, songwriters must understand what an estate actually is. In layman’s terms, an estate is a portfolio that includes all property (tangible and intangible) accumulated throughout an individual’s lifetime. After your passing, all of your property, assets, and funds will become the property of the estate.

Once you pass on, all of your estate planning goes into action. The executor, or person responsible for carrying out the probate process, will distribute your property through a complex legal procedure. Your final wishes and requests will be followed, typically passed down in the form of a will. A judge will direct your executor to follow state regulations to transfer your assets and distribute your property.

Close up on a row of guitars made in Nashville Tennessee
Create a paper trail! Protect your songs by properly registering them with the Copyright Office.

2. Register your copyrights and maintain copies of every contract associated with them

Copyright registration is paramount in the songwriter’s estate plan. Registering your copyrights will ensure that they are protected for up to 70 years after the author’s death. But, songwriters and musicians should recognize that each song they produce carries two copyrights. It’s not only the sound recording and “master” copyright that matters but the musical composition must also be protected. This includes the lyrics and underlying music.  

To add another layer of complexity, copyright protection doesn’t end with registration. A consistent and cohesive record should be kept of all contracts associated with your copyright. This will help clarify the copyrights owned by the estate itself.

Remember: A notice to the Copyright Office is also required each time a copyright changes ownership. If copyrights are not included in the estate, they cannot be distributed to heirs. Filing with the Copyright Office is so important because it creates a public chain of custody and lowers the likelihood of litigation after your death.  

3. Add beneficiaries to your performance rights organizations and mechanical rights organizations

When it comes to copyright law, registration grants the owner a number of different legal rights. In fact, the US Copyright Act provides six unique and exclusive rights for each copyright. And, each registration lasts long past the life of the author.

Because of this, every songwriter should consider adding potential beneficiaries to transfer control of these six unique protections. Including intended beneficiaries during the estate planning process can prevent expensive litigation after your death. But first, each beneficiary must be added to a musician’s Performance Rights

Organization (PRO) and Mechanical Rights Organization (MRO), in addition to creating a will.

Most musicians are familiar with and registered with both a PRO and MRO. PROs are responsible for administering performance licenses, collecting licensing fees, and distributing these fees. They handle music that is publicly broadcasted on the radio or the Internet, in television shows, or out in public. MROs, on the other hand, collect mechanical royalties. They reserve a fee each time your song is played.

Accurate, updated information is required in both your PRO and MRO accounts. Adding beneficiaries to them cannot be recommended enough.

4. Be aware of the deadline for recapturing copyrights

When a copyright is created and then assigned to someone else, the original author is afforded an opportunity for a second bite of the apple. This means that original authors can elect to recapture copyright ownership by filing a specific notice with the US Copyright Office. It’s important to know that there is a limited period of time before the termination goes into effect.

For many songwriters, recapture is available as early as 35 years after publication.

Close up of two hands giving a gift box with a red bow on it.
Not all gifts come from a store! What will you do with your art?

5. Write down how you want your property to be transferred before creating a will

A valid and effective will is just one step in the estate planning process, but it may be the most important one. A will dictates exactly where your assets will go after your death, including the methods of transfer and the terms you expect. Anything in a will is subject to probate court though, which is why it shouldn’t be the only document in your estate plan. Wills serve best when used as a safety net for any assets not covered in your other estate planning documents.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to estate planning and managing your assets, age should never be a factor. Songwriters with assets should always be protected. Just look at Kurt Cobain and Selena Quintanilla, who didn’t have wills when they died. Their lack of an estate plan created a whirlwind of legal problems for their families.

Creating a will can be overwhelming The process to get there can be overwhelming though, but having help from an experienced attorney can make the process seamless for you and your family.

How to Prevent Abusive Caregiver Situations

How to Prevent Abusive Caregiver Situations

Last week we looked at red flags you should pay attention to with regards to caregivers and professionals in your network. This week we’ll look at how to prevent abusive caregiver situations and how to deal with abuse once it has occurred. Below are some actions you can take to guard against people in your network taking advantage of you. 

Things you can do now: 

Take advantage of your free yearly credit report.

You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax). Hot tip! Space them out! Sign up to get one every four months. This will make it easier to discover any irregular activity fairly quickly.  

Ask your banker if they have completed the “BankSafe” program from AARP. 

BankSafe is a training platform designed to help financial professionals identify and stop suspected exploitations from caregivers. Ask your bank if they have participated in this training. If your bank has not had this training, encourage them to do so! Or consider moving funds to a bank or credit union that has already participated.  

Budget for paid assistance.

Remember that as much as family and friends may want to help, sometimes they can’t.  It’s important to make sure that you are able to afford assistance for things like traveling to appointments, grocery shopping, laundry, nutritious meals, cleaning, and other personal help you may need if you were injured or developed a medical condition. Endeavor to have enough of your retirement savings to ensure you can afford a positive work environment for your future caregivers. 

Power of Attorney documents on a table with a pen and manilla folder
Create a Durable Power of Attorney

Create a Durable Power of Attorney.

This Power of Attorney allows someone you trust to monitor and manage your finances, if needed. This could be a family member or close friend.  With access to bank accounts and credit card statements, they should be able to notice quickly if your spending habits change or if there is fraudulent activity on your account and they’ll be able to file a claim to protect your money! 

Things to keep in mind for later: 

Listen to your loved ones.

If you have a caregiver that is not in your family, do yourself a favor and trust a loved one’s opinion if they sense unsettling behavior from that caregiver. Sometimes others are able to see things that we are too close to observe. 

Don’t become too reliant on one person. 

You can have a housekeeper come every other week to clean the surfaces, a home health nurse to check on your health, and a food delivery service to prepare your meals or deliver groceries. Surround yourself with people who like their jobs.

Let family and friends know you welcome their visits and calls. 

Tell them what has been going on in your life and find out what is going on with them.  Maybe a few favorite snacks in the cupboard will even bring the grandkids by.  

Mother and daughter laying on bed, relaxing, visiting and smiling. Let family visit and call you to prevent abusive caregiver situations
Let family and friends know you welcome their visits

Don’t give up your routines.

Self-care is so important, we all know that! If you feel yourself falling into a slump, get outdoors, go to the store, call a friend or ask someone for help. You deserve to be loved and to love yourself. No matter what anyone says, you are the conductor of your life. 

“Stranger danger” isn’t just for children. 

As adults we get comfortable interacting with all kinds of people, but remember that not everyone has your best interest in mind. Beware of helpful people who appear out of nowhere! Trust your instincts and listen to your inner-voice. 

Don’t keep secrets.

If anyone tells you to keep a secret from your friends or family, something is very wrong. Red alert! 

Report anyone who threatens to physically harm you.

Call the police and tell your trusted loved ones. There are no second chances when it comes to your personal safety.  

smart looking older adult female wearing fashionable clothing and a red hat holding a smart phone. Practice being assertive to prevent abusive caregiver situations
Practice being assertive with others

Remember that “no” is a complete sentence.

If you are a people pleaser, practice different ways of saying “no” so you’ll be more comfortable in situations where you need to say it.