Will or Trust? Why Preparing For The Unexpected Is Important

Understand the importance of having a will or a trust in the event of a disaster.

Q: How do I convince my parents to prepare a will or trust? 

A: A recent 2021 survey by Caring.com revealed that 68% of U.S. adults do not have a will, leaving the majority without documented directives for asset distribution after death. When factoring in those who’ve had a will or trust but lost or misplaced it, this percentage rises to over 83%. Many perceive the need for a will or trust as akin to winning the lottery – something with slim odds of necessity. However, this is a misconception, as unforeseen disasters impact a broader population, prompting a sudden realization of the importance of estate planning.

Tragic Events and Disasters Around the World

Events like the tragic September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and various other disasters forced us to confront the abrupt loss of loved ones. Recent events like the devastating fire in Maui, Hawaii, and the aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Florida are poignant reminders of how swiftly disasters can take life and property away from us. The Maui fire alone obliterated or damaged nearly 3,000 homes and businesses, consuming over 2,500 acres and claiming the lives of 115 people, with many others still missing. It marked the deadliest wildfire incident in the U.S. in over a century.

The aftermath of Hurricane Ian in Florida was equally grim. The property damage reached the billions and left hundreds of thousands without power, gas shortages, spoiled food, and limited access to water and ice. Regrettably, the hurricane claimed 20 lives and destroyed 5,000 homes while severely damaging another 30,000. Such tragedies force us to confront our mortality and the importance of preparing for the unexpected.

Surge in Demand for Wills and Trusts

Following the September 11 tragedy, there was a 25% surge in demand for wills and trusts in the year following. This trend persisted through subsequent crises, including the anthrax scares in 2002. With the commencement of the war on terrorism in 2003, deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq led to a nearly 40% rise in wills for military personnel.

Today, people of all ages are contemplating what would befall their families if a disaster were to strike. Wills and trusts, once primarily the concern of the older generation, are now on the minds of younger individuals. They aim to safeguard their life’s earnings and family treasures and ensure the well-being of their children.

The Benefits of Having a Will or Trust

Without proper planning, your assets may be subject to probate, the legal process for debt payment and property distribution according to a will, or state law without a will. It’s a lengthy process and requires a separate probate in each state where you own property and could cost your family a substantial amount of your total estate value. Such outcomes are avoidable.

A meticulously devised estate plan shields families from financial turmoil, minimizes family disputes over inheritance, and ensures your children are cared for by trusted individuals in the event of your untimely passing. Tell your parents not to wait for a catastrophe and engage an estate planning attorney today who instills confidence that they have taken every measure to safeguard their financial interests and your family’s future.


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Written by Kristen Jackson

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