Global Pandemic Causes a Surge in Demands for Wills

Our future is unclear as COVID-19 sweeps the country. More than 1.4 million Americans have become infected. As of mid-May, there are more than 88,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths.

Such news is making people in all stages of life reflect deeply on their health and how to take care of their families after they die. One way is with a will.

COVID-19 leads to surge in wills

Young Parents are Demanding Wills in a Time of Crisis

People of all ages are succumbing to the virus so the demand for wills is surging. Many non- seniors are reading about and requesting wills and other estate planning services.

Tara Waters, a 42-year-old mother of two, made a will in early April. A police officer from Weymouth, Massachusetts, she reasoned:

“I’m not loaded, I don’t have a fortune for people to fight over, but I have two small kids. I definitely want to make sure that if something happens … our wishes are put down in legal form.”

Estate Planning Services are Reporting a Surge

Her sentiments aren’t unique. The CEO of an online estate-planning service reported a 143% increase in people making wills in early April, and she expects the rise will continue. According to her, people thought wills and estate planning services were for the wealthy. They’re learning that’s not the case.

A New York estate planning lawyer reported a 50% increase in inquiries about estate planning, especially healthcare advance directives.

“I’ve had a lot of calls and email questions doing health care-advance directives. This pandemic is causing us all to think about it, or who we are naming to make healthcare decisions for us in the event that we are unable to speak.”

It’s Never a Bad Time for a Will or Trust

As the virus cuts short the lives of people of all ages, there’s growing awareness that wills are critically important, especially for parents of young children.

The New York estate planning attorney also reported an uptick in interest for  lesser known legal documents, such as ethical wills — which offer words of wisdom for their family members and loved ones — rather than distribute assets. She’s also receiving more inquiries about trusts. She noted:

“I feel like there is a general sense that parents want to make things easier and smoother for their children, and … that might be doing a trust instead of a will. A trust takes effect immediately upon a parent’s death and is … a gift to the next generation in terms of simplicity.”

What are the Differences Between Trusts and Wills?

Wills and trusts serve some of the same purposes — but in different ways. Both establish what should be done with your assets, who should benefit from them, and more; but a will only goes into effect after you die. A trust, instead, can take care of you before your death, and if you become mentally or physically incapacitated.

Trusts tend to be more flexible than wills and allow families to avoid issues presented in probate. A will must go through probate, a lengthy legal process by which the court controls the distribution of your assets.

Experienced Estate Planning in the Washington, DC and Maryland

Attorney Clifford Cohen of The Law Offices of Clifford M. Cohen has more than 35 years of experience providing estate planning services in the Maryland and D.C. area. He is dedicated to providing peace of mind as you plan your future. To learn more about wills and trusts, or to create an effective estate plan for you and your family, call 202-895-2799 or complete our contact form.