Friday, December 14, 2001

Lawyers report a demand for wills

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        There is a greater demand for wills in the Tristate since the Sept. 11 attacks, lawyers say.

        Once the concern of mostly older people, wills are now on the minds of younger people concerned with who will get their life's savings, family heirlooms and custody of their children.

        “They leave nothing to chance anymore,” said Pierre Tismo, a Covington lawyer.

        “A lot of people are realizing how fleeting our lives are. Every day, car accidents happen. Now, we have even more troubling problems of terrorist attacks that can occur at any time in our country.”

        His firm, Sanders, Tismo & Associates, concentrates in medical malpractice work but has been drawing up more wills in the past three months, he said.

        In New York, trust and estate law firms are being inundated with will-writing requests. To a lesser extent, lawyers across the country also are reporting a noticeable upsurge, according to the American Bar Association.

        “People have seen that we don't all have a normal life expectancy. We're mortal. They've seen it firsthand. That's always been the case but it certainly was brought to our attention,” said Christine Buttress of Graydon, Head & Ritchey in downtown Cincinnati.

        Her clients have a greater “sense of urgency,” she said; they aren't getting bogged down in the details that confounded them for lengthy periods of time.

        In addition to updating or drawing up wills, people are updating their trusts and older documents, said Blue Ash lawyer Barry Zimmer, who since Sept. 11 has been emphasizing the importance of wills to more than 500 of his clients.

        “Across the board, people are concerned about getting their trusts ... and their wills up to date and making sure their wealth is being passed down the way they want,” he said.

        “People are taking a fresh look at their mortality and how important it is to plan. Death isn't something that just happens to the elderly. People can be stricken down in the prime of life.”

        Sept. 11 made people aware that, in a second, control over one's life could be wrenched away. But people still can control what happens afterward.

        “We certainly can make a difference for ourselves by being prepared (and) planning with our family values in mind,” Mr. Zimmer said.

        “If someone dies without a will or without a trust, the state will determine who will get their money.”


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