Wills Are For Rich Folks….and LEOs!
If you’ve ever sat in one of my classes, you know that I always speak to LEOs about getting a will. I raise this issue no matter what class I am teaching because the topic is too important. I also tell my classes that I do not draft wills. I have a group of lawyers who help the LEOs that I send to them.
I often hear LEOs say that they do not have any money, so they do not need a will. I could not disagree more. First, if you are killed in the line of duty, your survivors will receive a considerable amount of money from several sources. Second, a will is your opportunity to give guidance to those who survive you. If you have ever lost someone close to you, you know that a will can be a comfort to your loved ones.
Your estate consists of all of the things you own at the time of your death. If you do not have a will, your estate be handled according to state law. Your property will be divided and a court will appoint someone to manage that process. The person who manages your estate also has the ability to bring suits on behalf of your estate. That means if someone is responsible for your death, your estate has the right to bring a suit against them. This could be an individual, a motorist or a company regarding any sort of product liability.
When you draft a will, you should also consider guardianship for your minor children and an advanced directive or similar document that allows someone to make medical decisions on your behalf. Finally, you can set up one or more trusts for your children. If you think there will not be any money to fund those trusts, think again.
A line of duty death has the potential to bring compensation from several sources. Most departments provide a death benefit and most FOP lodges do the same along with the Grand Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police. If you are an NRA member, there is a $25,000 benefit and other funds available for scholarships for the dependents of fallen LEOs. The United States Department of Justice also has benefit programs for line of duty deaths and severe disabilities and many states have similar programs. Concerns of Police Survivors or COPS, has a list of resources available to survivors.
I am asked all the time if you should write your own will. In my humble opinion, that is like using a “neurosurgery at home” kit. You can save a lot of money, but good luck fixing your mistakes! I hired a lawyer to draft wills for my wife and me because it was too important and I do not write wills everyday. I’m certain that there are lawyers in your communities willing to provide reduced will related services for LEOs in your community. All you need to do is ask.
Make certain a trusted friend or two has a copy of the will to make things easier and let other friends and relatives know where they can find a copy. Your survivors will have a lot on their shoulders. These small steps will help them.
I know you feel the same way about needing a will as I do in one respect. The Grim Reaper better not bring a sickle to a gunfight ’cause I am not going anywhere without a fight! However, there is no denying that we will all leave this earth at some time. Far from being a way to divide a fortune, a will helps your survivors through the most devastating time in their lives.
Something to think about. Stay safe.