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More West Texans drafting wills due to COVID-19

25-30% more West Texans are consulting local law firms about will writing and estate planning right now compared to March 2020, pre-pandemic.

MIDLAND, Texas — Lawyers in the Permian Basin have seen an increase in clients looking to write wills.

"The first thing we're going to do is just identify who the person is, we call them the testator, their marital status, who their spouse is, who their children are if any," said Shaun Rainey, Midland estate planning lawyer.

This is the exact conversation many people are having these days. West Texans are going over writing wills and planning estates.

"With COVID there's been a very interesting amount of change to the work. Essentially a lot of clients who maybe had been putting things off for a period of time or trying to figure out exactly what they wanted to do renewed their energy to come and actually finish estate planning projects that they had started, and we got a lot of new calls related to estate planning for people who maybe hadn't thought about it before," Rainey said.

Law firms saw a sharp increase in clients wanting to meet about their wills last fall. Coming up on this fall, it's the same story. Their phones are still ringing.

"One of the things that we have seen with COVID is a number of individuals coming in, including younger families who are starting to look at and think if something were to happen to me and my spouse, particularly something tragic and we left kids behind, who's going to have those kids, how are they going to be taken care of," Rainey said.

One of the topics getting more attention is whether these clients want to be kept on life support.

"With COVID and the use of ventilators, we've seen a number of individuals take time and we've taken more time to explain that portion of the document prior to their execution of a directive to physicians," Rainey said.

It's not that there are different things to consider now, it's that there are more people considering them.

"Unlike a lot of other diseases, unlike a lot of other medical issues, it has hit a broader spectrum of the community. It continues to have individuals in the hospital young to old, so I think the biggest thing that we've seen is a large subset of people throughout the community looking at and determining how to divide their assets," Rainey said.