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What Are The Odds That You Will Die an Untimely Death?

by Rania Combs

My colleague, Candice Aiston, an Oregon estate planning attorney, included some sobering statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (pdf) in a recent article.

According to the CDC, 121,087 people ages 25 to 45 died in the United States in 2007. The leading cause of death was accidents (24 percent), followed by cancer (14 percent) and heart disease (12 percent). The same year, 469,491 people ages 45 to 64 died in the United States. The leading cause of death among this demographic was cancer (32 percent), followed by heart disease (21 percent) and accidents (6 percent).

While those deaths represent just a small fraction of each demographic group, putting the deaths in term of people dying rather than a percentage of the population really hit home for me. In all, more than half a million relatively young people’s lives were cut short by things like accidents and illness.

That’s more than half a million families who have grieved an untimely loss. And based on the results of a recent survey, more than half of these people died without even the most basic estate planning documents in place. That’s a lot of people!

We all like to think that unexpected illnesses and accidents are things that happen to other people. But the truth is that we are all at risk. None of us is special. Tragedy can happen to any of us and any age. We owe it to our families to be prepared.

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About Rania

Rania graduated magna cum laude from South Texas College of Law Houston and is the founder of Rania Combs Law, PLLC. She has been licensed to practice law since 1994 and enjoys helping clients in Texas and North Carolina create estate plans that give them peace of mind.

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  1. Britt

    June 2, 2011 at 2:03pm

    Many people do not realize how much frustration can be avoided with a few simple estate planning documents. In the event of unexpected death, families are already terribly burdened. A properly planned estate will ease the burden a little for grieving families.

    1. Rania Combs

      June 2, 2011 at 2:56pm

      Thanks for your comment, Britt. I think the same is true with a sudden illness. I wrote an article last September about a man who was told he had a rare illness and had only two months to live. Fortunately, two years before his diagnosis and death, he had the wisdom to visit an attorney to have an estate plan made. He asked that his brother share his story to impress on others what a blessing it was to have everything in order so that he didn’t have to spend the days he had left worrying about these matters.