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EMS and estate planning: It's not too soon to prepare

Editor's note: Police, firefighters and medics in Mt. Lebanon, Pa., has joined with the Allegheny County Bar Association recently to sponsor a "Wills for Heroes" session to provide free estate planning assistance to first responders.

Preparing a will can feel morbid, especially if you are young, healthy, and the prospect of dying appears to be a long way off. I know that I don't think about it, and until recently hadn't felt that it was important enough to investigate. What the rescuers in Mt. Lebanon, Pa., are doing though, might change that.

Estate planning sounds complicated, and it can be. However, having your legal and financial affairs in order really helps to ensure that your possessions and financial matters are handled with respect and fairness in the event of your death. While the incidence of fatal events in EMS is fairly low, we are exposed to unusual hazards that the general public avoids: ambulance crashes, infectious diseases, hazardous chemicals, bodily violence, just to name a few.

The Wills for Heroes program provides free estate planning documents to first responders, through a network of attorney offices and organizations throughout the country. Created after 9/11 by a South Carolina attorney, the nonprofit organization is supported through a charitable foundation and by volunteer efforts. The planning process is literally brought to the station in a coordinated effort to make it easy and quick to do.

I appreciate efforts like this. I'd never wish ill will on anyone, but I'm glad there's someone out there looking out for us in a way that can make our lives just a little bit simpler.

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