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Lessons Learned in the Trenches: Everyone in the 9/11 Community Should Have a Will

It has been more than 19 years since that terrible September morning. If we thought in 2001 that we understood the human toll of the September 11th attacks, the passage of years has driven home a devastating truth – 9/11 did not end on 9/11. The painful reality is that more people have now died from 9/11 illnesses than died on 9/11. To our horror, scarcely a day goes by that we don’t lose a client.

We have learned from our work that planning for our families is critically important, and that is especially true for the 9/11 community. We must all ask ourselves: have I done what I can to make things easier for my family, should the worst come to pass? In considering that all-important question, at the top of our to-do list is making sure that we have a valid Last Will and Testament. The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) provides critical funds for family members who have lost a loved one to a 9/11-related illness. Whether and when grieving family members get access to VCF funds depends in large part upon whether their loved one had the foresight to prepare a Will. Here is why:

You will choose the executor of your estate

9/11 families have the right to bring a VCF claim for the loss of a loved one, but there are registration deadlines and filing requirements that must be satisfied. When a person passes away, someone must be appointed by the court as the personal representative of the estate, and that is the person who will have the right to bring the VCF claim. If you have a Will, you can choose who that person will be, and you can make sure that he or she understands the right to bring the claim, and is up to the task of seeing it through.

You will choose who receives the VCF award

Obviously, one of the major reasons people have a Will is so that their assets will be distributed in accordance with their wishes. You are in the best position to decide where your assets should go. A portion of the VCF award will be an asset of your estate. If you have a Will, that part of the VCF award will be distributed according to your wishes. If you do not have a Will, the award will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. In other words, your assets will be distributed in accordance with a formula that does not take your wishes into account at all. In most cases, the laws of intestacy are different than what the person would have directed in their Will, and the absence of a Will creates problems for those left behind.

The process will likely proceed more smoothly

While not universally the case, in many places, where there is a Will, the court will permit the estate representative to collect and distribute the VCF award without returning to court to obtain permission. Where this is the case, the family will receive the award much more quickly than if they had to return to court to seek permission for the distribution of the award.

We’ll prepare your will and health care proxy for free

We have seen too many families endure very hard circumstances that could have been avoided with a will. We think it’s so important that every member of the 9/11 community have a Will, that we prepare Wills for our clients who live in New York State, free of charge. It’s our way of giving back to our community.   To date, we are proud that more than 5,000 of our clients have taken advantage of our offer.  If you haven’t done your Will, what are you waiting for? New York state law now permits will signings via Zoom so you won’t have to leave your home to have this done.

Protect yourself and your family by getting a will. Contact us at 212-385-8000 to learn more and to make an appointment.

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Testimonials
  • "Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson handled everything professionally and with patience. They always had time to answer all my questions and did what they promised. Thanks esp to Brian Calamaris Lee London, and Mariya Atanasova. Thank you." - William Collins, FDNY

  • "If I could give them six stars I would...don't even bother talking to anyone else concerning 9/11. The whole team worked night and day to deliver an outstanding settlement. They are honest, hard working and extremely professional. Just make the one phone call and let them do the rest." - Les Margulis, resident in the exposure zone

  • "I had a very good experience with Michael and Mariya. They made the process stress free. I would recommend this firm to anyone seeking assistance with 9/11 related illnesses." - JE Kirwan, worked in the exposure zone

  • "The people at this firm were just great. They were concern with making sure I was taken care of in every way possible. When I was given an award Mr. Barasch didn't think it was a fair amount and appealed the decision which got me a larger award. I am very satisfied with everything they did for me in the past and are willing to do for me and my family in the future." - Bob Wiecezak, FDNY-Retired

  • "Excellent law firm. Lee London and his staff were very responsive and always followed up with phone calls or emails. This firm is a strong example of what caring and personable lawyers are all about." - Letitia Egan, wife of client, volunteer in the exposure zone

  • Deadline Extended to Register for Compensation


    There is still time to apply for significant compensation if you have been diagnosed with any of the 68 cancers that doctors at the WTC Health Program (WTCHP) have linked to the WTC toxic dust. The deadline to apply to the Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) is two years from the date that a cancer has been certified by the WTC Health Program — or any other governmental agency. The two-year period to register doesn’t start on the day of a cancer diagnosis. Rather, it starts only when a cancer survivor is made aware their cancer was linked to exposure to the WTC toxins.

    For those who died from their WTC-linked cancers, the two-year period for their family to register starts on the day of the death of the WTC victim.

    Register For Compensation

Please help spread the word about the strict two-year deadline to register a claim

Many people have tried to complete the VCF application on their own, only to learn that it requires answers to hundreds of questions and many documents to download. It would be our pleasure to help you complete the process in order to ensure that you receive the compensation that you are entitled to. Please call us for a free consultation.

Let a knowledgeable attorney help you figure it out

A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. You undoubtedly have questions about your disease and how you will pay for treatment. Lawyers at Barasch & McGarry ensure you understand the complex requirements and help devise the best strategies for obtaining compensation and appropriate medical care under the Zadroga Act. Contact our law firm online or call 888-351-9421. The initial consultation is free, so it costs you nothing to find out whether a lawyer can help.
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