Coronavirus: The Only Paper That Should Concern You Is Your Estate Plan

By now, memes of empty toilet paper aisles are common. The Coronavirus has taken over all parts of our daily lives. I read an interesting study this morning from the Journal of Hospital Infection, which caused me to go down a major rabbit hole. Yesterday, I posted about the Seven Advantages of a Living Trust. During my research for that post, I discovered that 55% of Americans do not have an Estate Plan. With that statistic fresh in my mind, I burrowed deeper into my Coronavirus rabbit hole. Where is what I learned:

The Coronavirus is more deadly than the Flu and lives almost 4-times longer on surfaces as the Flu. With a higher mortality rate and a greater persistence, people are rightly concerned about the Coronavirus. But with runs on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, are people concerning themselves with the right things?

Coronavirus Statistics

To date, 1,325 people in the United States are infected with the Coronavirus. The CDC reports that in 2017, the Flu infected 29,000,000 citizens. Additionally, only 30 people have died from the Coronavirus in the United States. Whereas, 38,000 people died of the Flu in 2017. (The CDC does not have final numbers for 2018 and 2019).

Thus, on the surface, it seems that the Flu is the more frightening virus. So why are people freaking out? I looked at some statistics this morning that shocked me.

The Coronavirus is far more potent than the regular Flu. For example, the Flu can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. But a recent study in the Journal of Hospital Infection found that the Coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to nine days. That is nearly 4-times more persistent than the Flu.

Accordingly, the number of infected in the United States could soar to the tens of millions, just like the Flu. Why is this a concern? Read on.

The Coronavirus is 2,500% More Deadly Than the Flu

Common arguments between family members and friends regarding the Coronavirus center on the fact that the Flu had killed 10,000x more people in a single year than the Coronavirus. For instance, so far this year, only 30 people have died from the Coronavirus. On the other hand, the CDC estimates that between 25,000 and 52,000 people will die of the Flu this year.

Thus, on its face, the argument that the Flu is more deadly is convincing. But, when you look at the mortality rates, the numbers get scary.

This year the Coronavirus has infected 1,325 people and killed 30. That is a mortality rate of 2.2%. Globally, Coronavirus has a mortality rate of 3.4%. By contrast, the Flu has a mortality rate of 0.13% (29,000,000 had the Flu in 2017, and 38,000 died).

If these numbers hold, and Coronavirus infects as many people as the Flu (which its persistence suggests is likely), then Coronavirus could kill as many as 986,000 people in the United States.

I made an Infographic summarizing these points.

Buy an Estate Plan Not Toilet Paper

In preparation for the Coronavirus, frenzied consumers have caused a shortage of toilet paper in many stores throughout the country. But, is toilet paper the most pressing need, even if you are legitimately scared of the Coronavirus?

Yesterday I learned that 55% of people in the United States do not have an estate plan. Another more recent study says that as many as 68% of people in the United States do not have an estate plan. That means (in general) half of the people who die from Coronavirus, will leave their families unprotected and without a plan for their legacy.

Now there are obvious flaws with this argument.

For example, we cannot be sure what percentage of those without an estate plan will contract the Coronavirus. But, we do know that of those who do not have an estate plan, 47.9% are over the age of 55.

This means that if my numbers about the Coronavirus mortality rate is accurate, then 542,300 people will die this year from Coronavirus WITHOUT any kind of estate plan in place.

This should scare you more than your supply of toilet paper.

If you want to know what types of estate plan you need, check out my article called “Estate Planning Explained: How to Leave Your Legacy.”

James Long, JD

James earned his Juris Doctorate in 2010 and was later appointed to serve as an Expert for the Vatican at the United Nations. James is the former Managing Editor of the University of St. Thomas Journal of Law and Public Policy, and an Associate Editor of the St. Thomas Law Journal. James is currently a business lawyer, litigator, and estate planner with nine years' experience helping families and businesses succeed.

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