Tuesday, August 03, 2010

"Wills for Heroes" Workshops Multiply in PA & DE

The Pennsylvania Bar Association presses forward on its successfully-sponsored "Wills for Heroes" program, promoted by its Young Lawyers Division.

The program is described by the PBA-YLD as follows:

“Wills for Heroes” provides police, fire and emergency medical personnel -- those on the frontlines for our personal safety -- the tools they need to prepare adequately for the future.

Programs are staffed by lawyer volunteers and are conveniently offered to first responders at meeting halls and police and fire stations.

The PBA and the Wills for Heroes Foundation are hosting upcoming events to provide free wills and powers of attorney to first responders -- police officers, firefighters, paramedics and other men and women who risk their lives every day to make sure our communities are safe.* * *

The PBA's Wills for Heroes program is also described in a flyer for volunteers (PDF) posted online.

In two blog posts over the past two years, I tracked such personal and estate planning services offered free to certain first responders in Pennsylvania, beginning at a county bar association level and then advancing into statewide PBA sponsorship. See:
Firefighters, First Responders, and Free Wills (05/15/08) and PBA's Young Lawyers Sponsor "Wills for Heroes" (05/09/09). That organized effort now has strengthened and matured in Pennsylvania, which was the 21st state to endorse and implement the national Wills for Heroes program.

n September, 2009, that effort was cited nationally as a model and symbol of volunteerism. See: Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood honor the Wills for Heroes Foundation.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell's Press Release, entitled Governor Rendell Commends Volunteers on National Day of Service and Remembrance (09/11/09), as posted by Examiner.com, stated, "There is no better example of the spirit of volunteerism than the Wills for Heroes project that we are seeing in action today, and it is especially appropriate as we observe the anniversary of the terrible events of 9/11."

Law school students, such as those I teach at Widener University School of Law (Harrisburg Campus), and those at
WLS (Delaware Campus) joined the movement in public workshops held Saturday, April 17, 2010. The Harrisburg (Dauphin County) event is the subject of an online photo gallery posted by the PBA.

WLS-Delaware students held their second "Wills for Heroes" event on July 10, 2010, when "nearly 60 clients turn out to receive pro bono legal services." See: Delaware Campus Hosted Another Successful Wills for Heroes Event (07/27/10).

The event saw volunteer attorneys prepare wills, advance health care directives, and financial powers of attorneys free of cost for Delaware firefighters, paramedics, police officers, corrections officers, probation officers, and their spouses or partners. * * *

The law school places such an emphasis on public service that it just made sense to bring the two together. Everyone quickly became committed to the idea of Widener being the vessel that makes this opportunity available to Delaware’s emergency service workers.”

Widener Law’s Delaware campus hopes to coordinate a Wills for Heroes document-preparation event once a semester. Subsequent events will move around to the First State’s three counties. Widener Law, the official Delaware affiliate of the Wills for Heroes program, ran its first event on April 17th. * * *
The effort in Pennsylvania still appears rooted in practitioners and their staff. In its August 2, 2010 electronic bulletin to members, the Pennsylvania Bar Association requested assistance for further workshops scheduled around the state:
At least 10 to 20 lawyers, three or four notaries (who aren't required to be lawyers) and several witnesses (anyone over the age of 18) are needed for each event.

Lawyer volunteers do not need to practice trust and estate law. A mini-course will be given the morning of the event to familiarize volunteers with what they need to know. Also, several lawyers well-versed in estate planning will be available during the day to answer any questions that may arise. * * *

New volunteers are asked to complete the
online registration form
. * * *
That bulletin noted upcoming Wills for Heroes events in Pennsylvania:
Bucks County (Contact coordinators Lisa A. Shearman and Jennifer Murphy)
  • Aug. 7: Trevose Fire Company, Trevose
  • Aug. 28: Trevose Fire Company, Trevose
  • Sept. 11: Public Safety Training Center, Doylestown
Lackawanna County (Contact coordinator Jason Morrison)
  • Oct. 2: Scranton Police Department, Scranton
Montgomery County (Contact coordinator Shearman)
  • Sept. 25: Montgomery Township Fire Department, Montgomeryville
York County (Contact coordinator Mac Brillhart)
  • Sept. 18: York Township Emergency Service Personnel, York
According to the PBA's bulletin, "For more information about the Wills for Heroes program, send an e-mail to Dan McKenna or Lisa A. Shearman and visit the Wills for Heroes Foundation website and the PBA Young Lawyers Division website."