Wills for Heroes provides free estate planning documents for first responders.

Wills for Heroes, a pro bono program of the North Carolina Bar Foundation (NCBF), has been in existence in North Carolina for more than a decade.

It will probably be in existence for decades to come.

That’s because the service Wills for Heroes provides to first responders and their families – free estate planning documents – will remain a valuable, worthwhile endeavor for as long as law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and their peers protect and serve the citizens of this state.

This year alone, Wills for Heroes clinics have been hosted by Wake Forest University School of Law in Winston-Salem and North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham. Fall clinics were held at the University of North Carolina School of Law in Chapel Hill and Elon University School of Law in Greensboro.

Two more clinics are scheduled next month on March 9 at Duke University School of Law in Durham and on March 16 at Campbell Law School in Raleigh. The clinics are typically held on Saturdays and staffed by North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) members (attorneys, law students and paralegals), notaries public and other dedicated individuals, all of whom benefit immensely from helping protect those who protect us all.

“The North Carolina Bar Foundation is honored to provide this meaningful pro bono service to North Carolina’s first responders and their families,” said Jacqueline Grant of Asheville, NCBA/NCBF president. “Since its inception in 2007, Wills for Heroes has been a source of pride and goodwill for our members, one that has generated thousands of important documents for individuals who might have otherwise been without them when they needed them most.”

That, in essence, is how Wills for Heroes came into being. Following the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of hundreds of first responders, it was learned that many of these individuals did not have wills, thereby adding to the tragedy.

Attorneys Anthony Hayes of South Carolina and Jeff Jacobson of Arizona sprang into action and established the Wills for Heroes Foundation. Bar organizations across the country were invited to adopt the program, and on Oct. 6, 2007, the NCBA Young Lawyers Division hosted its first Wills for Heroes clinic in Charlotte.

Wills for Heroes is now conducted through the North Carolina Bar Foundation under the direction of NCBF Pro Bono Attorney Nihad Mansour. The NCBA YLD is still an essential contributor to the program and the program is still supported by the NCBF Endowment, as has been the case throughout its existence.

Two more constants regarding Wills for Heroes are worth remembering. First, every clinic, regardless of where it is held, is open to any first responder living in North Carolina. First responders from virtually all of this state’s 100 counties have received free estate planning documents through Wills for Heroes.

Second, volunteer attorneys from across the state are invited to participate in this program, and thousands have, regardless of where the clinic is held. Lawyers of all ages have traveled hundreds of miles to assist with clinics, and have done so regardless of their practice areas. Training is provided prior to each clinic, and in instances where law students are participating, they always do so with the assistance and supervision of licensed N.C. attorneys.

If you have questions regarding the Wills for Heroes program, please contact Nihad Mansour, NCBF Pro Bono Staff Attorney, at 919-677-9875 or via email at [email protected].

If you or someone you know is a first responder who wishes to obtain free estate planning documents at either of the two upcoming Wills for Heroes clinics, details follow including a registration link for each clinic:

Saturday, March 9, 2019, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Duke Law School, Durham
Click here to register.

Saturday, March 16, 2019, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Campbell Law School, Raleigh
Click here to register.

Finally, if you are a first responder desiring free estate planning documents but are unable to attend either of the upcoming clinics, rest assured that additional clinics will be held across the state in the future.

For decades to come.