Wills for Heroes

Wills for Heroes

Preparing a will is an uncomfortable reminder of our mortality and surrendering to the inevitable. According to a November 12, 2007, Forbes magazine article, a Harris Interactive survey done for lawyers.com that found that 55% of the general population had no will and those numbers are even lower for the First Responders. Despite the inherently dangerous nature of their jobs, an overwhelmingly large number of First Responders – approximately 80-90% do not have even simple wills. (This figure is based only on experiential data and feedback from state and national First Responder organizations.)

First Responders selflessly devote their lives to serving their communities and are prepared to pay the ultimate price in the line of duty. The relatively low number of First Responders with wills also speaks to the selflessness of First Responders; the very nature of the profession is to think of others first, to put the good of the community before themselves. Avoiding the thought of ‘what happens if I die’ is, for many First Responders, an occupational necessity.

Shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Anthony Hayes, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina contacted the Columbia Fire Department asking what lawyers could do to help that department. During an impromptu focus group, it became clear that there was a glaring need for estate planning services.  The Wills for Heroes program was born.

Since then, Wills for Heroes programs in ten states have provided more than 7,000 free estate planning documents for First Responders. Because of the tremendous success of these programs, attorneys and bar associations across the United States started requesting assistance with implementing Wills for Heroes programs in their communities. In response, Jeff Jacobson and Anthony Hayes created the Wills for Heroes Foundation to oversee the nationwide expansion of these programs and connect volunteer attorneys with local First Responders.



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