Wills for Heroes event aids veterans & first responders

Dozens of Elon Law students volunteered alongside practicing attorneys to help former service members and current first responders prepare or update estate plans through an annual program offered by the North Carolina Bar Foundation.

No one lives forever.

In your final days, as any lawyer will tell you, it’s easier to rest knowing your loved ones understand how your wealth will be distributed. You also don’t want arguments between relatives over your health care and end-of-life financial decisions.

Elon Law’s Victoria Stepien L’24 (left) and Robert Retic L’24 (right) worked under the supervision of Marsha Poston of Poston Law on November 12, 2022, at Elon Law’s Wills for Heroes program with the North Carolina Bar Foundation. (Photo by Elliott Millner L’23)

Even worse is when tragedy suddenly strikes and there was never a conversation with family about last wishes.

It’s with this in mind that dozens of Elon Law students volunteered for a program hosted by the North Carolina Bar Foundation, organized locally by the law school’s Military Law Society with support from the Pro Bono Board, to prepare or update simple wills and other estate plans for military veterans and first responders in the Greensboro community.

The Wills for Heroes program on November 12, 2022, was free or charge to veterans and their families. It was the first time since the start of the pandemic that Elon Law was able to host the program, which took place one day after Veterans Day.

Clients met with students who took notes and updated documents under the supervision of licensed attorneys who spent the morning at Elon Law in downtown Greensboro.

For some clients who brought with them to Elon Law their existing wills, students worked to update beneficiaries, name changes, or a relationship status – all details that frequently get overlooked, notably as service members move between duty stations.

“The reason we do this is to refine, and sometimes fix, the wills that veterans have when they’re discharged,” said Liz Kwon L’23, the outgoing president of the Military Law Society and recently elected president of Elon Law’s Student Bar Association. “A lot of times, when veterans leave the service, there is a generic template that is used for drafting wills that doesn’t include much detail.

“This event honed in on some of those details to make sure veterans and first responders have wills that are accurate and up-to-date.”

Eric Belcher served in the U.S. Army for six years and was among those who visited the clinic for guidance on his estate plans. “I never had anything like this before. It helps me to not have to worry about stuff,” Belcher said. “I saw my dad go through it with my grandparents, so this brings comfort. It’s important for securing my children’s future.”

Arrey Faucette (left) with his wife, Lilian, and Bianca Simmons of the North Carolina Bar Foundation. (Photo by Elliott Millner L’23)

Arrey Faucette and his wife, Lilian, also attended the clinic for assistance in preparing estate documents. Faucette served in the U.S. Army from 1968-1971 during the Vietnam War. “We’ve been putting this off for a long time and decided to do it because it was pro bono,” Faucette said. “It’s a great program.”

Kwon, whose husband is an officer in the U.S. Army, said she hopes Saturday’s program will be a foundation for future growth to serve an even larger number of veterans and first responders in the Greensboro community.

“I’m honored,” she said, “to be a part of an organization that empowers me to serve those who first served us.”