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November 01, 2021

Helping to make headway with estate planning

It’s one of those tasks that many people put off for a variety of reasons: preparing end-of-life documents. To help with the process, lawyers across the country assisted individuals with wills, powers of attorney and more at estate planning events to mark this year’s Pro Bono Week.

John T. Stamps III, founder of the Black Belt Law Group in Bessemer, Alabama, was among a host of solo practitioners who offered free services. Stamps’ firm held about six free legal clinics throughout central Alabama and provided wills for adults age 70 and older. The wills were drafted and delivered by a notary who executed the documents right on the spot in the client’s home.

“We have offered the clinics at churches and community events to build goodwill” in the community, Stamps said. He has answered questions about wills, power of attorney and general probate issues for years at the clinics, which serve mostly lower-income residents throughout the Black Belt region’s 18 counties. COVID testing and vaccines were also offered.

In northern Nevada, Edith Medina, a pro bono coordinator for Nevada Legal Services, helped organize five law fairs for Pro Bono Week. The organization has participated in the event for seven years. A two-hour “Ask a Lawyer” fair in Carson City, which assisted people who met low-income criteria, drew clients who had the opportunity to speak with an attorney via Zoom to get answers to their questions. “It’s very rewarding,” Medina said, adding that Nevada Legal Services holds such fairs each month.

Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland also holds law clinics throughout the year, said staff attorney Jade McDuffie McClary. In October, the center hosted an advance planning clinic at the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center, a new partner in the pro bono center’s community outreach efforts. Five attorneys were on hand to assist pre-registered clients, who sought help with wills, advance medical directives and financial power of attorney. A notary was on-site to execute the documents and staffers helped to file wills with Baltimore’s register of wills.

McClary said clients were very appreciative and excited to have their paperwork completed and in order. “We want to make sure everything is taken care of,” she said.