Anthony Hayes, a partner at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough, LLP, in Columbia, South Carolina, started the Wills for Heroes program shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Anthony emailed 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.
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.
In August 2007, the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (ABA YLD) tabbed the Wills for Heroes program its 2007-08 national public service program. In doing so, the ABA YLD is encouraging its affiliates and 144,000 members to work with the Wills for Heroes Foundation to bring this unique, much-needed program to their local first responders. For more information on the ABA YLD initiative, visit www.abanet.org/yld/wills.