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Attorneys to Help First Responders Write Their Wills

by on March 26, 2015 6:00 AM

Most people probably don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their own mortality.

Dan McKenrick, an attorney with Penn State’s student legal services office, says it’s understandable to avoid thinking about death. It’s tragic, it’s unpleasant, and it makes most people uncomfortable.

“But if you want to be able to know that you’re family is going to be protected if something happens to you, having something in writing is the best way to do it,” McKenrick says.

And there are some people who are more likely to need something in writing: firefighters, police officers and other first responders who deal with dangerous situations daily. That’s why McKenrick and a group of local attorneys and law students are holding a “Wills for Heroes” event on Saturday at Penn State’s legal clinic at Innovation Park.

McKenrick, along with other members of Centre County and Pennsylvania Bar Associations, will spend Saturday helping first responders and military veterans draft their wills and other important legal documents as a way to thank them for their dedication and sacrifice.

“We really enjoy being to help them and ease any burdens they might have from their professions,” McKenrick says. “These are very difficult positions to begin with, so we want to do anything we can to help them because they help us every day.”

McKenrick says the event will focus on four documents: a will, a living will, healthcare power of attorney and financial power of attorney.

A will lays out what happens to your property and other assets after death. A living will expresses your wishes in case of emergency, end-of-life medical decisions. Power of attorney documents give another person power to make health care and financial decisions if you’re incapacitated and unable to do so.

To draft of all these documents takes about an hour for one person, and about two hours for a couple. McKenrick says taking the time to plan out what happens after death can be a tough conversation to have, but it’s one that can ensure a safe future for your loved ones.

McKenrick says bar associations hold Wills for Heroes events throughout the year, spreading them throughout the state to help as many people as possible. For more information on future Wills for Heroes events, contact the Centre County Bar Association or the Pennsylvania Bar Association.


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Michael Martin Garrett is a reporter and editor for who covers local government, the courts, the arts and writes the Keeping the Faith column. He's a Penn State alumnus, a published poet and the bassist in a local indie rock band.
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