First Responders Honored with Pro Bono Estate Planning Provided by BYU Alumni, Faculty and Students

September 18, 2020

BYU Law alumni, faculty, and current students teamed up to assist nearly 140 local first responders to complete their basic estate planning documents, free of charge, as the Law School sponsored its second Wills for Heroes project–which concluded with the execution of hundreds of wills and other vital estate instruments beginning on September 11.

The pro bono legal work was done by more than 80 attorneys, including volunteers from the BYU Law Alumni Chapter and others, many of whom assisted several different first responders.

“First responders prepare, serve, and sacrifice,” said BYU Law Dean Gordon Smith. “They put themselves in harm’s way for their neighbors and fellow community members. We are honored to assist those who often stand with us as we confront some of life’s greatest tragedies.”

Faced with the challenges posed by COVID-19, the continuing partnership between the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Utah State Bar Association almost doubled participation this year, thanks in large measure to the involvement of HotDocs and Zions Bank.

“We were able to go completely remote, thanks to the HotDocs software,” said Mike Middleton, Dean of External Relations. “And Zions Bank provided free notary services at 26 different locations throughout the state, so participants could execute their documents at a branch close to their home or work.”

While Wills for Heroes programs have been held across the country in about 30 states, this is among the first entirely remote programs in Wills for Heroes’ history. “This is one of the largest groups in Utah that we’ve ever assisted, and definitely the most geographically widespread” said Grant Miller, President-elect of the Utah State Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. “We feel like we’ve used technology to circumnavigate the pandemic’s effects and to set a precedent that we believe will be duplicated here and across the country.”

BYU Law champions the idea that law is a leadership degree. The Law School is grateful to its alums, and other Utah-licensed attorneys, for generously giving their time and expertise to activities like this that build and enhance the community.