Wills for Heroes
Volunteer with the Chicago Bar Association's Wills for Heroes Program
The Wills for Heroes Foundation provides essential estate planning documents free of charge to our nation's veterans and first responders. The Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section and Exelon have partnered with the national Wills for Heroes Foundation to offer this service in Chicago. At our events, volunteers attorneys, who need no experience, prepare basic Wills and powers of attorney for first responders and veterans and their spouses or partners.
Upcoming Program Dates
Chicago Police Headquarters (3510 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60653)
8:30 HotDocs software training
9:00 First client appointments
12:00 Last client appointments
We typically complete the execution of our last clients’ documents between 1:30 and 2:00. Many of our drafting attorneys leave once they’ve completed their last client’s documents, often around 12:30 or 1:00.
Volunteer Opportunities for Attorneys and Non-Attorneys/Law Students
Estate Planning Attorneys
Experienced estate planning attorneys are needed to review completed estate plans and walk clients through the execution of the documents.
Attorneys without estate planning experience are needed to perform client intake, draft wills and powers of attorney using HotDocs document automation software, and act as witnesses during the execution of the documents.
Notaries Public and Non-Attorneys/ Law Students
If you are a Notary Public you can participate by notarizing documents. Non-attorneys and law students can participate by pairing up with attorneys during the document preparation phase of the program or by serving as witnesses during the execution of the documents.
How to Register for an Event
To register for the event, please follow the link here to an online registration form. Once you’ve completed the form, you’ll receive a confirmation email with conflicts information during the week of the event. If you have any difficulty signing up, please contact co-chairs Joe Busnengo or John Festa.
About 2-3 weeks before each event, we send out a call for volunteers with information on registering for that event. To be added to the list, please visit the CBA committees page and join the YLS "Public Outreach-Wills for Heroes Subcommittee." If you are not a CBA member, please email co-chairs, Joe Busnengo or John Festa, to be added to the list. We do not use this list for any purpose other than soliciting volunteers for our events.
Frequently Asked Questions
What will I be doing at the event? Attorneys without extensive estate planning experience will be performing a variety of functions. Some will do intake with the clients and help them fill out their estate planning documents. Others will act as witnesses during the execution of the documents. Experienced estate planning attorneys will review completed estate plans and help with the execution of the documents. Law students and non-attorneys will be assisting attorneys with client intake and document preparation or serving as witnesses during the execution of the documents.
Do you provide training for the event? The CBA has prepared a basic wills and estates online training video for the Wills for Heroes program. (Approved for .50 CLE credit. Please note that you can only receive one Wills for Heroes CLE credit per calendar year. If you are a CBA member you can log into your account to view your MCLE credit tracker. If you are not a member of the CBA, a member of the CBA will email you your CLE information).
We also conduct a brief on-site training on the use of the HotDocs software we use to prepare the documents at the beginning of each event. No CLE credit is available for this training.
Do I need to have malpractice insurance? You do not need to have your own malpractice insurance to volunteer. The Chicago Bar Association provides the necessary malpractice insurance for all volunteers. The Wills for Heroes program also provides the necessary engagement agreements to all clients.
How do I perform a conflicts check? Earlier in the week of the Wills for Heroes event you will receive an email with a list of clients for conflict checks. If you have a potential conflict with a client that we bring to you, please let us know, and we’ll direct that client to another volunteer.
What should I wear? There is no dress code. So, feel free to dress comfortably.
What are my transportation options? The Chicago Police Headquarters is easily accessible via the CTA's Green and Red Lines and Metra's Rock Island District Line. There is also free on-site parking for volunteers.
Must I stay for the entire event? No. If you have other commitments, you are of course free to leave early. However, we ask that you please notify us upon registration of your intent to leave early and/or come a little later so that we can staff the event accordingly. Also, if we experience a high volume of cancelled client appointments, you will not be asked to stay for the remainder of the event if you prefer not to do so, or have other commitments.
I know someone who would like to participate in Wills for Heroes. How do they get an appointment? Please have potential clients email Marge to schedule an appointment.