Chicago Bar Association Teaming with Chicago Law Firms to Offer Free Estate Planning Services for Healthcare Workers
In recognition of the sacrifices being made by essential healthcare workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19, the Chicago Bar Association is partnering with several top Chicago law firms to offer free, virtual estate planning services for doctors, nurses and others who are treating coronavirus patients in hospitals and healthcare facilities in the Chicagoland area.
The new Wills for Healthcare Heroes Program is a spin-off of Wills for Heroes, a national program conducted locally by the CBA’s Young Lawyer Section, with volunteer attorneys running monthly in-person clinics offering free estate planning services for military veterans and first responders. The new program will be an entirely virtual experience, enabling healthcare workers to receive free legal assistance in preparing simple wills and powers of attorney for themselves, their spouses or partners.
"The Wills for Heroes Program has always been a way for attorneys to give back to those heroes who put their lives on the line to protect all of us like our veterans and police officers,” said Joe Busnengo, who chairs the CBA’s Young Lawyers Section Wills for Heroes Program. “We are very excited to be expanding this program to help our healthcare heroes, who are shouldering an enormously heavy burden during this pandemic.”
The Program will consist of virtual clinics offered in partnership between the CBA and the law firms or corporate law departments. Chicago law firms that are participating in the program include Jenner & Block, Kirkland & Ellis, Mayer Brown, Schiff Hardin, and Winston & Strawn. The document automation software company HotDocs is donating the software and licenses that will make it possible to execute the program virtually.
The law firm of Jenner & Block has a longstanding partnership with the CBA, including in the Wills for Heroes program, and the firm is proud to be pitching in to help with legal assistance for healthcare workers, according to Andrew Vail, a litigation partner at the firm who chairs its pro bono program.
“This crisis demonstrates how healthcare providers put the rest of the community first,” said Vail. “This is one small way that our law firm, together with the CBA and the legal community, can come together to help provide peace of mind for these heroes, along with the other heroes on the front lines as well as their families.”
To be eligible for assistance, the individual must be a licensed healthcare provider in the State of Illinois who is working as a doctor (M.D. or D.O.) nurse (RNs, LPNs, PAs, CNAs, or technicians), respiratory therapist, pharmacist, resident, intern, or medical student. After an initial intake process is conducted by telephone, the healthcare worker will be connected with a volunteer attorney for an appointment, in which the attorney will walk the person through the execution of the estate planning documents. The attorney will then assist the signing and notarizing of the documents utilizing audio-visual technology such as Zoom, Skype or Facetime.
The law firm of Winston & Strawn has provided volunteer attorneys and been a long-time supporter of the Wills for Heroes Program, according to Maria Kutnick, Pro Bono Counsel at the firm.
“If we can provide these heroes with one less worry during a time of such uncertainty, we are eager to be of assistance,” said Kutnick. “Winston & Strawn is grateful to partner with the CBA and Wills for Heroes on this important initiative at a time in which our healthcare workers are putting their lives on the line in order to save the lives of others.”
Healthcare workers who are interested in taking advantage of the service can call the Chicago Bar Association at 312-554-2130 or connect by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Additional information is available at www.chicagobar.org/chicagobar/wills
The Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section has been involved with the Wills for Heroes program for first responders and military veterans for more than 10 years and its volunteers have drafted more than 5,000 free simple estate plans for Chicago’s Heroes during that time.