Volunteer Attorneys Draft Free Estate Planning Documents for Frederick County Firefighters
Mariela D’Alessio, an attorney with Smith, Gildea & Schmidt, LLC (SGS), a regional law firm based in Towson, will be one of several volunteer attorneys drafting free wills and other legal documents for first responders on Saturday, February 20, through the Wills for Heroes program. This is the second time D’Alessio has participated in the program.
The Wills for Heroes event, which will be held at the Baltimore County Fire Department Union Hall in Cockeysville, will benefit members of the Frederick County Fire Department. Volunteer attorneys and notaries will receive two hours of training prior to meeting pre-registered clients for one-hour appointments from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.
The Wills for Heroes Foundation is a national non-profit organization that provides free wills, advance directives and powers of attorney to first responders, including police officers, firefighters, paramedics, corrections and probation officers. The foundation was started in response to the tragic events of 9/11, and is administered nationwide by local affiliate programs.
“Many of our first responders do not have estate planning documents in place,” said D’Alessio, who is the Chair of the Estates and Trusts Department at SGS. “But these heroes are putting themselves in dangerous situations on a daily basis. It’s an honor for me to give back to those who risk their lives keeping us safe.”
D’Alessio adds that some people think they don’t need estate planning documents because they are not wealthy, but this could not be further from the truth. “It is essential for all people — especially first responders — to have a power of attorney. In the event that they are seriously injured, they need someone already in place to make their medical and financial decisions for them,” she said.
During the Wills for Heroes events, the attorneys meet with first responders and their spouses and use HotDocs software donated by LexisNexis to draft the documents, which are then signed, witnessed and notarized at the event. More information on the Wills for Heroes Foundation is available at: www.willsforheroes.org.