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  • Writer's pictureBayard Marin

Widener Law brings Wills for Heroes to Delaware

April 8, 2010 (c/o The News Journal)

New partnership with national organization allows first responders to get estate planning documents prepared at not cost

Contact: Mary Allen, public relations officer Office: 302-477-2175, Cell: 302-562-9239

Widener Law today announced it has become the Delaware affiliate for the Wills For Heroes Foundation, a move that brings to Delaware the national program that provides free basic estate planning for emergency-services workers.

Founded by an attorney after the Sept. 11, 2001 tragedies, Wills For Heroes is a nonprofit program that provides its state affiliates with the tools to present events where first responders can obtain things like wills and advance health care directives at no cost. Widener Law will host such an event Saturday, April 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Barristers’ Club on the school’s Delaware campus at 4601 Concord Pike, Wilmington.

Through this partnership, the Wills For Heroes Foundation provides national exposure, software, guidance and support, while Widener Law will provide the event planning, coordination of services, staff and publicity. The services will be provided by volunteer attorneys, who are licensed to practice in Delaware, with help from law students who have completed courses in wills and trusts. Other law students will be serving as witnesses for document execution.

The program is open to first responders including firefighters, police officers, paramedics, correction and probation officers. Services available will include basic wills, advanced heath care directives, durable power of attorney, or updates to any of those existing documents. Clients take all paperwork with them when they leave and the documents are immediately effective. The law school and the volunteers keep no copies and attorneys are prohibited from soliciting any other fee-based legal work.

Law student Damiano P. Del Pino worked to bring the program to Widener, which has the distinction of being the first law school to serve as a Wills for Heroes’ affiliate organization. A New Jersey native, Del Pino had volunteered at Wills For Heroes events in the Garden State. He proposed the opportunity to the law school administration and met an enthusiastic response.

“When I saw Delaware had no chapter for Wills for Heroes I decided that had to change,” Del Pino said. “Widener is a natural fit to be an affiliate organization. The law school places such an emphasis on public service that it just made sense to bring the two together. Everyone quickly became committed to the idea of Widener being the vessel that makes this opportunity available to Delaware’s emergency service workers.”

Law Dean Linda L. Ammons added, “Part of our mission at Widener Law is to give back to the communities we call home. First responders put their lives on the line to keep Delawareans safe. It is a privilege to coordinate our people and our resources to help them make these personal arrangements, which are vital to piece of mind and family security. What better way to say thank you?”

The law school hopes to do a document-preparation event once a semester and will move the events around to the three counties. Since the law campus is based in Wilmington the first will be held on the New Castle County campus, but subsequent events will likely be held in community centers or firehouses in Kent and Sussex counties.

Widener is currently seeking volunteer attorneys to help staff the April 17 event. Training will be provided that morning and continuing legal education credits will be available to those who help. To volunteer, contact Del Pino at 302.477.2016 or email

Emergency service workers who want to take advantage of the service must schedule an appointment to attend the event. To do so, call 302.477.2016 or send an email to Del Pino at Appointments will last about an hour. The service is recommended only for first responders whose estates are valued at $750,000 or less. Those with spouses or children who have special care needs should make their situations clear when seeking appointments, so a law school representative may determine whether those needs will require legal work beyond what is available through the program.

Widener Law is grateful to Wilmington attorneys Valerie M. DeFontes, Esq. of the Wilmington law offices of Bayard Marin and Scott D. Goodwin, Esq. of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP for their work on the planning committee.

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