MU School of Law creates pro bono estate planning program

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COLUMBIA – MU’s School of Law is partnering with the Family Impact Center to offer free estate planning services to residents of Boone County.

The partnership is part of a new program at the law school, called the Mizzou Law Pro Bono Estate Planning Program, which intends to provide ten students an opportunity to gain legal skills and introduce them to the importance of pro bono work.

The students were chosen this fall by the program’s supervising attorney, Adjunct Associate Professor Cynthia Barchet. Barchet has a law firm in Columbia which also provides estate planning services.

The law school’s Director of Public Interest Programs, Jennifer Riedy Clark, said the students will be providing a variety of services to community members.

“The services that they are going to be providing are going to be drafting durable powers of attorney for health care, and health care directives,” Clark said. “They’re going to be drafting general durable powers of attorney for finances, as well as simple wills.”

Recipients of these services will be chosen based on an application process open to anyone.

Clark encourages anyone who is interested to apply as soon as possible.

The first meetings between students and clients are scheduled for the middle of October.

The program is currently unsure how many clients will be served because it is new to the school. However, there have been similar programs in the past.

Clark said another group of students was chosen for a similar program in the spring.

“We’ve actually done a similar program down in Salem and in Rolla the past couple of years, where we’ve taken students and gone down with legal services of southern Missouri over spring break, and done these same services,” she said.

Those involved with the program hope this session goes well, so that the program can continue to future semester.

“I really hope that we can do some good, really provide a lot of services for the members of our local community and I know the students are really excited to be able to give back to the community and to learn more about this area of the law,” said Clark.