MU Law continues pro bono estate planning program

The program has the goal of helping people in the Columbia community in conjunction with training university law students.

The MU School of Law has announced that it will be continuing the Mizzou Law Pro Bono Estate Planning Program in 2019. The program, which is a partnership with the MU Family Impact Center, allows Boone County residents to receive typically costly estate planning services at no cost, while giving MU law students valuable experience.

On the evenings of Feb. 4, 5 and 6, 10 current MU law students will be available to help local residents seeking to write or amend their wills. There is a specific emphasis on residents with children who are minors to apply for the program.

The students participating in the program will be under the supervision of MU associate adjunct professor Cynthia Barchet. Barchet is a graduate of MU and the School of Law and practices locally at the Barchet Law Firm, where she focuses primarily on estates, trusts, elder law and business law.

The free program has existed since 2017 and in 2018 it allowed 20 Boone County residents to have a meaningful estate planning consultation at no cost. Organizers have set the goal of assisting another 20 clients this year.

There are many positive impacts of this program, Jennifer Riedy Clark, the director of Public Interest Programs for the MU School of Law, said. Clark said it not only assists the community, but also the students participating in it.

“[The program] allows eligible area residents to receive estate planning information and services through individual consultations and document preparation, while allowing Mizzou law students to gain and hone their legal skills, exposing them to the importance of pro-bono work,” Clark said.

Current MU students see clear benefits of the program both for local residents and for the potential lawyers studying at MU.

“I think it’s a great program and will not only give exposure to real legal work for the students, but also aid people in need of legal help,” junior Peter Hempstead said.

Students who grew up in Columbia see a definite need for a program like this as well.

“There can never be enough of free stuff, especially in Columbia, so there is a need for this free legal counsel,” freshman and lifelong Columbia resident Eyob Teklesenbet said.

Edited by Emily Wolf | ewolf@themaneater.com

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