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Spotlight on Pro Bono: Spring Break Pro Bono Estate Planning Trip to Salem, Missouri

by Cory Lee ’15

Over spring break five students: Tyler Levsen, Elyse Gibson, Daniel Schuenemeyer, Steve Patterson and Cory Lee, traveled to Salem, MO to assist the less fortunate in their estate planning. Under the supervision of Michael Spillane, ’11, from the Legal Services of Southern Missouri office in Rolla, each of the students had the opportunity to meet with clients and develop a plan for their estates.

The students initially met with the clients on Monday and went over what the clients own, what is held as a non-probate transfer, what needs to be accounted for in their wills, and also who needs to be accounted for in the will to decrease the likelihood of a will challenge.

On Tuesday, Mr. Spillane provided a will template and each of the students made necessary adjustments to it to accommodate each of their respective client’s wishes. None of the wills were as simple and straight-forward as may have been expected. There were children that needed to be disinherited, property that needed to be properly accounted for in the event the non-relative taker predeceased, assurance that there was no undue influence, and other unexpected changes that required further consulting with the clients.

For the final day, Wednesday, the students met with the clients to review the wording of the wills and confirm that all of the provisions were in agreement with the client’s wishes. Once everything was in accord as the clients wanted, the wills were executed, witnessed and notarized. Some of the clients were also assisted in executing a durable power of attorney for health care.

This trip provided a great opportunity for students to help those that are less fortunate as well as to gain real world experience by applying principles learned in the classroom.


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