When a firefighter rushes into a burning building, often times he has not taken the time to make out a will for his wife and children if he doesn't make it out alive.
A program undertaken by the Young Lawyers Division of the Mississippi Bar Association provides free legal advice and preparation of wills for first responders and emergency officials, according to Rob Jolly, a Columbus native and Olive Branch resident, who practices law in Oxford.
"Wills For Heroes started in the wake of the 911 attacks," Jolly said. "Many of those folks who went into the burning building did not have wills in place. As a result, those families' lives were fleet in disarray."
Jolly said these first responders deserve free legal help.
"These heroes unselfishly put their lives at risk every day," Jolly said. "We've done a couple of these (will preparations) in DeSoto County, and this one is to benefit the Hernando police department. They come in and fill out the documents, and when they walk out of here, they will have a will." Other legal serves including providing consultation on healthcare statements and power of attorney in living will and financial situations.
The Young Lawyers group, which features attorneys ages 37 and under, are working in concert with older, more well-established attorneys like Bill Brown, Mary Lee Brown and George Ready, among others in the area.
"I think members of the bar have a responsibility to the community that they serve," Ready said. "More importantly, it's an opportunity to give back to the people who put their lives on the line for our community."
"I think it's the least we can do for people who put their lives on the line," Brown said. "I think it's important. In my practice, I see people without wills, and complications can come later."
Hernando Police Capt. Russell Perry said about 20 officers took part in Thursday's seminar.
Jacob Hisaw is an animal control officer for the city who routinely encounters vicious animals in his job.
"I think it's great," Hisaw said. "They are volunteering their time. That's the amazing thing."
Ty Scott, another local attorney, is a military veteran himself who employed with the Walker, Brown and Brown firm in Hernando.
"It's an opportunity for us to help those who wear the uniform and serve every day," Scott said.
Attorney Louis Walker of Southaven, and a Helena, Ark. native, said he wants to help the area's first responders.
"This is one of my practice areas," Walker said. "When you have an opportunity to help people, I think you should."
Walker is a former firefighter himself.
"A lot of people don't realize the dangers," Walker said. "None of us like to think about our mortality."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397 ext. 252.