Pro Bono Spotlight: Estate Planning Clinic
Greensfelder attorneys helped Washington University School of Law kick off a new clinic in 2022 providing estate planning services to low-income members of the St. Louis community. The inaugural clinic paired volunteers from Greensfelder’s Trusts & Estates practice group with law students to assist clients with the drafting of wills, health care directives, financial powers of attorney and beneficiary deeds.
Greensfelder attorneys Keith Grissom, Jody Forsee and Molly Grewe staffed the clinic alongside the student volunteers, providing services at no cost to the clients. It was held virtually to maximize accessibility and was offered to residents with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.
The law students handled information intakes to connect qualified applicants with the volunteer attorneys, as well as helping the attorneys prepare documents. Sarah Narkiewicz, associate dean of clinical education at the law school, directed the program. She noted that the clinic is important to the community because wills and financial and health care powers of attorney are essential services that are often financially out of reach for lower-income individuals. Grissom, Grewe and Forsee are each experienced estate planning attorneys who mentored the students and oversaw their work creating the relevant documents.
While the clinic served the important purpose of helping clients ensure they are protecting their loved ones’ futures, it also aims to help address the issue of vacant land across the city. When people die without a will, their land passes on without a clear title on the property, preventing it from being transferred or sold. However, with proper legal documents in place, this is easier to resolve. The work of the clinic’s volunteers takes a small step toward addressing the root of the land vacancy issue and helps clients keep their home in the family, providing more stability. Narkiewicz said she hopes to be able to offer the clinic again to continue this progress.
Greensfelder attorneys volunteer their time through partnerships such as this one in an effort to bolster the legal services available to the most vulnerable in our communities. Learn more about the firm’s community initiatives at https://www.greensfelder.com/about-leaders.html